01 April 2008

Damn You, Cineplex Entertainment (An ONEX Corporation)

So, according to Le Devoir, Cineplex Entertainment is blackmailing art house film distributors into helping kill off the network of independent salles parallèles cinemas in rural Quebec. Basically, because K-Films Amérique, a local distributor of foreign and domestic art house fare, has decided to show the forthcoming French film Un baiser s'il vous plaît (which, by the way, is supposed to be quite good) in salles parallèles in Rimouski, Victoriaville and Sept-Îles, in addition to Cineplex locations in Montreal and Quebec City, Cineplex has decided to pull the film. Never mind the fact that they were never going to show this film in those towns anyway (art house films weren't even being shown in towns like that at all until the salles parallèles came about), they just for whatever reason feel they should have exclusive, Quebec-wide rights to any film that they screen in Montreal, even when they themselves do not have any intention of presenting them across Quebec. In the past few months they've also pulled 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days (last year's Palme d'or at Cannes), as well Up the Yangtze.

Cineplex, and the other mainstream commerical cinemas represented by the Association des propriétaires de salles de cinéma du Québec, claim that the salles parallèles represent unfair competition, because they are partially subsidised by the SODEC. But these are the same mainstream commercial cinemas that refuse to show art house films outside of the major metropolitan areas, and whose refusal to do so led to the creation of the salles parallèles in the first place! When it comes right down to it, the salles parallèles do $600,000 of business a year, versus $450,000,000 for commercial cinemas in Quebec. This competition argument hasn't got a leg to stand on. They just want to kill off all cinéma d'auteur so that the only option remaining for people is to go and see the same Hollywood rubbish they've been forcing down our throats since long before I was born. When I was just on the cusp of my twenties, I graduated from this to this, and there's no way I'm going back now!

What is wrong with this company, anyway? Notice how they renamed the Paramount Cinema in downtown Montreal the Scotia Bank Cinema? What has Scotia Bank got to do with cinema? No doubt this has more to do with Gerry being on the board of both Scotia Bank and Cineplex (via ONEX) than anything else. He may be a fellow Winnipegger and University of Manitioba old boy, but I'm afraid he's trying to do to the culture of cinema in this country what his wife is doing the culture of books.

Let's just boycott the whole thing, shall we? Independent cinemas like the Cinémathèque, the Globe Cinema and the Park Theatre in Winnipeg, as well as Ex-Centris, Cinéma du Parc, Cinéma Beaubien and the Cinémathèque Québécoise in Montreal are definitely the way to go. Stay away from Chapters/Indigo while you're at it too.

By the way, ridiculous commercial practices such as this give rise to the following comments that find their way into Le Devoir

«Cela veut-il dire que c'est à Toronto qu'on décidera si le cinéma d'auteur pourra être vu en région au Québec?», dénonce M. Dussault.
«C'est Toronto qui applique sa loi, et c'est le public francophone qui écope», a tonné Michel Gagnon.
«Il faut que Québec s'en mêle pour remettre un peu d'ordre dans tout ça. Ce n'est pas Toronto qui doit décider de ce qui va se diffuser au Québec», ajoute M. Gagnon.
which in turn continues to give the rest of Canada (as represented by Toronto) a bad name in Quebec. Thanks a lot Gerry. Well done!