Thursday, June 16, 2005

At least there'll still be Free Parking

According to a number of reports (including CBC and The Globe & Mail), Cineplex Galaxy, the second-biggest movie theatre company in Canada, has purchased Famous Players, the biggest movie theatre company in Canada, for $500 million. This would give Cineplex Galaxy 71% of all movie theatres in Canada, so the'll have to sell off 35 theatres in order to satisfy federal monopoly rules, leaving them with only 132 theatres, or just over 60%. (That means that there are only 216 movie theatres in all of Canada, which was kind of surprising to me.)

It's good that we have a government body that regulates competion, and I doubt very much that this takeover will lead to an increase in ticket prices, when you consider the fact that recently ticket prices have gone down in both companies in order to bring back the consumers. The thing that does bother me is that this could lead to a lack of diversity. What happens when the guys that are in charge at Cineplex Galaxy decide not to carry a certain film, for whatever reason they see fit?

Edmonton has only 9 first-run theatres, and two of them - the fantastic Princess and Garneau - typically only bring in the more 'indie' films that the bigger chains don't. Which leaves 7 first-run theatres, all owned by Cineplex. So if they think that an independent or foreign movie won't make enough money, or if they think a movie is too gory and they don't want to carry it, then it's a good chance that I won't be able to see it until it hits the rental stores. Maybe I'm an insane person who thrives off the illusion of choice - and really, I don't have the disposable income to go see tons of movies anyhow - but I have a bad feeling about this, nonetheless.

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