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Call for movie theatre upgrades gaining traction

A public push for upgrades to the movie theatre in Grande Prairie is getting noticed. A Facebook group created to get the attention of Cineplex’s corporate team has grown to more than 4,600 members in a little over a week.

Grande Prairie resident Jamie MacGregor started the group titled “GP Needs A New Theatre”, wanting to do something about what he considers deteriorating conditions at the Cineplex Odeon Grande Prairie Cinemas. While complaints on the page range from prices to heating, MacGregor says the main concerns can be boiled down to three things.

“Pretty much the consensus here is everybody wants the theatre seating upgraded, the carpets pulled out to put new ones in, and maybe a change in the lobby… we could have a better flow where traffic is.”

Members of the group have been encouraged to write letters with their complaints to Cineplex, and the company tells My Grande Prairie they are being received and reviewed by the home office and with the local team. MacGregor says Cineplex has reached out to him personally, telling him the company’s Director of Alberta Operations Scott Whethem should be making a trip to the city within the next couple of weeks.

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“I really hope that it really opens up his eyes to the fact that these communities inconveniently out of the way of major cities need to be paid attention to. I’m sure Grande Prairie’s not the only city with a theatre that needs to be upgraded. I hope that they see the condition and understand we really dropped the ball on the overall theatre experience here.”

My Grande Prairie has contacted Cineplex to confirm details of the trip.

Also supporting the campaign have been local businesses. MacGregor says their group has reached out to all of the restaurants and shops in the area, looking to have them write letters to give to Cineplex. Some like Burger Heaven and GP Coffee Co. have already done so.

“If you have an upgraded theatre you’re going to be attracting more people to that theatre,” MacGregor notes. “You’re going to have more outside of town people coming in the area. Maybe they go to Costco, do their shopping, come see a movie… those local businesses that are surrounding the theatre will benefit from this and I think they understand that.”

Grande Prairie Mayor Bill Given has reportedly also been helping the group with statistics to do with population and spending in the city.

MacGregor maintains that the goal of his campaign isn’t to meant to be an attack on local staff. Instead, the idea is to start up a conversation with those in power to try to improve conditions. He and other admins of the group plan to meet with Whethem when he visits to pass on feedback.

The Odeon theatre has been the only commercial movie theatre in Grande Prairie since Landmark Cinema’s Jan Theatre shuttered in August 2014. The Lyric Theatre in the Prairie Mall closed 2012, which is when the Gaiety was torn down. The latter played its last film in 1991.

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