Despite cuts, movies are still big business

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By Natalie Alcoba

In spite of theatre closures across the country, AMC theatres which is scheduled to open a 24-screen megaplex at the corner of Yonge and Dundas Streets, is confident it will tap into the highly competitive movie theatre market.

Cineplex Odeon is closing theatres, and AMC reported losses of $29.1 million last year. But complexes filled with restaurants and stores are still popping up across North America, indicating the movie industry is thriving and riding high on a wave of flashier, in-your-face entertainment venues.

Loews Cineplex Entertainment Corp., which owns Cineplex Odeon Theatres, recently announced it was closing 25 theatres in Canada and 21 in the United States in an attempt to resist a hostile takeover bid by One Corp.

In spite of financial difficulty, Cineplex, which now operated 114 theatres in Canada, is building an 18-screen theatre at The Queensway and Islington Avenue, and a 10-screen complex in Mississauga.

A representative from Cineplex Odeon was unavailable for comment.

David Zitzerman, a partner with Goodmans LLP, a Toronto-based law firm that is working for Onex on the Cineplex takeover bid, says it’s the smaller theatres with smaller screens that are in danger.

He says the venues closing now aren’t equipped with the same amenities that are drawing people to the bigger complexes.

Richard King, a spokesperson for AMC, also says the new theatres popping up everywhere can’t be compared to the older ones that are dying out.

“The new theatres with their 16-plus screens, and plush seating, are extremely popular with movie theatre-goers,” he said. “People want bigger theatres, better sound, more comfortable seating.”

King said this glitzy blueprint has been successful for his company.

AMC’s venues have not been problem-free though. They’ve closed down theatres and scaled down existing projects such as Metropolis — Ryerson’s newest neighbour. But almost four years after it was announced, the entertainment complex seems to be coming together, with most of its major tenants confirmed.

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