The newly renovated independent cinema, Paradise Theatre, claims Cineplex is shutting them out of the market for top films like Oscar winner Parasite, and others.
In a recent post on its website, the theatre says it believes Cineplex’s “anti-competitive practices” are blocking independent theatres from showcasing certain films.
“We are an independent small business and we need to ride those coattails when they’re popular,” Jessica Smith, Paradise Theatre’s Director of Programming, told Daily Hive. “We still can’t show Parasite, which has been out for four months. That money is dried up.”
According to Paradise, from their experience, if movies are showing at Cineplex Cinemas Varsity and VIP, on Bloor and Bay Street, they cannot show the same movies.
“Varsity is a multiplex with nine screens. As an independent single-screen cinema with 208 seats, we don’t believe we pose a competitive threat,” wrote the theatre in its post.
Spokesperson for Cineplex, Sarah Van Lange, said that Cineplex does not own the rights to the movies and that Cineplex licenses the films from Canadian distributors to play in their theatres.
“It is up to film distributors to decide where they play their films,” Lange said.
Smith admits they have not spoken to Cineplex in person about the issue.
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But Paradise is not the only theatre to complain as independent cinemas coast-to-coast are reporting the same inability to show new movies.
According to Smith and other independent theatres across Canada, if a distributor tries to book a film with an indie theatre anywhere near a Cineplex location, Cineplex threatens to pull all of their screenings of that particular film in the area.
Smith said it is Paradise’s understanding that distributors grant exclusivity to Cineplex because of these threats.
In Vancouver, the city’s popular Rio Theatre released a petition that currently has almost 10,000 signatures. “It’s incredibly heartwarming,” said Smith.
The petition states that with the pending new deal for the UK’s Cineworld to purchase Cineplex, which would make it “the largest cinema circuit in North America” the time for regulation seems urgent.
Echoing the Paradise Theatre in Toronto, the Rio shared a post last week stating “if you’re wondering why you don’t see Oscar winning films like Parasite and Jojo Rabbit at The Rio Theatre even after they’ve been playing at Cineplex for months? The answer is… because Cineplex has a monopoly on the market that has gone unchecked for years and it’s crushing indie theatres across Canada.”
Its petition states that independent theatres plan to file a complaint with the Competition Bureau of Canada.
“It’s time to grant independent theatres fair access for these films earlier,” Smith said.