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Arts & Culture(Archives)


The Silver Screen Enters Golden Age

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The 2018 summer movie season is shaping-up as the silver screen’s new golden age in Fort McMurray arrives with a slate of highly anticipated sequels to blockbuster such as The Incredibles 2 and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom; with the debut of Landmark Cinemas 8 at Phase 1 of The Commons at Eagle Ridge.

According to a June 5, 2017, media release from builder/developer Centron Group, “The anchor tenant (of the 250,000-square-foot retail centre) is a 37,000-square-foot Landmark Cinema, providing moviegoers with the best experience the cinema world has to offer. Landmark’s newest concept features eight 25-foot tall screens and more than 900 premium powered recliner seats with extended footrests. All seating will be available on a complimentary reserved seating basis; ATOM Ticketing, the first-of-its-kind cinema mobile ticketing and concession purchase platform and app enabling guests to skip lineups at the box office and concession.”

It is also about bringing back the “Movie magic” for “Movie lovers” in Fort McMurray and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, said Landmark Cinema Chief Operating Officer Bill Walker in a telephone interview from the film exhibition company’s Calgary, Alberta corporate offices.

“We are building with consideration for the customer with the increased amount of personal space that will be offered,” continued Walker. “If we had built it the traditional way, we could have had 2,000 seats. Now when you walk into one of the theatres, instead of seeing 200 or 300 seats with shared armrests, you are going to see 110, fully-powered La-Z-Boy style recliners. This way, every seat in the house is a good seat. You have plenty of legroom and personal space. Comfortable seating, when spending two or more hours watching a movie, is critical.”

Walker does not believe the reduction in house capacity will have a major financial effect on the bottom line. “True we will lose about 58% of capacity but it was about finding a balance. We will be focused on a simple quality experience. There is no question we will sell out the 7 p.m. shows but we have learned that people would rather come the next day and have an enjoyable experience.”

Walker points out, the reduced seat count will lead guests to appreciate the added benefit of Landmark’s free reserved seating offering. “You will be able to purchase your tickets online in advance and pick where you want to sit, which will take the stress out of getting their early and rushing to find seats together.”

While movie-goers are in for a seismic shift in their in-theatre experience, according to Walker the concession food choices will basically remain the same. “It’s about the core concessions experience…popcorn, drinks, candy. We will expand what we have today to include pretzels and cookies and eventually a pizza program. But you will not see branded fast foods in the theatre.”

In regards to the status of the current Landmark Cinemas located on 10015 Manning Avenue, Walker said that it will probably be sold.

He had additional comments about its past and current state. “Our box office is nowhere near where it should be. Our current theatre is aged and outdated. Because we were trying the last few years to put a new theatre on the market, we did not give it the attention it deserved. It was about getting the land and making sure the timing was at the right moment.

“Yes we had some customers who were disengaged but we plan to give them a movie experience that is affordable so that they keep coming back. The city has been long overdue and we have underserviced the community for a long time. It’s time to bring back the movie magic for movie lovers.”

According to the Landmark Cinema website “Landmark Cinemas of Canada is the second largest motion picture theatre exhibition company in Canada. From a single screen in 1965 to today, we continue to provide the perfect setting for popcorn munching Movie Lovers to connect and share their love of movies at 43 theatres on 303 screens throughout Western Canada, Ontario and the Yukon Territory.


Curtis J. Phillips has been a sports journalist in print/electronic mediums since 1976. A strong advocate of volunteerism, he is a founding father of numerous local events and organizations including the Challenge Cup and Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. Phillips is also recognized internationally as a sports historian.