Empire leaves movie theatre business with sale to Cineplex and Landmark

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In the wake of numerous changes in the Lower Mainland movie exhibition scene, Empire Company announced on June 27 that it is leaving the movie theatre business.

The Stellarton, Nova Scotia–based company will sell its Empire Theatres to Cineplex and Landmark Cinemas.

Cineplex will gain a foothold in Atlantic Canada when it purchases 24 theatres (with 170 screens), including 13 in Nova Scotia, six in New Brunswick, three in Newfoundland and Labrador, and two on Prince Edward Island), in addition to two theatres (with 48 screens) in Ontario for $200 million.

Landmark Cinemas will purchase 20 theatres (with 179 screens) in Ontario and Western Canada for $55 million. In British Columbia, Landmark will acquire Empire Studio 12 Guildford in Surrey, Esplanade 6 in North Vancouver, and Empire University Heights in Victoria.

In the Lower Mainland, Landmark opened the Landmark Cinemas 10 New Westminster in May 2012. The company also opened new theatres in Penticton and West Kelowna in the same year.

Empire will instead focus on the food and real estate sectors.

"The decision...aligns with the strategic direction of the Company to focus our resources on our food retail business through our 100 percent interest in Sobeys Inc. and on our related real estate investment through our 42.8 percent ownership interest in Crombie REIT," Paul D. Sobey, President and CEO of Empire Company Limited stated in a news release.

Empire announced on June 12 that Sobeys will buy all of Canada Safeway's assets for $5.8 billion, including 213 stores in Western Canada.

Empire closed Oakridge Cinemas in January 2012 and then the Empire Granville 7 Cinemas in November.

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