Cineplex Entertainment is renting out downtime at its theatres to video gamers looking to play their Xbox 360 titles on a giant screen.
Beginning on Friday, gamers will be able to book two-hour sessions at 29 Cineplex theatres across the country for $179 plus taxes. Up to 12 people will be allowed into the session to play their own games, or those from a supplied library, on the theatre's giant screen with surround sound. The Xbox 360, however, can only accommodate four players at a time.
"It takes it to a whole new level when you see the game on a screen that's more than 50 feet wide," said Pat Marshall, Cineplex's vice-president of communications.
Theatres will generally have about 12 to 24 hours of available downtime a week, mostly in the morning, she said. Many theatres are in "full grind" right now showing summer movies, but they should slow down and have more available time once school begins in September.
Theatres may also stay open late into the evening to accommodate groups, at the discretion of each manager.
"If they wanted to book a four-hour window, we could certainly go later in the evening," Marshall said. "If the theatre manager has the staffing, they could go till two in the morning."
The move to offer video games is the result of years of testing by Cineplex. The theatre chain has been holding one-off gaming sessions and special events in partnership with Microsoft for more than three years, Marshall said. The move also couldn't have happened without new digital projectors that are capable of displaying games in high resolution.
Cineplex also rents theatre downtime to businesses looking for large venues to show video or PowerPoint presentations.