Cineplex Announces Significant Entertainment Centres Expansion

By Mario Toneguzzi

Cineplex, one of Canada’s leading entertainment and media companies, is launching a theatre concept expansion in the country and will continue to add to its national footprint including the potential of moving into vacant shopping mall space.

Sarah Van Lange, director of communications of Cineplex, said diversification is one of the company’s key strategies in building growth across the country.

“We’re starting to look at our real estate portfolio and we’ll assess whether we need to look at new locations but as our leases come up as well we’ll be looking at the demographics of the community,” she said, adding that the company would then determine what concept best suits a particular community’s needs.

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Cineplex, which has 164 theatres in Canada, has diversified its portfolio in recent years to include concepts such as The Rec Room, Playdium and Topgolf.

“The retail landscape is changing. Absolutely. The anchor tenants like department stores, and particular fashion outlets, many from a real estate perspective or from a retail perspective they’ve had some more challenging times. So landlords, we’re finding, are looking for ways to increase dwell times in their complexes and they’re turning a lot to look at food options as well as entertainment options,” says Van Lange.

“I think they’re looking for ways to get guests to stay longer. Entertainment is definitely one of the ways that they’re doing that. On the Cineplex side, we’re finding that Canadians are also looking for more options in that way as well . . . People are looking for a place to congregate and there’s definitely a business opportunity through that.”

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Cineplex is opening a new Playdium location in Brampton, Ontario. Converting and reimagining the space currently being utilized by Cineplex Odeon Orion Gate Cinemas, the 45,000-square-foot entertainment complex will be specially designed for teens, their friends and family who are looking for an affordable entertainment choice for everyday play, casual dining or to celebrate special occasions.

Playdium is a tech-infused place to play that offers the best games and attractions for everyone.  The new Brampton location will feature a selection of classic and new-to-market video and redemption games, as well as unique interactive experiences like virtual reality, bowling, rope courses and laser tag.  Young movie-lovers in the area will also be able to look forward to watching films at Playdium, as Cineplex plans to retain one of the existing auditoriums from Cineplex Odeon Orion Gate Cinemas at the new space.

Van Lange said the company will open 10 to 15 Playdium locations in the coming years.

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The Rec Room concept is a large entertainment destination.

“They’re social playgrounds for adults,” said Van Lange. “The locations of The Rec Room really leverage the expertise that we’ve built through Cineplex in things like food service, operations. Entertaining people is what we do best at Cineplex and that skill is really transferred over to The Rec Room.”

Currently, there are four Rec Room locations - one in South Edmonton, one in West Edmonton Mall, one in Deerfoot City in Calgary and one in downtown Toronto. Another location is opening at the end of April in London. It has also announced plans for complexes in Mississauga, Vancouver and St. John’s.  

“We’ll be opening 10 to 15 over the coming years,” said Van Lange.

The Rec Room is typically between 35,000 to 60,000 square feet and half of that space is dedicated to live entertainment and food with the other half dedicated to gaming and fun. It’s targeted to a Millennial audience as well as Boomers with children.

Cineplex has also entered into an exclusive partnership with global sports entertainment leader Topgolf which will bring Topgolf’s sports entertainment experience to Canada. The joint venture will see the opening of multiple Topgolf venues in markets across the country during the next several years.

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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: mdtoneguzzi@gmail.com

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