By Mario Toneguzzi
Television personality and movie mogul Vince Guzzo is planning on expanding his movie theatre empire from its base in Quebec to the rest of Canada.
Guzzo, who is president and CEO of Guzzo Cinemas and the newest Dragon on CBC’s Dragons’ Den, said he’s actively exploring growth and development potential for his business enterprises which means looking at moving into major markets such as Vancouver and Calgary.
Guzzo Cinemas is the largest chain of independent movie theatres and IMAX screens in Quebec and third largest in Canada with 10 locations with 141 screens and nine IMAX’s. Two more locations are scheduled to open next year in Montreal and Laval. All the locations are in the Montreal area.
The Montreal-based entrepreneur also runs a chain of fine dining restaurants and a construction company.
“I look forward to establishing new synergies and capitalizing on opportunities from coast-to-coast that make sense given my current business portfolio,” said Guzzo. “Quebecers are already familiar with the exceptional consumer experience associated with Guzzo Cinemas and my other businesses, and I’d like to share that dedication to strong customer service and top-quality products with the rest of Canada.
“After I went on Dragons’ Den I got a whole bunch of calls from landlords and from big land developers across B.C. and Alberta. That got us thinking. We knew we wanted to look at that area. We had looked at buying Landmark theatres in Calgary when it was up for sale before another group bought it. And with them calling us we now have a better picture of where people think there’s missing theatres. The landlords are the ones feeding us information right now and we’re in talks with various groups. Some of them are already landlords in Montreal. Some of them are not. Some of them are new people but they’re happy to hear that’s there’s a third potential player coming into the market.”
He said that expanding into other markets including major Canadian business hubs like Vancouver and Calgary will allow him to take advantage of the broad economic opportunities available in other parts of the country.
But Guzzo was coy about specifics when it comes to expansion of his movie theatre business as he didn’t want to reveal information to his competitors.
“Any city 75,000 and up could have a theatre,” he said. “We’re just going to bring the latest technology to markets that haven’t seen any upgrades since the 80’s or the 90’s. That’s one of the big differentiations. The other thing is we are more entertainment driven than we are food driven. Our competitors are very big in having 101 concession counters. It’s almost like going into the food court of a mall sometimes.“
“We instead believe more in the conventional theatre foods. We did spread out a little bit to pizza. We did spread out to other things but not that much. But where we have a big, big distinction is while they consider an arcade area to be five, six machines, 10 machines in a corridor, we actually have 5,000 to 10,000 square feet of arcade space in our theatres so families can go into these arcades.”
Guzzo’s father opened the first cinema in 1974 in the east end of Montreal and in 1976 he expanded it to a three-screen multiplex. Vince Guzzo grew up in the movie theatre business with jobs as an usher, selling candy, a cashier and a projectionist. He officially took over management of a theatre in 1991.
Guzzo’s Giulietta Pizzérias establishments are all strategically located adjacent to his theatres.
“My movie theatres are gearing up for a bustling holiday season and I’m looking for ways to increase the number of satisfied moviegoers across Canada. Tapping into new markets and leveraging underserved customer bases will do wonders for my businesses in the long run, while also giving Canadians greater access to entertainment,” he said.
Guzzo points out that despite the introduction of Netflix and other streaming services the experience of seeing a show at a cinema is actually booming in North America with 2017 box office revenues reaching US$11.1 billion, which is up from the US$8.1 billion recorded in 2001, according to Statista.
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.