When Canada said goodbye to AMC Theatres over the summer, it put the fate of the Kennedy Commons theatre in jeopardy.
A few weeks ago, the theatre closed indefinitely. This venue was a community staple since 1998, but it could not pique the interest of a buyer to keep it afloat.
Pat Marshall, vice-president of communications and investor relations for Cineplex explained that the AMC closure was a result of a change of priorities.
“AMC had put their theatres in Canada up for sale as part of a divestiture process where they were trying to reallocate their focus and work on their core assets which was their U.S. exhibition company,” Marshall said. “They were selling theatres in a number of countries across the world.”
The AMC Theatre company was sold and bought by Dalian Wanda Group, a conglomerate company from China that specializes in real estate and entertainment. This purchase was recorded as the second-largest Chinese takeover of an American company raking in $2.6 billion according to Bloomberg News.
“After that transaction AMC decided to close the Kennedy Commons theatre,” Marshall said.
Ryan Noonan, director of public relations for AMC, says that the United States is now very much the focus.
“We still operate more than 330 theatres in the United States,” Noonan said.
The remaining theatres in Ontario, aside from Kennedy Commons and the Interchange theatre in Concord, Ont., were picked up by Cineplex Odeon and Empire Theatres. Cineplex took in four while Empire took in two. Marshall says that the Kennedy Commons location was not the piece to fit the rest of the Cineplex Odeon puzzle.
“We knew that we could only purchase a certain number of the theatres,” Marshall said. “We looked at the theatres that worked best with our existing theatre locations so that we optimize the traffic flow between our existing theatres and the potential new theatres.”
While Noonan could not comment on the fate of the theatre employees at Kennedy Commons, Marshall said that Cineplex had plans for the other AMC employees.
“At the four theatres that Cineplex acquired we offered employment to all the employees and they’re now Cineplex employees…about 250 people,” Marshall said.
The Kennedy Commons theatre will remain closed until it is bought from its current landlord, First Gulf Corporation.
Jonathan Weinberg, vice-president retail at First Gulf says there are plans to repurpose the building.
“We are currently in discussions with several big box and large service users for the property,” Weinberg said. “We are hoping by next fall or winter to open the building with brand new tenants.”