Empire Theatres

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This article is about the Canadian cinema circuit. For the British cinema company, see Empire Cinemas.
Empire Theatres Limited
Private (subsidiary of Empire Company Ltd.)
Industry Movie theatres
Fate 24 sold to Cineplex in Atlantic Canada.
23 sold to Landmark Cinemas in Ontario and Western Canada.
3 others closed.
Founded 1978[1]
Defunct 2013
Headquarters Stellarton, Nova Scotia[1]
Area served
Canada
Key people
Stuart G. Fraser, President and CEO
Valerie J. Ryan, COO
Paul Wigginton, Vice-President and CFO
Number of employees
approx. 3000[1]
Parent Empire Company

Empire Theatres Limited was a movie theatre chain in Canada, a subsidiary of Empire Company Ltd., the holding company of the Sobey family conglomerate.

In June 2013, Empire announced it would exit the movie theatre business, selling the vast majority of locations to Cineplex (24 in Atlantic Canada) and Landmark Cinemas (23, in Ontario and western Canada, including two locations originally slated to be purchased by Cineplex and the Downtown Ottawa theatre). Three other locations in operation at the time of the announcement were not included in either deal which are now closed.

History[edit]

Formation[edit]

Empire Theatres was formed from the Sobey family's purchase of the Atlantic assets of Canadian Odeon Theatres, later Cineplex Odeon, in 1984. Later, it also acquired selected Famous Players theatres locations, including those in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Famous Players remained a major competitor in the Maritimes. Empire responded by opening several new or replacement locations along the lines of the multiplexes being opened by Cineplex and Famous Players in the rest of Canada.

Despite an aggressive expansion in the Maritimes in the mid-1990s, Famous Players had focused on improvements elsewhere and did not match Empire's moves, one of which included an 18-screen (including one IMAX screen) multiplex in the Bayers Lake Business Park in suburban Halifax. With comparably minor interests in the region, Famous Players cut back on marketing and then sold its remaining screens in Atlantic Canada to Empire Theatres in 2004.

Expansion to Western Canada[edit]

On August 22, 2005, Empire announced it would acquire 27 theatres, with a total of 202 screens, in locations from British Columbia to Ontario, from Cineplex Galaxy LP, as a result of the latter's acquisition of Famous Players Theatres, effectively doubling Empire's size. Most of the locations are smaller "traditional" venues, but some are larger theatres, such as Coliseum Calgary (now Empire Theatres Shawnessy), SilverCity theatres in Kitchener and St. Catharines, Ontario, one in Calgary, Alberta (now Empire Theatres Kitchener, Empire Theatres Pen Centre, and Empire Theatres Country Hills respectively), and Cineplex Odeon Square One in Mississauga (now Empire Theatres Square One). The deal closed September 30, 2005. [2]

In December 2009, the Empire Theatres chain had 48 screens equipped with digital projection and RealD 3D capabilities.[3] In March 2012, Empire announced that it was the "first national exhibitor in Canada to complete circuit wide digital cinema conversion", with 359 screens converted, 40 percent of which have RealD 3D capability.[4]

On June 21, 2012, Empire announced the acquisition of two Ontario-based theatres[5] from AMC Theatres, located in Kanata, Ontario and Whitby, Ontario. Each theatre features 24 screens, including an IMAX experience auditorium. Empire had also announced plans to equip all screens in these locations with Barco digital technology, and some with RealD 3D technology, to "provide movie-goers with a state-of-the-art movie presentation experience".

Sale to Cineplex and Landmark[edit]

On June 27, 2013, Empire Company Ltd. announced that it would be focusing 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 as follows:[6]

  • Cineplex Entertainment purchased 24 theatres for approximately C$194 million, consisting of all Empire locations in Atlantic Canada, and renamed them Cineplex Cinemas upon sale completion. The deal included two Empire Extra screens (one in Dieppe and another in Dartmouth), now replaced by UltraAVX with Dolby Atmos, and two IMAX screens (one in Halifax and another in St. John's).[7] The deal was to include the two former AMC locations in Kanata and Whitby, but these were later removed from this deal due to Competition Bureau concerns.
  • Landmark Cinemas purchased another 23 theatres in Ontario and Western Canada, most being locations which Cineplex had to divest when it merged with Famous Players in 2005. Landmark paid C$55 million for a minority equity share and management control of the theatres, which was later financed by TriWest Capital Partners. The deal includes three Empire Extra screens (Waterloo, Calgary and Orleans), now rebranded to The Extra Experience, and five IMAX screens (Kitchener, Whitby, Kingston, Ottawa, and Calgary).[8] Landmark took over the World Exchange Plaza location, which closed on December 29, 2013 when its lease expired.[9] [10]
  • Three locations were not included in the sales and, following the announcements, were closed. Empire owns the property for two of them – a drive-in in Westville, Nova Scotia and Empire Theatres Victoria (the former Capitol 6) in Victoria, British Columbia – and will sell the real estate, though no timeline for these sales was provided.[11] The leases for the World Exchange Plaza in Ottawa expired in 2013. The Elgin Mills 10 closed on August 15, 2013, but was acquired by Rainbow Cinemas in October 2013 and reopened on November 20, 2013. [12] The Drive In closed permanently on September 2, 2013. The Victoria theatre closed on October 17, 2013.[13][14] The Westmount Centre Empire closed in spring 2011, and is vacant from 2012-present.

In addition to existing locations, Empire had announced plans to construct four additional locations:

  • Empire initially did not sell its rights to a planned 10-screen location at Ottawa's Lansdowne Park, remaining committed to the project.[14] On February 24, 2014, Cineplex announced that it has secured the rights to this theatre. The ten screens include two 2D screens, three 3D screens, four VIP screens (a first for any Cineplex theatre in Ottawa) with optional 3D and one UltraAVX screen with optional D-BOX and 3D.[15]
  • New locations were also announced in Markham, Edmonton (with IMAX) and St. John's (with Empire Extra). The future of all three projects is unclear, although Cineplex's deal includes the St. John's location.[16]

On October 10, 2013, Cineplex received Competition Bureau approval to buy 24 Empire Theatres in Atlantic Canada. In order to win approval, the Kanata and Whitby theatres were removed from the transaction and will now be transferred to Landmark Cinemas instead. On October 22, 2013, Empire Theatres closed its Atlantic Canada locations after the evening shows. [17][18] The Atlantic Canada theatres sale to Cineplex was completed on October 24, 2013. [19] On October 24 or 25, 2013, the theatres reopened as Cineplex Cinemas.

On October 29, 2013, Empire Theatres closed its Ontario and Western Canada locations after the evening shows and reopened on October 31, 2013, as Landmark Cinemas.[20] Also on October 30, 2013, Empire Theatres closed permanently. The sale to Landmark Cinemas was closed on October 31, 2013. [21] The Ottawa 7 theatre was run on a management contract until December 29, 2013 when it closed. Also on November 1, 2013, Empire Company Ltd. announced the completion of the sale of Empire Theatres. [22]

Refreshments[edit]

Many Empire venues supplied New York Fries, Pretzelmaker, TCBY, and Pizza Pizza or Pizza 73 (such as Empire Theatres Pen Centre, Empire Theatres Guildford and Empire Theatres Bayer's Lake and IMAX Theatre in Bayer's Lake - Suburban Halifax, Nova Scotia). Along with these food venues, Empire Theatres also had their own traditional food venue in every theatre with food items such as popcorn and nachos.[citation needed]

Locations[edit]

The following is a list of locations at time of closure:

City Theatre New owner Reference

Alberta[edit]

Calgary Empire Studio 10 Macleod Trail Landmark [23]
Calgary Empire Studio 16 Country Hills Landmark [24]
Edmonton Empire City Centre 9 Cinemas Landmark [25]
Edmonton Empire Clareview 10 Cinemas Landmark [26]
Spruce Grove Empire Spruce Grove Cinemas Landmark N/A

British Columbia[edit]

North Vancouver (city) Empire Theatres Esplanade Landmark [27]
Surrey Empire Theatres Guildford Landmark [28]
Victoria Empire Theatres University Heights Landmark [29]

Manitoba[edit]

Brandon Empire Capitol Theatre Landmark [30]
Winkler Empire Southland Cinemas Landmark N/A
Winnipeg Empire Grant Park 8 Cinemas Landmark N/A

Ontario[edit]

Bolton Empire 7 Cinemas Landmark [31]
Hamilton Empire Jackson Square 6 Cinemas Landmark [32]
Kingston Empire Theatres Kingston 10 & IMAX Landmark [33]
Kitchener Empire Theatres Kitchener Landmark [34]
London Empire Wellington 8 Cinemas Landmark [35]
Mississauga Empire Studio 10 at Square One Landmark [36]
Ottawa Empire Rideau N/A N/A
Ottawa Empire 7 Cinemas Landmark [37]
Ottawa Empire Theatres Kanata 24 Landmark N/A
Ottawa Empire Theatres Lansdowne Park Cineplex [38]
Ottawa Empire Theatres Orleans Landmark [39]
St. Catharines Empire Theatres Pen Centre Landmark [40]
Waterloo Empire Theatres Waterloo Landmark [41]
Whitby Empire Theatres Whitby 24 Landmark N/A

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "About Empire Theatres". Empiretheatres.com. Retrieved 2012-10-15. 
  2. ^ http://mediafiles.cineplex.com/_att/0cee5299-d78a-434e-8ed8-61179e4df807/2005-08-22--%20Cineplex%20Galaxy%20Announces%20Sale%20of%20Theatres%20to%20Empire%20Theatres%20Limited--.pdf
  3. ^ "RealD 3D, Empire Theatres Website". Empiretheatres.com. Retrieved 2012-10-15. 
  4. ^ "Empire Theatres is first national exhibitor in Canada to complete circuit wide digital cinema conversion" (PDF) (Press release). Empire Theatres. March 9, 2012. Retrieved May 6, 2012. 
  5. ^ "For Immediate Release" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-10-15. 
  6. ^ http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1191181/empire-company-announces-sale-of-empire-theatres
  7. ^ http://mediafiles.cineplex.com/_att/495a9313-0f42-443d-a3d7-81c0a196f2e8/Competition%20bureau%20approval%20press%20release.pdf
  8. ^ http://www.mmdnewswire.com/landmark-cinemas-of-canada-129948.html
  9. ^ http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Cinema+chain+taking+over+World+Exchange+theatre+hopes+keep+open/9084663/story.html
  10. ^ http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Last+movie+shown+Landmark+World+Exchange/9312756/story.html
  11. ^ Reid, Michael D. (2013-06-27). "Empire will sell Saanich theatre, continue to operate downtown Victoria screens as parent company restructures". Times Colonist. Retrieved 2013-06-27. 
  12. ^ http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1260395/rainbow-elgin-mills-cinema-opens-november-20
  13. ^ Marotte, Bertrand (2013-06-27). "Empire to focus on Sobeys, sells theatres to Cineplex, Landmark". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2013-06-27. 
  14. ^ a b Reeveley, David (2013-06-27). "Empire Theatres, anchor tenant at Lansdowne, bails out of movie business". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 2013-06-27. 
  15. ^ "Cineplex plans to open 10-screen Lansdowne Park theatre". February 24, 2014. Retrieved February 24, 2014. 
  16. ^ MacEachern, Daniel (2013-07-04). "Incoming theatre owners consider expansion". The Telegram. Retrieved 2013-07-13. 
  17. ^ http://mediafiles.cineplex.com/_att/495a9313-0f42-443d-a3d7-81c0a196f2e8/Competition%20bureau%20approval%20press%20release.pdf
  18. ^ http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/eic/site/cb-bc.nsf/eng/03617.html
  19. ^ http://mediafiles.cineplex.com/_att/cef449a0-7014-48f4-8fcc-47e621f336bf/Empire%20Acquisition%20Press%20Release%20102413.pdf
  20. ^ https://www.empiretheatres.com/goodbye
  21. ^ http://www.mmdnewswire.com/landmark-cinemas-canada-130252.html
  22. ^ http://www.empireco.ca/site/media/Empireco/Empire%20Theatres%20Sale%20Closing%20-%20FINAL.pdf
  23. ^ "Movie Times, Cinema Showtimes, Movies in Theatres". Empire Theatres. Retrieved 2012-02-18. 
  24. ^ "Movie Times, Cinema Showtimes, Movies in Theatres". Empire Theatres. Retrieved 2012-02-18. 
  25. ^ "Movie Times, Cinema Showtimes, Movies in Theatres". Empire Theatres. Retrieved 2012-02-18. 
  26. ^ "Movie Times, Cinema Showtimes, Movies in Theatres". Empire Theatres. Retrieved 2012-02-18. 
  27. ^ "Movie Times, Cinema Showtimes, Movies in Theatres". Empire Theatres. Retrieved 2012-02-18. 
  28. ^ "Movie Times, Cinema Showtimes, Movies in Theatres". Empire Theatres. Retrieved 2012-02-18. 
  29. ^ "Movie Times, Cinema Showtimes, Movies in Theatres". Empire Theatres. Retrieved 2012-02-18. 
  30. ^ "Movie Times, Cinema Showtimes, Movies in Theatres". Empire Theatres. Retrieved 2012-02-18. 
  31. ^ "Movie Times, Movies in Theatres, Cinema Showtimes". Empire Theatres. Retrieved 2012-10-15. 
  32. ^ "Movie Times, Movies in Theatres, Cinema Showtimes". Empire Theatres. Retrieved 2012-10-15. 
  33. ^ https://www.empiretheatres.com/theatre/showtimes/68/
  34. ^ "Movie Times, Movies in Theatres, Cinema Showtimes". Empire Theatres. Retrieved 2012-10-15. 
  35. ^ "Movie Times, Movies in Theatres, Cinema Showtimes". Empire Theatres. Retrieved 2012-10-15. 
  36. ^ "Movie Times, Movies in Theatres, Cinema Showtimes". Empire Theatres. Retrieved 2012-10-15. 
  37. ^ "Movie Times, Movies in Theatres, Cinema Showtimes". Empire Theatres. Retrieved 2012-10-15. 
  38. ^ "Empire Theatres Announces New Complex for Ottawa’s Lansdowne Park" (PDF). May 26, 2011. Retrieved February 24, 2014. 
  39. ^ "Movie Times, Movies in Theatres, Cinema Showtimes". Empire Theatres. Retrieved 2012-10-15. 
  40. ^ "Movie Times, Movies in Theatres, Cinema Showtimes". Empire Theatres. Retrieved 2012-10-15. 
  41. ^ http://www.empiretheatres.com/files/movies/2010/01/Empire_Theatres_Waterloo_Ontario.pdf