I guess we're very picky with our corporate names.
Actually, I think I'd rather see a Canadian company get naming rights.
Paramount is recognized in entertainment...it would also be a fitting name even if it wasn't due to corporate sponsorship, kind of like the Four Seasons Centre. I think that's why people are looking past it.
Paramount is one of the oldest theatre chain names. It's a bit different from Scotiabank. This re-naming doesn't really bother me, since the Paramount is hardly a major part of Toronto's geography. I just think it's a bit of a strange marketing avenue since it seems unlikely that people will call the theatre "The Scotiabank."
Cineplex's success with high-definition, pay-per-view National Hockey League games and the recently introduced direct-from-satellite live performances from Lincoln Center of the New York's Metropolitan Opera has convinced the company to look into putting on more special events.
Professional wrestling, World Cup soccer, speakers' series and big-screen video-game competitions have already appeared at Cineplex theatres, along with pay-per-view concerts by David Bowie and Bon Jovi.
What's next? Possibly Broadway shows.
"I would love to see Broadway productions on screen, and I think our audiences would as well," said Pat Marshall, vice-president of communications and investor relations for Cineplex, Canada's largest cinema chain.
The company is planning to meet with Broadway producers later this year.
"It's absolutely in our strategic plan," Marshall said.
Meanwhile, Cineplex is already expanding the number of theatres from 28 to 34 across Canada offering opera simulcasts and encore presentations from the Met.
The six additional cinemas are in Montreal; Mississauga; Newmarket, Ont.; Peterborough, Ont.; Ottawa and Nanaimo, B.C., and the next scheduled performance is a repeat screening of Bellini's I Puritani on Feb. 10. Also on the schedule is the live simulcast of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin on Feb. 24, a repeat showing of Tan Dun's The First Emperor on March 10 and the live simulcasts of Rossini's The Barber of Seville March 24 and Puccini's Il Trittico on April 28. There has already been a "tremendous amount" of advance tickets sold for the last live simulcasts, Cineplex said.
Canada is one of a number of countries showing the high-definition Met performances in movie theatres. Cineplex's original plan was to screen the operas in only 12 major movie markets across Canada. But by the time the curtain rose on the first simulcast of Mozart's Magic Flute on Dec. 30, a number of smaller cities had been added, from Coquitlam, B.C., to Ste-Foy, Que.
Because Cineplex is a publicly traded company and hasn't released its quarterly financials yet, Marshall could only say that the Magic Flute simulcast sold out in 12 theatres (Victoria was the first community to sell out) "and our numbers only grew from there."
Cineplex has also been in contact with the Canadian Opera Company, and "we are certainly open to looking at a number of new opportunities along this genre," Marshall said.
"We have never experienced a situation like this in the past, whereby our guests [that is to say, theatregoers] are phoning my office, e-mailing my office, contacting our customer-service group and are walking up to our theatre managers in the volumes that they are" to find out about the simulcasts, she added. "The opera is a tremendous example of the strength of word-of-mouth advertising."
About 90 per cent of Cineplex theatres in Canada have digital projectors to play pay-per-view events, Marshall said. These, however, aren't the leading-edge projectors needed to show digital Hollywood movies. Cinema chains are still some way from a complete digital conversion, particularly since the chains are looking for Hollywood studios to foot the bills for those projectors. "So it's a $10,000 unit versus a $100,000 unit, which is what would be required to replace 35-millimetre film," Marshall said.
Still, with so many theatres already refitted with digital projectors of the quality used for the operas, Cineplex plans another season of Met simulcasts, with possibly more than the six shown this year.