Multiplex (movie theater)

A Multiplex is a movie theater complex with multiple screens within a single complex. They are usually housed in a specially designed building. Sometimes, an existing venue undergoes a renovation where the existing auditoriums are split into smaller ones, or more auditoriums are added in an extension or expansion of the building. The largest of these complexes can sit thousands of people and are sometimes referred to as a megaplex.

The difference between a multiplex and a megaplex is related to the number of screens, but the dividing line is not well-defined; some might say that 14 screens and stadium seating make a megaplex; while others might say that at least 20 screens are required.[1] Megaplex theaters always have stadium seating, and may have other amenities often not found at smaller movie theaters. Multiplex theatres often feature regular seating.

The Kinepolis-Madrid Ciudad de la Imagen megaplex in Spain is the largest movie theater in the world, with 25 screens and a seating capacity of 9,200 including a 996-seat auditorium.[2][3][4]



In about 1915 two adjacent theatres in Moncton, New Brunswick, under the same ownership were converted to share a single entrance on Main Street. After patrons entered the door, there were separate ticket booths for each theatre, and different programs were shown. The arrangement was so unusual that it was featured by Robert Ripley in his Believe It or Not! comic strip.[5]

In 1937 James Edwards twinned his Alhambra Theater in the Los Angeles area by converting an adjacent storefront into a second "annex" screen. While both screens would show the same feature movie, one would also offer a double bill. It did not convert to showing different movies on both screens until some time after Nat Taylor (see below).[6] On February 25, 1940, the Patricia Theater made news by becoming what is believed to be the first two-screen theater showing different movies when operator H. Bert Ram added a screen to an adjoining building and shared a common box office. The main screen remained the Patricia Theatre and the Patricia Annex became known as the Little Patricia.[7]

In December 1947 Nat Taylor, the operator of the Elgin Theatre in Ottawa, Canada, opened a smaller second theater ("Little Elgin") next door to his first theater. It was not until 1957, however, that Taylor decided to run different movies in each theater, when he became annoyed at having to replace films that were still making money with new releases.[6] Taylor opened dual-screen theaters in 1962 in Place Ville Marie in Montreal, Quebec, and at Yorkdale Plaza in Toronto, Ontario, in 1964.

Also in late 1947, but in Havana, Cuba, the Duplex movie theater was built to share the vestibule and ancillary facilities with the previously existing Rex Cinema (open since 1938); they were both designed by the same architect, Luis Bonich. The programming was coordinated, so that one of them showed documentary and news reels. while the other was showing feature films.[8][9] They were in use at least until the 1990s.

In 1963 AMC Theatres opened the two-screen Parkway Twin in Kansas City, a concept which company president Stan Durwood later claimed to have come up with in 1962, realizing he could double the revenue of a single theater "by adding a second screen and still operate with the same size staff".[6][10] Also, the shopping center structure where the Parkway was located could not support a large theater, so two small theaters were built to avoid that issue, and at first both theaters played the same film. AMC followed up on the Parkway Twin with a four-screen theater in 1966 and a six-screen theater in 1969.[11] Durwood's insight was that one box office and one concession stand could easily serve two (or more) attached auditoriums. Another AMC innovation was to offset the starting times of films, so that staff members who previously had downtime while films were playing at a single-auditorium theater would now be kept continuously busy servicing other auditoriums.

In 1965 Martin's Westgate Cinemas became one of the first indoor two-screen theaters in Atlanta, Georgia. Located in East Point, Georgia, it was later converted into a three-screen venue after a fire partially destroyed one of the theaters. The Disney family film Those Calloways had its world premier at the Westgate,[12] the only film to have been so honored at that theater.

Screen wars

Opening in April 1979, the 18-screen Cineplex, co-founded by Nat Taylor in Toronto's Eaton Centre, became the world's largest multitheatre complex under one roof.[13] It was expanded to 21 screens by at least 1981.[14]

In November 1988, Kinepolis Brussels opened with 25 screens,[15] and is often credited as being the first "megaplex".[16]

On December 30, 1996, AMC Ontario Mills 30, a 30-screen theater, opened in Ontario, California, and became the theater with the most screens in the world.[17] This was eventually tied in the late 1990s by other AMC 30-screen theaters.


During a high period of growth in many towns, the competition presented by a multiplex would often put the town's smaller theaters out of business. Multiplexes were often developed in conjunction with big box stores in power centers or in suburban malls during the 70s and 80s. The expansion was executed at the big-box pace which left many theater companies bankrupt while attempting to compete — almost all major movie theater companies went bankrupt during this hasty development process; however, AMC Theatres and Cinemark Theatres did not go into bankruptcy. The early U.S. megaplexes sparked a wave of megaplex building across the United States. This was financed in part by a sale-leaseback model with Entertainment Properties Trust.

Largest cinema complex

Kinepolis Madrid opened in Spain on 17 September 1998; it is the world's largest cinema complex in terms of number of seats and has a total seating capacity of 9,200 with 25 screens, each seating between 211 and 996 people.[2][3][4] The world's tallest cinema complex is the Cineworld Glasgow Renfrew Street in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom at 203 feet. Opened in 2001, it has 18 screens and seats 4,300 people.[18][19]

Around the world


The largest megaplex in the Southern Hemisphere is the 26-screen Marion MEGAPLEX in Adelaide, South Australia. The megaplex was originally a 30-screen megaplex branded as Greater Union but was modified to accommodate Gold Class and V-Max screens and was re-branded as Event Cinemas. The auditoriums sit on top of Westfield Marion, which is the largest shopping complex in Adelaide.


Canada's largest movie theaters over the years have been located in Toronto. As mentioned above the 18- (later 21-) screen Cineplex was the movie theater with the most screens in the world until the late 1980s, but remained the largest movie theater in Canada until it was closed at the turn of the 21st century. In 1998, AMC expanded to Canada, building large movie theatres with as many as 24 screens before opening a 30-plex there in 1999, which is the AMC Interchange 30. Then in 2008, the 24-screen AMC Yonge Dundas 24, adjacent to the Eaton Centre, was completed. Cineplex Entertainment purchased the theater in 2012, along with several other Canadian AMC megaplexes, bringing the company full circle. After that, some more were closed or sold to Empire Theatres. AMC exited Canada by closing the AMC Interchange 30 in 2014.


France's largest movie theaters are: 27-screen UGC Ciné Cité Les Halles (3,913 seats) in Paris, 23-screen Kinépolis - Château du Cinéma in Lomme (7,286 seats), 22-screen UGC Ciné Cité Strasbourg (5,275 seats) and 20-screen MK2 Bibliothèque in Paris (3,500 seats).


Greece' s largest multiplex is Village Rentis, that features 18 mainstream screens, two comfort (special type of a mainstream screen, better seating and less auditorium), three RealD 3D screens and one summer screen. In total it features 21 screens.


In India, the mushrooming of multiplexes started since the mid-1990s. Cinema chains such as INOX, PVR, Carnival Cinemas, SPI Cinemas, Cinepolis and Big Cinemas operate multiplexes across the country. The largest multiplex in India is the 16-screen megaplex Mayajaal in chennai. CINE SQUARE CINEMAS


In the Netherlands there weren't many multiplexes until the millennial change. In April 2000 Pathé ArenA opened its doors in the ArenAPoort area in Amsterdam. It's the largest multiplex in the Netherlands and features 14 screens and 3250 seats in total. Nowadays a lot of other multiplexes are being set up, but so far none of them have surpassed Pathé ArenA's capacity.


Multiplexes (multicines) are very popular in Spain and they can be found in or close to most cities, displacing the traditional single-screen theaters.[20] Many middle-sized and large cities have several of them, and they are also common in malls. The average number of screens per theater was 5.2 in 2016.[21]

The Kinepolis-Madrid Ciudad de la Imagen megaplex has been the largest movie theater in the world since 1998, with 25 screens and a seating capacity of 9,200 including a 996-seat auditorium.[2][3][4] Kinepolis-Valencia, built in 2001, boasts 24 screens and 8,000 seats.

United Kingdom

Multiplex cinemas were introduced to the United Kingdom with the opening of a ten-screen cinema by AMC Cinemas at The Point in Milton Keynes in 1985. This not only was AMC's first multiplex outside of the United States, but also the first for the UK[22][23] and was largely responsible for the turnaround in the decline of the UK cinema industry. The success of the cinema at Milton Keynes led to further expansion by AMC in the UK to Newcastle, Dudley, Telford, Warrington and by royal appointment to London, before it eventually sold its UK division to UCI Cinemas in 1989.[22] Non-multiplex cinemas are now rare in the UK.

United States

In the United States, the 14-screen Cineplex in the Beverly Center Mall in West Hollywood, California, became the country's largest upon opening in 1982.[24] (The Beverly Center Cinemas closed in June 2010.)

In December 1988, Studio 28 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, expanded from 12 to 20 screens with a seating capacity of 6,000.[25] (Studio 28 closed in November 2008).

The AMC Grand 24 opened in Dallas, Texas in 1995 as the first 24-screen megaiplex built from the ground up in the United States.[1] AMC Theatres has since built many megaplexes with up to 30 screens, starting with the AMC Ontario Mills 30. After a lease renewal dispute with the property owner, the AMC Grand 24 closed sometime in November 2010.[26] The building has been divided and reopened in 2012 as a Toby Keith–owned nightclub and a 14-screen first-run movie theater operated by Southern Theatres as the "AmStar 14". This theatre is now the Studio Movie Grill Northwest Highway as of 2013. With 14 screens and stadium seating, this theatre is still considered a megaplex.[27]

See also


  1. Melnick, Ross & Fuchs, Andrea (2004). Cinema Treasures: A New Look at Classic Movie Theaters. pp. 180–81. ISBN 978-0760314920. "[T]he new 'megaplex' theater, defined as containing 20 or more screens"; "Durwood opened the AMC Grand 24 (Dallas) in May 1995".
  2. Watts, Christopher. "Mega-ambitious". Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  3. Bennett, Laura (20 June 2010). "Moviegoing in the land of Almodóvar". Retrieved 5 April 2018 via The Boston Globe.
  4. "Fabulous Fifteen - Film Journal International". Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  5. Larracey, E. W. (1991). The History of Moncton, Volume 2, Moncton: The City of Moncton, p 127. ISBN 0-9694634-2-1
  6. "The Many Births of the Multiplex". June 27, 2009. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
  7. "Aiken to be 17th City to Show Film ("Gone with the Wind"); Little Patricia to Open Same Day." Aiken Standard, 14 February 1940, p. 5 and see
  9. Melnick, Ross & Andrea Fuchs. Cinema Treasures: A New Look at Classic Movie Theatres. St. Paul: MBI, 2004. Page 147
  10. Klady, Leonard. "Obituaries: Stanley Durwood". Variety, July 19, 1999, p. 40.
  11. "Stan Durwood; Multiplex Theater Pioneer". Los Angeles Times. July 16, 1999. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
  12. "Those Calloways (1965)". Retrieved 5 April 2018 via
  13. Sid Adilman (August 5, 1979). "Cineplex 18: Movies for Many Tastes". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 17, 2009. Cineplex opened mid-April...
  14. Andrew H. Malcolm (November 22, 1981). "Toronto Movie Bazaar". The New York Times. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
  15. John Tagliabue (January 27, 2000). "Now Playing Europe: Invasion of the Multiplex; With Subplots on Pride and Environment". The New York Times. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
  16. Acland, Charles R. (2003). Screen Traffic: Movies, Multiplexes, and Global Culture. p. 136. ISBN 978-0822331636.
  17. Degen Pener (June 6, 1997). "Tyrannosaurus Plex". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
  18. Barr, G. "UGC / Cineworld City Centre". Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  19. "Cineworld". Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  20. 20Minutos. "Aumenta número de salas de cine en España, aunque cada vez son más pequeñas". Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  21. "¿CUÁNTOS CINES HAY EN ESPAÑA? ¿CUÁNTOS CINES TIENE CADA COMUNIDAD AUTÓNOMA? - El Blog de Cine Español". Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  22. "AMC CINEMAS® BRINGS THE MULTIPLEX TO THE UNITED KINGDOM". Archived from the original on 2015-01-04. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
  23. "How multiplex cinemas saved the British film industry 25 years ago". The Guardian, UK. 25 November 2010. Retrieved 3 January 2015. External link in |website= (help)
  24. Aljean Harmetz (July 28, 1982). "14 screens housed in 1 theater complex". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Archived from the original on January 25, 2013. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
  25. Jack Loeks' Studio 28 in Grand Rapids, MI. Cinema Treasures. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  26. Wilonsky, Robert (May 27, 2010). "It's Curtains For the AMC Grand 24". Dallas Observer. Unfair Park blog. Retrieved May 27, 2010.
  27. Wilonksy, Robert (September 1, 2011). "So, the Old AMC Grand 24 Will Remain a Movie Theater After All. Half of It, Anyway. Sri Lanka The first multiplex CINECITY was opened in 2000 which consisted four screens . Now the second one is operational in colombo , majestic - which too has four screens". Dallas Observer. Unfair Park blog. Retrieved September 1, 2011.
  • Marlene Edmunds, "Kinepolis Keeps the Plexes Coming", Variety, June 15, 1998, p. 74.
  • William Echikson, "Taking the Megaplex on the Road", Business Week, no. 3547 (Oct. 6, 1997), p. 21.
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