Multiplex (movie theater)
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A multiplex is a movie theater complex with multiple screens, typically six, ten, or more screens. 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.
Definitions of what constitutes a multiplex versus a megaplex is related to the number of screens, but often the comparison is arbitrary. For example, 12 to 20 screens may constitute a multiplex, whereas theaters above 20 screens may be branded a megaplex. Megaplex theaters sometimes feature stadium seating and other amenities often not found at smaller movie theaters. Multiplex theatres often feature regular seating.
The lineage of multiplex movie theaters traces its roots back to the 1930s, although the concept truly did not begin to take root until the mid-1960s.
In December 1947, Nat Taylor, the operator of the Elgin Theatre in Ottawa, Canada, opened a smaller second theater ("Litle Elgin") next door to his first theater. It wasn't 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. Taylor opened dual-screen theaters in 1962 in Place Ville Marie in Montreal, Quebec, and at Yorkdale Plaza in Toronto, Ontario, in 1964.
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 Taylor.
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." 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 theatre in 1966 and a six-screen theatre in 1969.
In 1965, Martin's Westgate Cinemas became one of the first indoor two-screen theatres 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 theatres. The Disney family film Those Calloways had its world premier at the Westgate, the only film to have been so honored at that theatre.
Screen Wars 
On December 30, 1996, AMC Ontario Mills 30, a 30-screen theatre, opened in Ontario, California, and became the theatre with the most screens in the world.
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 centres 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 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.
Around the world 
Largest cinema complex (megaplex) 
Kinepolis Madrid opened in Spain on 17 September 1998; it is the world's largest cinema complex and has a total seating capacity of 9,200 with 25 screens, each seating between 211 and 996 people. The world's tallest cinema complex is the Cineworld Glasgow Renfrew Street in Scotland at 203 feet. Opened in 2001, it has 18 screens and seats 4,300 people.
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. (The Beverly Center Cinemas closed in June 2010).
The AMC Grand 24 opened in Dallas, Texas 1995 as the first 24-screen multiplex built from the ground up in the United States. 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. The building has been divided and is scheduled to reopen in 2012 as a Toby Keith-owned nightclub and a 14-screen first-run movie theater operated by Southern Theatres as the "AmStar 14".
Canada's largest movie theaters over the years have been located in Toronto. As mentioned above the 18-(later 21-)screen Cineplex at Eaton Centre 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. Then in 2008, the 24-screen AMC Yonge Dundas 24, adjacent to the Eaton Centre, was completed. Cineplex Entertainment purchased the theater, still Canada's largest multiplex cinema, in 2012, bringing the company full circle.
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.
In India, the mushrooming of multiplexes since the mid-90s has changed the dynamics of the Indian Film Industry. India's first multiplex was MARIS COMPLEX with 5 screens in it and was opened in 80s in Tiruchirappalli. Production costs are now recovered in days, not months and viewers have accepted the concept. There have been concerns over high ticket prices, and the phenomena has predominantly been restricted to the larger cities, but Indian cinema chains like INOX, PVR (Priya Village Roadshow), SPI Cinemas and CineMAX are changing the rules of exhibition in the world's largest film industry. The largest multiplex in India is the 16-screen multiplex by Mayajaal in Chennai.
See also 
- Melnick, Ross & Fuchs, Andrea. Cinema treasures: a new look at classic movie theaters p. 180-81 (2004)(ISBN 978-0760314920)("the new 'megaplex' theater, defined as containing 20 or more screens"; "Durwood opened the AMC Grand 24 (Dallas) in May 1995")
- "The Many Births of the Multiplex". Cinelog.org. June 27, 2009. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
- Klady, Leonard. "Obituaries: Stanley Durwood." Variety, July 19, 1999, p. 40.
- "Stan Durwood; Multiplex Theater Pioneer". The Los Angeles Times. July 16, 1999. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
- Sid Adilman (August 5, 1979). "Cineplex 18: Movies for Many Tastes". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 17, 2009.("Cineplex opened mid-April...")
- Andrew H. Malcolm (November 22, 1981). "Toronto Movie Bazaar". The New York Times. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
- 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.
- Acland, Charles R. Screen traffic: movies, multiplexes, and global culture p.136 (2003)(ISBN 978-0822331636)
- Degen Pener (June 6, 1997). "Tyrannosaurus Plex". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
- UGC / Cineworld City Centre
- Europe's Tallest Cinema - Cineworld Glasgow Renfrew St
- Aljean Harmetz (July 28, 1982). "14 screens housed in 1 theater complex". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved November 17, 2009.[dead link]
- Wilonsky, Robert (May 27, 2010). "It's Curtains For the AMC Grand 24". Unfair Park (Dallas Observer). Retrieved May 27, 2010.
- Wilonksy, Robert (September 1, 2011). "So, the Old AMC Grand 24 Will Remain a Movie Theater After All. Half of It, Anyway.". Unfair Park (Dallas Observer). 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.