Choose Independent Theatres Over Cineplex

What you can do to keep independent theatres in your community open

The Rio on Commercial and Broadway (file), Cineplex Odeon on Abbot and W Pender. (Flickr/ Mike)

Canadian independent theatres are fighting to keep their doors open, hanging on by a thread due to the rise of Canada’s number one corporate cinema chain: Cineplex.

The company owns a large portion of all Canadian theatres. Despite Cineplex being the popular choice for Canadian film watchers, the company allegedly has the power to shut down smaller independently-owned theatres, by blocking them from screening certain movies for months after their initial release. This gives citizens no choice but to view films they are eager to see at Cineplex theatres.

However, according to a recent announcement by the company, “Cineplex does not own the rights to movies.”

“We license them from Canadian distributors to play in our theatres. It is up to film distributors where they play their movies,” it reads.

Owner and operator of the independently-run Rio Theatre in East Vancouver, Corinne Lea, disagrees. She won’t back down and is putting up a fight.

Lea created a petition to stop Cineplex from dictating the rights to movies. She wants to get 25,000 signatures in support of change that allows all theatres, big or small, to equally screen recently released movies.

She explained that the Rio and other independent theatres have been waiting months to screen Parasite — awarded this year’s best picture — and will be waiting for screening rights until Cineplex is finished with the film. As a result, they lose out on all the potential sales they could be making during the early days of the film being out.

This should encourage residents to support local theatres within their communities. Small theatres belong to our communities, therefore, our communities should be supporting our small theatres. Choose to spend your money at independently-owned theatres instead of large businesses with monopolies over their industry.

Independent theatres I have visited have better popcorn, smaller lines, prettier interiors, and more affordable tickets. When purchasing your ticket, you know your money is actually going into the hands of someone who needs it.

As of last month, however, things started looking less promising for independent theatres. Cineworld, the U.K.’s number one cinema chain, signed a $2.8-billion contract to take over Cineplex. This new ownership will only benefit Cineplex, while other independent theatres throughout Canada will continue to operate without support or the ability to screen films when they’re still new and exciting to audiences.

Individuals who care about this issue should do their part by signing and sharing Lea’s petition online. Doing so will help prevent the pricing-out of independent theatres. Afterwards, educate yourself about which independent theatres are in your community and support them.

Independent theatres may not have D-Box seats and 3-D animation, but not all movies you watch in theatres need those unnecessary special effects. It’s a far better feeling to sit down in a small, intimate theatre, knowing you’re giving your money to a business in order to keep their doors open to the community.


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