Cineplex plans to serve drinks in more theatres

A spokesman for Toronto’s Cineplex has defended the company’s decision to serve alcohol in more of its movie theatres.

Cineplex plans to add three new locations where patrons can buy alcoholic drinks. One location will be a standalone theatre at Shops at Don Mills. Another will be built on the Queensway by 2013. And one will be built at Yonge and Eglinton by 2014. One already exists at the Varisty Theatre.

Pat Marshall is the vice-president in charge of communications at Cineplex. Marshall said Cineplex had to follow the same rules and processes that any business has to follow to obtain a licence to serve alcohol.

“We’re just like a restaurant or lounge in that sense,” Marshall said. “All of our serving staff has to … receive Smart Serve training.”

Marshall added that Cineplex staff will only serve two drinks to a patron prior to the start of the movie. Once the lights are out and the movie has started, no one will be served alcohol.

“Our main business is the movie experience and providing an experience of escapism,” Marshall said.

Despite its strong stance against drinking and driving, Mothers Against Drunk Driving doesn’t appear concerned about safety issues of serving alcohol in the theatre environment. Carolyn Swinson is a past-president and chair for MADD.

“Because of the fact the areas are age-restricted,” she said, “they have to follow the guidelines; the servers have to be trained and they can’t over serve; we haven’t seen any problems.”

According to Swinson, four people in Canada die each day from impaired driving and 170 are injured.

“You’re three times more likely to be killed from an impaired driver than be murdered,” Swinson said. “(The) message is always the same. If you’re going to drink you need to be responsible.”