Monday, July 1, 2013

Grant Park Movie Theatres Sold

Empire Theatres at the back of Grant Park
Unloved and unwanted. Or can't have. Grant Park Shopping Mall's Empire Theatres has changed hands again. Built in 1969 as a single Cinerama 720 seat theatre, it was the perfect theatre to see epic movies like 2001 and Star Wars. In 1989, it was split and expanded to four theatres and again in 1998, four more theatres were added for a total of eight and 1600 seats.

As more and more mall theatres close or become stand alone buildings, the Empire continued to defy the odds.

Now comes the news that the Sobey's family through their Empire group have sold their theatres to two other companies: Cineplex Odeon and Landmark.

For many years, the Grant Park Cinema was operated by Cineplex Odeon but the company was forced to sell it in 2005 when Famous Players merged with its main competitor. The competition bureau decided that it was just too much concentration of one company in Winnipeg.

The Sobey's family came to rescue and Empire Theatres in Winnipeg was founded.

Landmark Cinemas from Alberta now becomes owner of the halls. Most people know of Landmark through their ownership of the 1,200 seat Towne Cinema 8 since 1981. This was Canada's first stand alone multiplex.

Landmark also operates the Globe Theatres in Portage Place.

What does this mean for Winnipeg? In the grand scheme of things...probably little. Grant Park will be renamed and jobs will be retained.

But what of the possible movie theatres in St. James and Seasons of Tuxedo? As mentioned earlier in this blog, there are fewer and fewer possible competitors. At one time AMC Theaters was a possible contender but they retreated from the Canadian market as well.

It is very uncertain if the much talked about brand new theatres will ever be built given the dominance of one of the players. Landmark still seems to be a company that has generally stayed away from competing with the really big players. To be sure the purchase of Empire makes then bigger but will we see even greater investment in a super theatre complex in Seasons of Tuxedo?

The remains to be seen.

1 comment:

reedsolomon.matr1x at said...

That's a shame ... I love Empire Theatres. Grant Park had good popcorn. Hopefully they don't switch to the cheap stuff.