COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN
Ownership of the Capitol Theatre on 18th Street has officially changed hands, from Nova Scotia-based Empire Theatres to Calgary-based Landmark Cinemas.
Empire Theatres in Brandon has officially been taken over by Landmark Cinemas, though few changes will be seen as the first act of this year’s blockbuster season starts.
Signage, concession and the cast of employees remain unchanged since it’s risky business to make major transformations as the holiday season nears, according to Fran Holy, Landmark’s vice-president of marketing.
"We’re in peak moviegoing season," Holy said. "When you get into a blockbuster season, you don’t want to get in the way of a person wanting to go see their favourite movie."
Calgary-based Landmark Cinemas of Canada announced it had purchased 20 Empire Theatre locations in June, including the Brandon location at 1570 18th St.
Come January, the new owners will visit the theatre to discuss what major changes — if any — will occur at Brandon’s biggest movie house, which went through a renovation and expansion in 2004.
Over the course of 2014, Holy said there’s a laundry list of changes the company will have to address. For instance, Landmark didn’t offer Interac debit online whereas Empire did, so the new owner has to implement such a service.
With a brand change will come a new ticket buying loyalty program, something virtually all major movie theatre chains have.
And Holy expects some changes to the theatre’s biggest moneymaker — the concession stand — with a focus on popcorn, which Holy said is an integral part of the business.
"We have a secret formula, (Empire) has a secret formula, and what we think we need to do is blend the two of them a little bit," she said. "Popcorn in movie theatres is a critical piece."
The theatre was closed on Wednesday, as were several others across the country, for behind-the-scenes computer maintenence and reopened yesterday with no visible changes.
Nova Scotia-based Empire Co. Ltd. bowed out of the cinema business earlier this year after it sold its 46 theatre locations to Landmark and Cineplex Entertainment, the country’s biggest theatre chain.
Landmark paid an estimated $55 million for 20 locations in Western Canada and Ontario.
When the company announced it was selling the assets, Empire told media it will focus on its grocery business as Sobeys Inc. (of which Empire owns a controlling stake) purchased U.S.-based Safeway Inc. earlier this year.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition November 1, 2013