Multiplex cinema in Burlington closes

opinion
February 28, 2013
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

Rob Hardy / Silhouette Staff

Last December saw the demise of a much beloved institution for many in Burlington and the surrounding area: the closing of the multiplex cinema at Upper Canada Place. The cinema first opened in 1985, run by Cineplex Odeon. As changes in the industry occurred, it was taken over by Encore Cinemas in 1999. For those of you who have never had the pleasure, let me say a bit about what made the movie-going experience there so great.

First of all, the site was located in the heart of beautiful downtown Burlington. Personally, I absolutely loved the layout of this multiplex. It was comfortable and cozy, with a wonderful atmosphere, friendly people and amazingly clean restrooms. The first film I saw there was the Oscar-winner Dead Man Walking. With eight screens, it was big enough to find something to suit your taste and had frequent show times. For those of you from the area, many of whom felt the same, you know what I mean and may be disheartened to hear this news if you weren’t already aware.

The loss has many implications. For one, the ticket prices, as well as concessions, would have knocked some on their backside if they arrived there unprepared for how economical a night at the movies could still be. It was also a wonderful venue for family movie days, especially those who couldn’t afford being fleeced by the consumer mausoleums that now charge nearly fifty bucks for two tickets and “value” combos. Furthermore, it was a great alternative to those who like a quieter atmosphere and didn’t mind seeing films that were a month behind their release date. (I mean, who cares?)

The reason it closed is that the film industry is now moving away from projectors and switching to digital formats, an upgrade that wasn’t financially viable for the theatre. Although that’s understandable, no time was wasted in making plans to gut the place. Even though many people now have home theatres, the appeal of going to the movies has always been so much more than the film itself. It is the actual “going out” part and being in a social setting that makes for a swell night. Knowing that rents have to be paid and foreseeing dwindling prospects, the decision was made to close up shop.

So where does that leave us? Well, despite population increases, we have seen a drastic decline in the number of area movie theatres. Famous Players in Stoney Creek closed down its Fiesta Mall location in 2001, saying it was looking for new opportunities. The replacement that was eventually built years later was not the sort to offer bargain ticket prices, and was snugly set in a shopping consortium that hopes to snag even more of your consumer dollars. It is also many miles away from the previous site – too big of a challenge for those without transportation to get to.

Since then, the location at Upper James has closed as well, along with the cinemas at Centre Mall and Limeridge Mall, Burlington’s Harvester location and the older movie house on Concession Street.

What we are left with, aside from the trio of bigger area Silver City buildings all cajoling for our business is Jackson Square and the single-screen Westdale option. There are times when it’s nice to sit in newer auditorium-style seating, but we also like having choices. And considering the Hamilton/Burlington area has nearly three-quarters of a million people, there are surprisingly almost none now other than the cookie-cutter chains that have helped create this scarcity.

And since going to the movies is no longer old school or authentic, you’re then bound to have the same routine of eye-popping prices, ear-popping speakers and less of an intimate experience every time you go. Maybe that’s why I not only haven’t been to the movies in over a year, but find myself less interested in them period.

Because after all, many movies are now also produced to cater to the movie-going environments being promoted these days, thereby alienating those of us whose idea of a night out isn’t putting on glasses and feeling like we are in a video game.

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