Lansdowne Theatre uncertainty Delays decision to keep World Exchange cinema

The uncertainty about Lansdowne Park’s planned new movie theatre is one reason why the World Exchange Plaza hasn’t signed a new operator for its cinema.

The World Exchange’s owner, the British Columbia Investment Management Corp., and its real estate company Bentall Kennedy (Gray’s employer) want the option to convert the multiplex inside the World Exchange into office space. This change would be expensive and difficult. Window less theatres with sloped floors aren’t easy to convert.

Three theatre chains have expressed interest about taking over the World Exchange cinema when the Empire Theatres lease expires at the end of the year. Empire is getting out of the movie house business; it has sold most of its screens and is walking away from the rest, including the one at the World Exchange.

The issue is that the movie distributors won’t give the same movies to theatres within five kilometres of each other. The World Exchange and the now-closed cinema at the Rideau Centre managed the problem by catering to different audiences.

The Rideau Centre’s theatre is now closed and everyone is waiting to see what happens with the theatre at Lansdowne. It is under construction, an integral part of the city’s agreement with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group to redevelop the Glebe fairground. It’s also another Empire property whose future is unclear and it’s only 2½ kilometres from the World Exchange Plaza.


Negotiations are continuing over the Lansdowne theatre. The agreement between OSEG and Empire is expected to have a cinema at Lansdowne, meant to be a high-end operation with luxurious seats, good food and a liquor licence, but neither has said just how. A cinema operator there could also take over the World Exchange theatres, co-operate with it, or compete with it. If there’s no Lansdowne theatre, running the World Exchange cinema would be a lot more attractive!

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