What Happened To Modern Day Moviegoing, Cineplex?

WINNIPEG, MB. — When I went to the movies with friends, I always had one general rule: we needed to be seated before the lights dimmed.

This is only a rule when I go to Landmark Cinemas now, because Cineplex doesn’t dim the lights anymore.

It’s really an indication of something I’m seeing at Canada’s largest movie chain whether I’m catching a flick here in Winnipeg or Calgary when I’m visiting family.

There is a shocking lack of presentation standards since the company absorbed the great Famous Players chain.

We’re talking about a company that was born in a parking garage in 1979, featuring 18 tiny rooms with screens the size of a 52″ television, gobbling up a major competitor with a 90-year history born out of movie palaces.

That’s where the problem stems: Cineplex, at its core, has always been a big-box retailer designed only to maximize profits.

I ran the 35mm film projection booth at Polo Park for nearly three years and was Assistant Manager at the Odeon Drive-In.

There was a team of Famous Players vets running both as the companies merged and the on-screen presentation was always a priority.

So I wonder today why I sit in a room being blasted with ads, the lights flick off uneventfully and there’s no curtain hiding the giant screen, and then the same standard definition ads keep playing for 10-minutes?

This kicks off the show. Then we get some ads for superhero movies, and finally the movie.

I loved the character of film but I can’t deny the picture feels brighter and sharper on digital.

Today, if the power is on upstairs, the entire projection booth will run itself without intervention.

There are no projectionists: you’re on 100 per cent auto pilot. The automation should be taking care of everything.

Yet, at Westhills in Calgary, I caught the first show of the day for both Baby Driver and Atomic Blonde, and the house lights weren’t even on.

The entire room was pitch black with ads playing and a bunch of people were already seated.

Those ads would stop, half the house lights would turn on, and the ads would continue.

At the former, an usher came in to put a theatre checksheet at the front of the room but the issue was never noted or corrected.

When the credits roll, the lights turn on full blast. It’s jarring.

Why is nobody checking this at Canada’s largest chain or why is this a company-wide policy?

Isn’t the whole business about your presentation?

Show me ads, I don’t care, but have some standards like Landmark.

It shouldn’t be a big deal that a theatre still dims their lights.

—Andrew McCrea, MyToba Movies

Photo – File

Andrew McCrea is a hard news junkie with a passion for crime reporting. He studied business, media production, and journalism at Red River College earning two diplomas. McCrea also loves cinema, creative writing, and programming websites and software.
Related Posts


  • Vic says:

    It’s not just the lights and the movie presentation that has gone to crap. Look at the carpet in the hall outside the theatres, massive strips of duct tape covering tears and then there’s the smelly bathrooms. They have no pride in their operation.

  • Alan says:

    Unfortunately , it is all about the Money . Famous Players gets away with saying the renamed Silver City theatres – are showing Imax presentations . They Are Not . at best – they are mini max presentation’s with digital cinema. The poorly calibrated sound is set to blast mode .

    Yet IMAX corp lowered standards allow this

    Personally have Grant Park theatre with their Extra presentation is decent

    The VIP MCGILLIVARY cinema is joke as it is about better seating and in service food and drink

Leave a Reply values your opinion. All comments are held for moderation. You must verify your email by clicking a link we send you before your comment will be published.