Cineplex Entertainment Buys Tinseltown

I was a little bummed to read that Cineplex Entertainment, the country’s largest cinema operator, has purchased Cinemark Tinseltown, the 10-theatre multiplex in the long-suffering International Village mall on the edge of Gastown.

Because of their moderately-edgy programming and light crowds (at least for matinees), they’ve been a favourite theatre of mine for years. Tom Charity (clearly a reviewer in need of his own web presence), quoted in the aforementioned Globe and Mail article, echoes my concerns:

“I think [Tinseltown’s] booking has been really quite courageous and very diverse. … They’ve shown a much wider range of films than you see at the Scotiabank, for example. They’ve been open to showing Canadian films and even subtitled films and they’ve been very open to the community to renting the theatre out to local festivals. And that may or may not change. The proof will be in the pudding. But if we look at what happens at the Scotiabank, that type of thing doesn’t happen very much.”

Over the years, I’ve seen a number of Canadian and foreign films (as well as a lot of mainstream crud) at Tinseltown. It’s also been home to a number of film festivals, including the Vancouver Queer Film Festival.

The theatre has a special place in my heart because it’s the only one where, on two separate occasions, I was the only person in a cinema watching a movie (Boys Don’t Cry on Christmas eve, and a weekday matinee of the Irish film Intermission, in case you were wondering). I also stupidly almost got my man-purse stolen from one of their theatres, so there’s that.

Sadly, I expect that this acquisition will result in the mainstreaming of Tinseltown’s programming. That’d be too bad. I’ll drop Cineplex Entertainment a note asking them to keep the indie vibe in the movies they select.


  1. Are you also going to drop Tom Charity a note telling him the saying is actually “The proof of the pudding is in the taste”? (The pudding contains no proof.)

  2. I was a regular when T-town first opened and had seriously obscure films playing. It was, as you said, like having your own private screening room! I imagine they simply couldn’t get the rights to anything else. It was also as empty & cavernous as the mall its housed in. They also hosted the Asian Film Fest. That’s the way the world works, pudding notwithstanding.

  3. I lament losing it, but “hey, cool, I had the place all to myself” is a symptom of a failing business, of course. I miss Royal Centre, which had tiny theatres that presumably could support indie films, or used to 20 years ago. That leaves the Fifth Avenue and a few standalone cinemas now, I guess. Tinseltown got bought out because they weren’t making any money. I don’t expect the indie features or community support to stay.

    1. Indeed, that’s the case. I have fond memories of Royal Centre as well.

      I guess I’ll just have to open my own.

  4. Probably Cinemark can’t expand in Canada because Hollywood prefer Cineplex and Famous Players during the late 90’s. During the same time Cineplex and Famous Players expanded rapidly taking up prime retail space.

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