Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Canadian Theatres

I often end up complaining about the low number of theatres in my city along with the lack of quality films playing in them. I have seen 6 very good theatres (in terms of location and accessibility) shut down in the last decade. Even though Calgary has had three gigantic multiplexes opened in that time period, thereby ensuring more cinema screens, I feel the city could do with more theatres. I decided to do a quick look across this country to see if my complaints were justified in terms of quantity and quality.

Note: I am not counting the number of screens as there are some multiplexes with more than 10 screens. I am more interested in the number of the physical theatres themselves.


1) Calgary – The city has just over a million people (1042892) with 12 theatres. There are 7 multiplexes, 3 art house theatres which show quality films regularly (and form the core of CIFF) and 2 cheap theatres which show older Hollywood films.

So dividing the population by # of theatres, the number comes out to 86907, or one cinema for 86907 people.

2) Toronto -- The greater Toronto area has about 5.5 million people. So it accordingly has 54 cinemas. In a way, the population is 5 times that of Calgary so they have 5 times more theatres in the greater Toronto area.

Ratio: 101851 or one cinema for 101851 people.

3) Vancouver -- Greater Vancouver area has between 2-3 million people. It has 28 theatres. Using an estimate of 2.6 million:

Ratio: 92857

4) Saskatoon -- around 225,000 people. 5 cinemas.

Ratio: 45000

5) Edmonton -- Million. 10 cinemas.

Ratio: 100000

6) Winnipeg -- 625,000 people. 10 cinemas (including a standalone IMAX). Not counting an art house space which is used to screen Winnipeg Cinematheque films as that is not a dedicated venue.

Ratio: 62500

7) Ottawa -- 1.1 million people have 9 cinemas.

Ratio: 122,222

8) Montreal -- 3.6 million in greater Montreal area. 36 cinemas

Ratio: 100,000

9) Halifax -- 360,000 people with 4 cinemas.

Note: In Halifax there are only 2 multiplexes but they have 17 & 8 screens respectively.

Ratio: 90,000

10) Yellowknife -- around 16,000 people. 1 cinema hall, with 3 screens

Ratio: 16000

Unfortunately, it turns out my complaints about the few number of cinemas in Calgary can't put up a fight in terms of population numbers. If we take a ratio of cinemas per person across this country, then Calgary's ratio is not bad. Winnipeg is a true surprize in that has almost as many theatres as Calgary but with 400,000 less people than Calgary. That is quite amazing.

A flaw in this count is that I didn’t take into account the distance of the theatres across each city. That would indicate the cities where cinemas are more accessible to a majority of the population. A project for later on, I suppose.


There is where my complaints are rightly justified. A quick look showed that the multiplexes in almost all the cities are playing the exact same Hollywood films with no variety whatsoever. My belief that Toronto and Vancouver would show better films was incorrect as well. It is true that the Cinematheques in both cities and the VanCity theatre in Vancouver ensures there are some world class films that play there regularly but the multiplexes in these cities are bogged down by the same run of the mill stuff. And I believe only 3 cinemas in this country are showing the almost 4 hour long film Che, with 2 showing it in Montreal and one in Toronto. And currently that is the only film I want to see :)

1 comment:

Pacze Moj said...

Interesting study. I wonder how the numbers compare to other countries.

1 / 100,000 seems to be the rough ratio for Canadian cities.

How many people do you think fit into one multiplex at one time? How many of those 100,000 could see a film in one day?