Cineplex Inc. (formerly known as Cineplex Galaxy Income Fund and Galaxy Entertainment Inc.) is a Canadian entertainment company headquartered in Toronto, Ontario.
|Founder||Ellis Jacob and Stephen Brown|
Number of locations
Number of employees
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Through its operating subsidiary Cineplex Entertainment LP, Cineplex operates 165 theatres across Canada. The company operates theatres under numerous brands, including Cineplex Cinemas, Cineplex Odeon, SilverCity, Galaxy Cinemas, Cinema City, Famous Players, Scotiabank Theatres and Cineplex VIP Cinemas. Cineplex also owns and operates multiple brands for entertainment (such as UltraAVX, Xscape Entertainment Centre, Player One Amusement Group) and restaurants (such as OutTakes and Poptopia). It is also a joint partner in the Scene loyalty program with Scotiabank.
On December 16, 2019, Cineplex agreed to be acquired by Cineworld Group for $2.8 billion, pending regulatory and shareholder approval.
Cineplex stakes a partial claim to the history of the Famous Players Film Company (later Paramount Pictures), founded in 1912, as its earliest predecessor, though that company did not have any operations in Canada until 1920, when it bought Nathan Nathanson's Paramount Theatre chain, which Nathanson had established four years earlier. Nathanson, along with being the 5th richest person in the world, became the first president of the resulting entity, Famous Player Canadian Corporation. In 1923, Famous Players bought out rival Allen Theatres, acquiring many buildings in the process .
1999–2005: Early years
Galaxy Entertainment Inc. was established in 1999 by Ellis Jacob, a former Chief Operating Officer of Loews Cineplex Entertainment, and Stephen Brown, a former Cineplex Chief Financial Officer. With investments from Onex Corporation and Famous Players, the new company focused on smaller markets that were usually served by smaller theatres and old equipment, opening large, major chain-style locations under the Galaxy Cinemas banner.
In 2001, Loews Cineplex Entertainment (a 1998 merger of Cineplex Odeon and Sony's Loews Theatres in 1998) underwent bankruptcy due to the economic recession of the early 2000s. In 2002, Onex Corporation, along with Oaktree Capital Management, acquired Loews Cineplex Entertainment. In 2004, Onex retained Lowes Cineplex's Canadian operations and merged them with Galaxy Cinemas, forming Cineplex Galaxy Income Fund. Jacob became the chief executive of Cineplex Galaxy Cinemas and Brown became the CFO. Most of the theatres acquired by Cineplex were once owned by Cineplex Odeon Corporation.
On June 13, 2005, Cineplex Galaxy announced its acquisition of Famous Players from Viacom for $500 million (about US$397 million). This deal was completed on July 22, 2005. To satisfy antitrust concerns, on August 22, 2005 the group announced the sale of 27 locations in Ontario and western Canada to Empire Theatres.
Eight days after Cineplex Galaxy announced its purchase of Famous Players Theatres, Loews Cineplex Theatres and AMC Theatres announced a merger. While AMC Theatres also operated in Canada and was ranked third behind Cineplex Galaxy Income Fund and the enlarged Empire Theatres, Cineplex Odeon and AMC Theatres remained competitors. In 2012, AMC sold 4 of its theatres to Cineplex Entertainment, in an effort to divest their Canadian operations and focus on their U.S. assets.
Cineplex Entertainment announced on March 31, 2006 that it had sold seven more theatres in Quebec to Chelsea-based Fortune Cinemas Inc. On June 29, 2007, Cineplex Entertainment announced its purchase of three Cinema City theatres in western Canada. Two theatres in Winnipeg and one in Edmonton were acquired.
With the bankruptcy of Fortune Cinemas, Cineplex Entertainment acquired (or in this case, re-acquired) some of Fortune Cinemas theatres. The Starcité Gatineau (Starcité Hull) and the Cavendish theaters were reopened as Cineplex Entertainment theatres.
In July 2012, Cineplex Entertainment purchased four of AMC's Canadian theaters, including the Yonge Dundas 24 at 10 Dundas East, adjacent to the Toronto Eaton Centre, and the Forum in Montreal. The purchase of the Yonge Dundas 24, presently Canada's largest multiplex cinema, brought Cineplex Entertainment full circle, as the original Cineplex at Eaton Centre was the namesake for the present company. The company also earlier acquired the Tinseltown Movies 12 theatre from another American chain, Cinemark, in the Gastown neighbourhood of Vancouver.
In December 2012, Cineplex Entertainment opened its first VIP cinema outside Ontario, and the first Cineplex built from the start as a VIP cinema was in Edmonton, Alberta, in the SW neighborhood of Windermere in the Windermere (area). It was also the first Cineplex to be 18+ VIP. Cineplex reopened a theater in Coquitlam, B.C that had been renovated to host 19+ VIP, shortly after.
Over the subsequent years, Cineplex expanded into advertising, events programming and a new concept, The Rec Room, amusement venues with live entertainment that serve food and drink.
2013-2018: Expansion, VIP Cinemas
On June 27, 2013, Empire Company announced that it would sell or close its Empire Theatres chain to focus on its retail and real estate operations (including Sobeys, which earlier in the month had agreed to purchase Safeway's Canadian operations). To that end, Empire Theatres wound down its operations and sold or closed all of its theatres. Cineplex Entertainment announced the purchase of 24 Empire Theatres locations in Atlantic Canada that same day. The sale also included 2 IMAX screens in Halifax, NS and St. John's, NL. and 2 Empire Extra screens in Dartmouth, NS and Dieppe, NB. The acquired Empire Extra screens were rebranded as UltraAVX. Cineplex Entertainment received Competition Bureau Approval to buy 24 Empire Theatres in Atlantic Canada for approximately C$194 million on October 10, 2013.
The Empire Theatres in Atlantic Canada closed on October 22, 2013 after the evening shows and the sale was completed on October 24, 2013. On October 24 & 25, 2013, the theatres reopened as Cineplex Cinemas. Following the sale of Empire Theatres operations to Cineplex and Landmark Cinemas, Cineplex became the only significant chain in Atlantic Canada, a role previously held by Empire only. At first, the Empire Kanata and Whitby Theatres were to be sold to Cineplex, but were sold to Landmark Cinemas instead. In lieu of the Kanata location, Cineplex later acquired the rights to Empire's planned 10-screen Lansdowne Park location in Ottawa.
In the 2010s, Cineplex began to deploy a new concept, "VIP Cinemas", at selected locations, featuring premium amenities such as reclining seats, in-seat meal services, and a licensed lounge. On August 15, 2014, Cineplex opened a dedicated VIP Cinemas Don Mills location, the first to be devoted solely to the format. By 2017, the company had also begun to retrofit selected non-VIP auditoriums to feature reclining seating, as part of an effort to improve the customer experience.
2019-present: Acquisition by Cineworld
On December 16, 2019, Cineplex announced a definitive agreement to be acquired by the British cinema operator Cineworld Group, the second-largest film exhibitor worldwide, pending shareholder and regulatory approval. Cineworld will be paying $34 per-share—a 42% premium over Cineplex's share price prior to the announcement, valuing the company at CDN$2.8 billion. Cineworld will pay US$1.65 billion, and fund the remainder by taking on debt. Combined with its ownership of the 564-location Regal Cinemas chain in the United States (which it had acquired the previous year), the sale will make Cineworld the largest cinema chain in North America. The company stated that Cineplex's operations were to be integrated with those of Regal, and that it planned to reach $120 million in cost efficiencies and revenue synergies (including the adoption of a subscription service scheme similar to Regal and Cineworld) by the end of fiscal year 2020.
Cineplex operates cinemas using the following banners: Cineplex Cinemas (known as Cineplex Odeon Cinemas for many pre-2013 locations), Cineplex VIP Cinemas, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity (French: StarCité), Galaxy, Famous Players, and Cinema City. The Coliseum (French: Colisée) and Colossus banners have been phased out in favour of the Cineplex Cinemas banner, but the unique architectural features of these theatres has been preserved.
Selected Cineplex locations offer premium screens and features for a higher ticket price, including large-screen formats, motion seats, and VIP. Following the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Cineplex reported that at least 80% of customers watched the film with one of its premium formats, and 40% of the company's overall box office revenue came from premium formats.
- Prime Seats are reserved seating rows in selected auditoriums, near the middle of the audience. They were first piloted in Ontario in 2014, before receiving a wider roll-out.
- The company currently operates 24 digital IMAX screens. Only one of these, Cineplex Cinemas Markham and VIP, was built by Cineplex rather than acquired from another theatre chain. The screen size is from about 73 to 119 feet, depending on the venue. As of July 2017, five Cineplex locations offer IMAX 70 mm film playback: both Scotiabank Theatre locations in Alberta, plus the Langley location (former Colossus) in Metro Vancouver, and the Mississauga and Vaughan locations (former Coliseum and Colossus, respectively) in the Greater Toronto Area.
- UltraAVX auditoriums feature a larger "wall-to-wall" screen with 4K projectors, Dolby Atmos surround sound, and reserved seating .
- D-Box seats are available at selected locations, which offer motion effects synchronized with the film. About a dozen locations offer D-Box on UltraAVX screens.
- VIP Cinemas refer to screens featuring a premium, adult-oriented experience. They feature reserved seating, leather reclining seats with tables, a "VIP Lounge" area with a licensed bar, and in-seat meal services offering snacks and other premium menu options. Access to VIP Cinemas are restricted by the legal drinking age; depending on local laws, some locations also allow consumption of alcoholic beverages inside the auditorium (otherwise only allowing it to be consumed in the VIP Lounge). VIP Cinemas are offered at selected flagship locations, and Cineplex has also constructed several locations devoted exclusively to the format.
- 4DX, a 4D film format, first launched at Cineplex Cinemas Yonge-Dundas on November 4, 2016. It debuted alongside the premiere of Doctor Strange as Canada's first cinema screen to feature the technology. 4DX includes stereoscopic 3D, as well as seat motion and other practical effects such as wind, strobes, and smell among others. A second 4DX screen opened at Scotiabank Theatre Chinook Centre Calgary in August 2019.
- Clubhouse is an auditorium concept designed primarily for children, featuring family films, multi-colored seats and a play structure.
Arcades and amusement
Most Cineplex locations feature arcade areas under various brands. In June 2009, Cineplex began to deploy a new concept known as "Xscape Entertainment Centre", incorporating it into new locations or refurbishing existing locations to utilize the format. There are 28 locations as of September 30, 2017. Xscape feature both redemption games and traditional games, with some locations also including a licensed lounge and party rooms. They utilize card systems to store credits and points for prizes, and provide offers for Scene rewards users. About 77 other Cineplex locations continue to feature a "Cinescape" arcade, replacing the TechTown brand previously deployed by Famous Players and Playdium. In 2017, Cineplex began to expand the Xscape brand internationally, beginning with two standalone Xscape arcades at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.
In January 2015, Cineplex announced a new entertainment restaurant chain known as The Rec Room. Comparable to Dave & Buster's, which operates two locations in the province of Ontario, The Rec Room features restaurant and bar areas, recreational game areas, simulators, and an auditorium equipped with a cinema-style screen. Cineplex CEO Ellis Jacob explained that the chain is meant to help the company diversify beyond its core cinema business in the wake of the growing streaming industry, The first location opened in South Edmonton Common in 2016. A second location in Toronto's Roundhouse Park opened in June 2017, along with a second Edmonton location at West Edmonton Mall. Cineplex aims to open 10-15 locations of The Rec Room nationally, ranging in size from 30,000 to 60,000 square feet. Further locations were announced for Brentwood Town Centre in Burnaby, Masonville Place in London, Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga, Avalon Mall in St. Johns, Seasons of Tuxedo in Winnipeg, and Granville Street in Vancouver.
Cineplex owns Playdium, a major arcade and family entertainment centre in Mississauga, Ontario. On October 2, 2017, Cineplex announced that it would re-launch the Playdium brand as a new entertainment restaurant chain.
In November 2017, an IMAX VR centre opened at Scotiabank Theatre Toronto, as IMAX VR's first location in Canada. The following month, a D-Box VR experience launched at the Ottawa location. The IMAX VR centre closed in 2019, as part of the discontinuation of the IMAX VR pilot project.
In July 2018, after having opened such an attraction at The Rec Room at Roundhouse Park, Cineplex Entertainment announced that it had reached an agreement to be the exclusive Canadian franchisee of The Void — a chain of mixed reality entertainment attractions.
On September 13, 2018, Cineplex announced that it would acquire a stake in VRStudios—a Seattle-based provider of virtual reality installations, and utilize its equipment for as many as 40 VR centres across the country.
Launched in 2007, Scene is the entertainment rewards program jointly owned by Scotiabank and Cineplex Entertainment.
Food and beverages
Cineplex has an Outtakes restaurant in 94 theatres, some which replace previous restaurant partners (Burger King, KFC and New York Fries) and others which introduce restaurants at locations which did not previously feature one. VIP Cinemas and some Xscape locations feature a licensed lounge with more premium offerings compared to Outtakes. Poptopia is a flavoured popcorn restaurant offered in a full-service format at 22 locations. Other Cineplex theatres may feature Poptopia at the concession stand, but only in the caramel corn and/or kettle corn flavours.
Ice cream at Cineplex locations debuted with Baskin-Robbins and TCBY. Beginning in December 2007, Yogen Früz became the preferred partner. On January 1, 2014, Cineplex acquired a 50% stake in Yoyo's Yogurt Café. As of January 2017, 77 Cineplex theatres feature Yoyo's restaurants, while Yogen Fruz is still available in 23 Cineplex theatres while TCBY is available in 16 locations.
Beverages are available in both cold and hot formats. Cold beverages include the Coca-Cola lineup, which replaced the Pepsi lineup used at locations formerly owned by Famous Players. 12 locations feature Coca-Cola Freestyle. Hot beverages include Starbucks as the incumbent provider with 105 locations, all which offer Pike Place Roast coffee (regular or decaf) and Tazo tea. Select locations also offer premium drinks such as caffè mocha or caramel macchiato. Tim Hortons is available as a full-service restaurant in five locations, with Brossard being the only location to offer both Tim Hortons and Starbucks.
In most theatres, Cineplex offers sale of alcohol to 19+ guests in Ontario (18+ in Alberta) similar to the VIP theatres albeit from a selection of beer or cider beverages.
The current Chief Executive Officer and President of Cineplex Entertainment is Ellis Jacob. Alongside with Jacob are Jordan Banks who serves as a Facebook executive, Robert Bruce, Joan Dea, Ian Greenberg, the founder of Astral Media, Sarabjit S. Marwah, Anthony Munk, Edward Sonshine, Robert J. Steacy and Phyllis Yaffe, who serves as its chair.
Criticism and controversy
A class action lawsuit against Cineplex Inc. was filed by Docken & Company in Calgary on November 14, 2012, on behalf of the class action representative plaintiff Matthew Starchuk. The statement of claim says he was charged full price despite advertising saying movie tickets are discounted on Tuesdays as part of a deal called Cineplex Tuesdays. The night that Starchuk and his brother went to see the Spider-Man sequel on Tuesday, July 3, 2012, it was opening in theatres across North America. The film grossed a record $35 million around the continent during that 24-hour period. Thousands of individuals have already joined the class action suit, all claiming similar incidents of being charged full price and not offered the discounted rate. Cineplex advertises on its website the following: "On Tuesdays, ticket prices for ALL performances (3D, UltraAVX, UltraAVX 3D, IMAX, IMAX 3D, VIP, VIP 3D or D-BOX) can be purchased at the Tuesday discounted rate." Since the lawsuit has been filed Cineplex Inc. revised their website stating the following: "On Tuesdays (subject to rare exception), ticket prices for all performances (3D, UltraAVX, UltraAVX 3D, IMAX, IMAX 3D, VIP, VIP 3D or D-BOX) can be purchased at the Tuesday discounted rate." Cineplex is alleged to have breached consumer protection statutes in Alberta and the rest of Canada; specifically the Fair Trading Act RSA 2000,cF-2, and the Competition Act RSC 1985,c C-34. A settlement was reached whereby Cineplex will donate $20,000 to a charity and reimburse the plaintiffs $7,000.
In 2019, the producers of Unplanned, an anti-abortion-themed film, criticized Cineplex for initially declining to pick up the film after securing a Canadian distributor. They felt it amounted to an effective "ban" of the film from Canada due to the company's scale. The film's co-director Cory Solomon also, along with other pro-life supporters and religious groups, called for a boycott of Cineplex. The company later announced that it would—joining competitor Landmark Cinemas and a handful of independent cinemas—screen Unplanned with a one-week limited release at 24 Cineplex locations. The decision was praised by pro-life supporters, but did lead to criticism from pro-choice groups due to disputes over the film's content (with the Alberta Pro-Choice Coalition stating that it planned to hold a peaceful protest outside Scotiabank Theatre Chinook Centre). The film itself had already attracted criticism from groups, such as the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, over its factual accuracy, with the Coalition describing it as "American propaganda".
During the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, festival organizers stated that Cineplex would no longer allow films distributed by an online video service (such as Amazon Video or Netflix) to be screened at the Scotiabank Theatre Toronto (which has been considered the "primary" venue of the event for major screenings) due to company policy, as the services do not adhere to industry-standard theatrical windows. ScreenDaily stated that this was "believed to be the first time an exhibitor’s position on theatrical windowing has affected scheduling at a major film festival".
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