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I’m sooo thirsty, Cineplex



July 8th, 2015


Anyone who has ever met me knows how much I love movie theatres. Often, it’s more about being at the cinema for two hours then it is about whatever I’m seeing.

Yet, I’m starting to get so turned off to the experience. I’m their core audience, and yet I’m being completely alienated.

This alienation has been going on for about two years now, in hindsight. I started to notice it in early June when I ordered a large drink at Eau Claire in Calgary, but received a medium.

“No, that’s our large size now,” the concessionist told me, “and we just stopped doing refills.”

Probably has something to do with the their absorption of Famous Players (the gold standard). Today, Cineplex controls roughly 77% of the movie screens in Canada.

The news about Cineplex shrinking all their drink cups, but leaving the price the same, kind of blew up today in the media.

The 44oz. large size is being replaced with 32oz., the previous medium size. That’s a nearly 25% reduction.

Yes, I want the 44oz. size because I’m in the building for over two hours eating salty popcorn (which has gotten much saltier as of late).

That’s not my only beef- it’s a whole different story once you reach your auditorium.

Have you noticed the lights just flick off at showtime now? All the light bulbs have recently been replaced with LED bulbs and it just so happens those bulbs don’t dim.

Often, these lights don’t even rise for the credits, and if they do turn on in time, you go from total darkness to light.

Gone are the beautiful curtains. We haven’t seen those since Famous Players slapped up all the SilverCity theatres in the late 90′s.

I still remember how awesome it was for the picture to hit the sparkly curtain as the lights faded, for it to open and reveal the massive screen.

Yeah, I get it. Cineplex wants to show ads. Got to achieve that quarter-over-quarter growth no matter what it takes.

It’s still a lack of showmanship. Their job is to put on a show, not turn the TV on and flick the lights off while we play unsupervised.

Which brings me to another point: theatres have abandoned something called “masking.”

That wall of black surrounding the screen- well, it moves. It changes the shape of the screen to be more square shaped (“flat”), or super wide screen (“CinemaScope”).


The only problem is Cineplex doesn’t use it anymore. They leave the masking open and project the picture with black bars.

Basically, it looks like the 52″ TV in your living room, and it looks even more jarring with 3D movies.

Ask anyone who was a projectionist (the job has largely been replaced with button-clicking managers) and they’ll tell you it’s a cardinal sin to ever show a naked (blank) screen.

I guess the maintenance on motors is too much expense.

Now, let’s talk about these “premium” experiences. Most chains have their own brand: Landmark Cinemas Xtreme Theatre and Cineplex UltraAVX.

They promise an even bigger screen, and the latest evolution of Dolby surround sound. With an up-charge, of course.

It’s nice that with the move to digital over film projection, we can push beyond a screen width of 60′ more easily, but it’s hardly worthy of being a “premium up-charge.”

This should be the latest evolution in the moviegoing experience, just like cupholders, stadium seating, 70MM projection, or the original digital sound: sometimes your movie is playing in the big house, sometimes it’s playing on the 30′ screen with 160 seats.

Don’t even get me started about the multiplex IMAX theatres, which have screens a fraction of the size of a true IMAX screen. They’ve rightfully earned the nickname¬† “LieMAX.”

Then as I touched on above, the ads. I know everyone likes to bitch about the ads, but seriously make it part of the Cineplex preshow.

There’s nothing separating the preshow with the feature. The lights flick off, they keep showing 30-second spots and you can’t even really tell that the show has started or what the difference is.

No excitement for showtime, no attention to detail, definitely not an experience.

I’m thirsty not just for the drink size I’ve been buying from you (or Famous Players) for nearly two decades, Cineplex, I’m thirsty for the moviegoing experience.

The business has changed dramatically, but the business model is the only thing that hasn’t.

I won’t be buying a drink when I go to the movies now- it’s just not going to happen.

Stop being so cheap Cineplex. You’re not going to lose me, but it’s not a very pleasant relationship we have together these days.

If you alienate the masses, they’ll just vote by not returning. Once they walk out those doors pissed off, it’s nearly impossible to get them back. Just ask Target.

READERS: What are your memories of going to the cinema, and how does the “experience” compare today?

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