Death of the Cinemas – How One Mall Destroyed a Local Landmark

Reviews / Canada

godzilla.jpgWhen I was growing up in St. Catharines we had not one, not two, but four movie theaters to pick from. An awful lot for a city our size, but we made good use of them. As time passed and small theaters gave way to 8 screen multiplexes, that original number eventually shrunk down to two. But still, they were our two. We had a Famous Players Silvercity in the south end of town (now an Empire Cinemas) and a Cineplex Odeon in the north. Both theaters were the anchors of our local malls, the Pen Centre and the Fairview Mall respectively. Even though I didn’t grow up with these fancy new moviehouses, I still have fond memories. Heck – I even worked at the Pen’s Silvercity all through high school. Like many in my community we felt these movie theaters were a part of our lives, even if we didn’t go as much as we should have.

As time marched on and DVD’s and HDTV’s starting bringing a better than cinemas experience to our own living rooms, home movie viewing really began to chip away at the movie theater industry. Had that been the cause of a theater’s closure — that we’d simply not been going enough, that they couldn’t afford to operate — then we’d have nobody to blame but ourselves for what happened last month in the north end of town. Unfortunately that’s not the way things happened.

In early January, the Cineplex Odeon at the St. Catharines Fairview Mall closed its doors for good — not because it wasn’t profitable, but because the company that owns the mall decided to exercise the “best use” clause in the theater’s lease, kicking them out with less than a months notice. You might be wondering why they’d do that. Well it turns out it wasn’t drugs or violence or loitering teens or any other number of reasons that one could justifiably understand. It was so they could make room to bring a Winners/HomeSense to the mall. They tried to justify it as best they could, saying that theaters just don’t bring people to a mall like they used to and that a big box store could change that. Considering the mall is already home to Future Shop, Chapters, and Zehrs, I tend to think that the Fairview is a little big boxed out.

I understand that time marches on and things change, but kicking out a cultural landmark in favor of another big box store is just downright insensitive. It goes to show that managing a mall in St. Catharines from an office in Toronto leaves you completely out of touch with the feelings of the community that you’re supposed to be marketing to. It’s bad business. I can’t speak for the whole community, but I can tell you this much – I won’t be shopping at the Fairview again any time soon.

12 responses to “Death of the Cinemas – How One Mall Destroyed a Local Landmark”

  1. frugiedh says:

    I am surprised as I would have thought a theatre in a mall WOULD bring alot more people to it. I can’t tell you how many times I have wished that our local theatre was at our mall. That is sad for the town. Now there will also be less for the teenagers in that part of the town to do. 🙁

  2. Mr. M says:

    I’m disappointed to hear that, I hope Cineplex or Empire would replace that theatre nearby if possible.

  3. Sid32 says:

    Maybe a Rainbow? Cheap and better selection of movies then the Galaxy in Peterborough. 11 screen sometimes only 3-4 movies playing.

  4. Ferfer says:

    I live in St.Catharines and I cannot believe that they are choosing another Winners over our Theater. Just goes to show you what money does to people. Anyone remember the Right house??? Fairview mall has come along way since then yet the landlord still isn’t happy 🙁

  5. Kelly L says:

    Boy, do I miss those good old Fairview-movie days..My friends and I were total mall rats when it came to the Fairview. Unable to drive, we walked there through snow and burning heat and after they got rid of the movie theater, none of us really went there anymore. On top of losing the theater, we lost the arcade too! Which was really great for huge social gatherings…I met a lot of new people there. People I’m still friends with today and people I never saw again. Losing that theater was like finding out my favorite teacher wasn’t teaching at my school anymore. A real kick in the face but I was helpless to do anything. It’s sad that it’s gone, but at least I still have the memories.


  6. Joel P says:

    I remember that theater… I lived a 10-15 minute walk away and me and my friends would always get together because it was close and easy for everyone to get to. Now that they closed it down (got in the paper for it so that was cool) the movies are way more expensive at the Empire Theatre at the Pen (At least 2 – 3 dollars!) no one seems to go anymore… the closing of that theatre really closed off how often we go out now… and for that winners I hated the store already and I now plan to never step foot in any Winners ever again

  7. tattoodprincess says:

    That is the worst excuse I have ever heard! We have one theatre here in the Falls, and its in the same parking lot as the Niagara Square Mall. If not for that theatre the mall would have NO PATRONS whatsoever! I used to work in that mall and the only times we saw a fair flow of traffic was opening weekends, $4.20 Tuesdays and Friday nights. Cinemas are the only thing that brings money to a lot of small town malls. The town I grew up in had one theatre too and after a LOT of stores left that mall, it was the only thing bringing people into the mall. It also had a bulk barn across from it so a LOT of smuggled snacks got in lolz St. Catharines is a fair size city and to only have one option to see a movie is ridiculous. Especially since I’m pretty sure one is more expensive than the other. They should be ashamed of themselves. Especially feeling that this area needs yet ANOTHER Winners. It’s not even that great of a store in my opinion. Too overpriced for claiming to be “discount”.

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  10. Kelly says:

    THIS THEATRE ROCKED!!!! F THE FAIRVIEW MALL FOR KICKIN THEM OUT!! i miss this place every day :'(

  11. Keneth Johal says:

    Awesome, keep up the great posts

  12. Harry Susko says:

    Nice post . keep up the good work It’s the strangest thing wherever you see – industries in recession are trying to get more customers by paring their prices – take your pick – hotel rates, airplanes and cruises – everyone is open to negotiating for discounts.


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