Finally a breakthrough in the Great White North: Theaters in Ontario, which reps as much as 40% of Canada’s box office, are allowed to reopen on July 16 after several months of Covid lockdown, and just in time for the second weekend of Disney’s Black Widow. That includes Canada’s No. 1 chain, Cineplex, of course, in the province. Next Friday, Cineplex will reopen as many of its 68 theatres and five entertainment venues across Ontario as possible. All in, Canada typically reps 6%-10% of the domestic box office in a given weekend, pre-pandemic.
Ontario theatres will open with enhanced safety and cleaning measures and a 50% capacity to a maximum of 1,000 guests per building, in accordance with the details of Stage 3 of the Roadmap to Reopen Ontario as announced today by the province. Cineplex’s entertainment venues – including its locations of The Rec Room and Playdium – will also reopen with physical distancing to a maximum of 1,000 guests per building indoors and 75% outdoors on patios, while strictly adhering to local guidelines as set by public health authorities.
“Our team has been waiting for this day and are thrilled that next week we will finally be able to reopen our doors in Ontario,” said Ellis Jacob, President and CEO, Cineplex in a statement. “We can now enjoy movies the way that they’re meant to be seen, with Cineplex providing the escape of the big screen and big sound that we have all been missing for so long.”
Watch on Deadline
Cineplex will be playing all the summer releases to date, some of them, such as the Warner Bros. titles, are already on PVOD in the region, i.e. Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It.
The irony in all of this is that Canada was in a good spot close to a year ago with Covid, with cases declining and cinemas reopening for Warner Bros.’ Tenet which hit the country first before the U.S. Hopefully there isn’t another shutdown. The long-awaited reopening of Ontario is a plus for the Toronto Film Festival which is scheduled for Sept. 9-18. Word is the fest will be another hybrid edition like last year between live events for Canadians and virtual for those who can’t cross the border in the U.S.
Cineplex operates a network of 161 theatres and 12 entertainment venues across Canada, all of which have reopened, with the exception of those in Manitoba. Cineplex also looks forward to the Grand Opening of The Rec Room at Park Place in Barrie on July 26.
To date, 80% of the 5,88K movie theaters in the U.S. and Canada are open. Most of Canada’s northern most provinces have cinemas reopened at 100% with Quebec at 94%, British Columbia and Alberta at 81%, Saskatchewan at 75%, and Manitoba at 9%.