New competition won’t spell end of Abbotsford’s first theatre

There are no planes to close Abbotsford Towne Cinema Centre

Despite rumours

Despite rumours

There are no plans to close Abbotsford’s first theatre, according to Neil Campbell, chief operating officer of Landmark Cinemas, owners of the Abbotsford Towne Cinema Centre.

Rumours of the theatre closing began several months ago after the announcement that a state-of-the-art 43,000-square-foot entertainment complex would open at Highstreet, a major new shopping complex at Mt. Lehman Road.

Cineplex is constructing an 11-screen theatre which will feature 1,950 seats, digital projection, RealD 3D technology, three VIP cinemas and one UltraAVX auditorium.

It is expected to open before the end of 2013.

Social media sites were soon buzzing with comments saying the new theatre would mean the demise of Towne Cinema.

It’s a rumour that Campbell has no problem quelling.

“Right now we have no anticipations of doing anything other than business as usual,” he said.

“That theatre does very good business and is very, very popular.”

He added that the pricing at the older Towne Cinema is “attractive.”

The local theatre opened 39 years ago when Don and Maxine Gibb decided to create the Towne Cinema Twin Theatre. Back then it consisted of only two screens, Cinema Red and Blue.

Many people thought the Gibbs were taking a huge gamble to create a theatre in the middle of nowhere (in the area of McCallum and King roads).

Mel Brooks’ famous comedy Blazing Saddles was the first film shown at the new theatre and skeptics were soon proved wrong.

Over the past four decades, the theatre expanded. In 1981, two more screens were added and in 1994 screens five, six and seven were constructed after a new Cineplex opened in the Clearbrook area.

But the expansion to seven screens and the 1996 addition of screens eight and nine helped Towne Cinema re-establish itself. The Cineplex eventually closed.

In 2014, Towne Cinema will celebrate its 40th anniversary in Abbotsford.

As for Landmark Cinema, Campbell said it is in a “holding pattern,” waiting for news about a proposed transaction that would see the Calgary-based company take over several screens across Canada owned by Empire Theatres, including the Empire Studio 12 Guildford in Surrey, the Esplanade in North Vancouver and University Heights in Saanich.