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The Canadian Film Industry is Changing in a Big Way with Cineplex Buying AMC

June 25, 2012

By John C.

Whether we like it or not, there are some big changes on the horizon for the Canadian film scene.  And not just behind the scenes changes that will only be noticed by those of us working in the industry, but ones that will inevitably affect mainstream audiences as well.

AMC Entertainment was recently purchased by China’s Wanda Group in a multi-million dollar deal that is set to revitalize the movie theatre chain, but part of the deal was that the Canadian locations would be sold to other buyers.  Cineplex has invested in four of the locations, including the huge multiplex at Yonge & Dundas in Toronto,  bringing their total tally of theatres across Canada up to 134.  Empire Theatres has bought two of the other locations, including the one in Whitby, and two more are still on the market.

The AMC located at the heart of Yonge & Dundas only opened four years ago, and it seems like a shame for it to be changing hands and getting a potentially huge make over in the near future.  From the pictures of classic films that line the walls around the auditoriums, to the thick red carpets and circular black floor adorned with some of the greatest movie quotes of all time, there is something classy about AMC Yonge & Dundas.  I’ve seen so many movies there over the last few years, that I’m already starting to feel nostalgic about the change.  I have nothing wrong with Cineplex and have had a lot of good experiences with them, but the faux night club atmosphere of a downtown location like the Scotiabank Theatre does have a decidedly different vibe than the classy gold and red of AMC.

For the past few years, AMC has consistently offered the most convenient showtimes and best ticket prices for early shows.  Big blockbusters often play at least once every hour on opening weekend, and tickets to all screenings before noon are only six dollars.  They offer a deal that really can’t be beat, and once Cineplex is only really competing with themselves, the franchise might not feel the same need to competitively price their tickets.  The extra ten percent that Scene members save on Tuesdays when tickets are already half price certainly is a step in the right direction, but I sincerely hope that Cineplex will start to offer similar deals for early matinée shows on weekends.

The other big change set to shake the Canadian film industry has to do with distributors, with eOne in talks to buy Alliance.  Trickling down from Alliance’s purchase of Maple Pictures last summer and the absorption of Lionsgate into Summit that recently happened across the border, what we will get is a monopoly on the Canadian distribution game that is practically unheard of in terms of size.  There have been rumblings of eOne buying Alliance for a little while now with a bit of a metaphorical chess game being played between the distributors, and I fully support the corporate decision when it eventually does come into play.

At the end of the day, we have little control over these changes happening with movie theatres and distributors.  All we can do is hope that everything falls into place in a way that benefits both the corporate and entertainment sides of the Canadian film industry, as well as mainstream audiences.

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