MAGIC LANTERN THEATRES
- DUGGAN CINEMAS Camrose
- ELITE THEATRE St. Paul
- FORT CINEMA Fort Saskatchewan
- RIVER CITY CINEMA Peace River
- VISTA THEATRE Whitecourt
Magic Lantern Theatres is a Canadian motion picture exhibition company, established in Edmonton in 1984, with view to reviving the love of friendly, neighbourhood cinemas.
We offer quality movie entertainment, at prices that are affordable, to encourage entire families to come to our cinemas more frequently. We are leaders of innovative promotions involving charities and local causes and encourage our staff to be proactive in community work. Our business philosophy has proved to be popular and has contributed our success and growth.
Magic Lantern Theatres currently operates 9 cinema locations with 36 screens across Canada, including 2 cinemas under the Rainbow Cinemas banner.
Who are we? A brief history...
The Magic Lantern Story
The year is 1984. The small town movie business in western Canada has been hit from all sides: new technology, cable TV, satellite TV (remember when TV was picked up with rabbit ears?) and Video tapes, all at the same time, luring people away from the theatres. Video rental stores were the latest thing, offering 70 years' worth of a movie library to the public. The cinemas started to hurt badly!
But, it was not cinemas alone that were hurting. Companies that sold supplies to cinemas also suffered because their customers were either out of business or couldn't pay their bills. Independent Theatre Supply, associate of the soon-to-be-spawned Magic Lantern Theatres, was in a tough position. It had to find some way to keep a few small theatres in operation, so its theatre equipment supply business could continue. The answer for the equipment company owners? Undertake the reopening of the closed theatres themselves by fixing them up as much as possible and operating them with energetic, community based business practices.
This strategy worked well on the whole. The businesses kept their head above water and continued to grow. As the years progressed, and experience was gained, the smaller cinemas were sold and the larger ones improved. The theatre supply company and the movie exhibition company made a good marriage, with one partner helping the other flourish.
The Rainbow Cinemas Story
Once, on a trip through Montana, the owners stopped at Great Falls. They noticed the facades of what had been big, important theatres on Main Street. One of them was named the Rainbow Theatre (after the rainbow effect at the Falls). The comment was made: "That is a real good name for a theatre... must remember it".
In the early 1990s, a new type of cinema was springing up in the United States. The Discount, or Dollar Theatre. Unlike the older "dollar cinemas" — usually first-run cinemas that dropped the prices because they were old, or run down, or badly located — these were new-built multiplex theatres that showed movies, after their first run, and charged very low prices. They depended on volume of attendance to make money. Magic Lantern decided to build a Discount Cinema, after studying the success of this new idea.
Saskatoon was chosen, and the name... well, why not use the one from Great Falls? Rainbow Cinema was born. A couple years later, a sister theatre was built in Regina, so there were two Rainbows in Saskatchewan. Further expansion of this concept was stymied, however, because the cost of land and taxes was too high in cities where Rainbow discount theatres could have been successful.
The year 2000 was a tough year for the film exhibition industry in North America. Most movies that year were not big moneymakers. Also, many major movie exhibitors went bankrupt or struggled with big losses because they had overbuilt the expensive, stadium-type-seating gigaplexes. These were usually located on the peripheral areas of the cities.
In Canada, many landlords found themselves with empty theatre structures, after being abandoned by the major exhibitors. The landlords began approaching smaller companies, such as Magic Lantern, to re-open these theatres. This situation allowed Magic Lantern to venture into Ontario.
The first Ontario cinema opened by Magic Lantern was in London, at Galleria Mall (now Citi Plaza). It was opened as a discount move-over cinema, and so it was called Rainbow, like the ones in Saskatchewan. Rainbow London (Citi-Plaza) is a success story right from the start.
The next Rainbow Cinema was at Promenade Mall, Thornhill. It opened as a Rainbow Discount cinema, but due to market conditions switched policies to play first run movies at moderate prices. Still a great movie deal, but with first run films! The next year two more locations were added in Toronto, using Promenade's operation pattern.
In May 2016, a strategic decision was made to sell the cinema locations in London, Toronto and Ottawa.
One of Rainbow/Magic Lantern's strengths is that it has a variety of cinemas, in many types of locations. We have small town single screen theatres; we have large city multiplex theatres; we have discount theatres and we have art/alternative theatres. We are not a "one-size-fits-all" company because we see the value in diversity of movie-going experiences.
We have many pragmatic ideas and plans that concentrate on our strengths of friendly, community based movie theatres. We want to keep our places well maintained, with good projection and sound and hot fresh popcorn. We want our staff to be happy that they work for Magic Lantern.
Above all, we want you, our patrons, to continue to choose Rainbow Cinemas and Magic Lantern Theatres as your friendly, local, movie-destination.