Ottawa's World Exchange Plaza theatre closes its doors

The last downtown multiplex in Ottawa showed its final film Sunday evening after its new operator and the theatre space's landlord couldn't agree on a new lease deal.

Landlord for city's last downtown multiplex, Landmark Cinemas, couldn't agree on new lease deal

The last downtown multiplex theatre in Ottawa closed its doors on Sunday after the theatre company and the landlord of the World Exchange Plaza’s cinema space couldn’t agree to a new lease deal.

Landmark Cinemas purchased the lease of seven-theatre space from Empire Theatres at the end of October, along with leases in Kanata and Orleans, when Empire exited the movie theatre business.

Theatre-goers lined up on Sunday for what could be the final day of movie showings that the World Exchange Plaza location. The theatre closes for good. (CBC)

But in two echoing statements, Landmark and the property manager for the theatre space wrote the sides could not reach a new deal.

“Both the landlord and Landmark worked diligently towards a mutually acceptable lease deal, however, despite a genuine effort from both parties this was unattainable,” wrote Jennifer Arnold, a spokesperson for property manager Bentall Kennedy.

Arnold said the search is on for a new theatre company to take over the lease, but she would not reveal any details on the negotiations.

If they can’t find a new theatre deal, Arnold admitted the landlord would look for a different tenant.

“This is unique space with attributes appealing to those tenants desiring a special location in a prestigious building,” she wrote.

Loss an 'embarrassment' for head of film society

The closing of the theatre happened after the credits rolled on Dallas Buyers Club late Sunday.

It will have an impact on the local film crowd too, according to Nick Ouzas, president of the Ottawa Film Society. The society holds a weekly film club in the theatre where it screens international films. Ouzas said some of their films have not been converted into a digital format and remain only on 35-millimetre film.

The cinema at the World Exchange Plaza is one of only three in Ottawa that can show old films, including the ByTowne and the Mayfair.

The theatre space at the World Exchange Plaza now sits empty. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

“City council dropped the ball in a significant way,” said Ouzas, who believes councillors share responsibility for a failed lease deal.

Ouzas said the report from city staff indicated the loss of the cinema would have little to no impact, but he believes this is an embarrassment for the downtown area.

He did say the film society saw the writing on the wall and planned to find a new site for January. It won’t be as nice, accessible or convenient as the World Exchange, Ouzas admitted.


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