Cineplex brings NHL games to movie goers in Canada

By Andrew Lippe

Cineplex Entertainment LP, a motion picture complex in Canada that owns 132 theatres with 1,309 screens, will broadcast National Hockey League (NHL) games to theaters across the country.
“This is the closet thing to being at the game,” says Pat Marshall vice president of communications and investor relations at Cineplex Entertainment LP.

More importantly, it will be the only way to watch the games outside of having a ticket to the actual game because they won’t be available on regular cable or broadcast television.
Cineplex struck deals with the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators with a fifth Canadian team expected to be added soon. The deal with the Oilers, for example, calls for 10 games to be shown only in theaters, with digital projectors in four theatres in Edmonton and two theatres in Saskatchewan Alberta giving fans a chance to see hockey on the big screen with adults paying $10.95 and children $8.95.

Bell Express View will send a digital HD signal via satellite to Cineplex digital projectors. The same HD production trucks used for TV productions will be used to handle the HD productions but the feed, instead of being sent to viewers at home, will be sent to theaters. Commercials will also be included.
Theaters will hold between 300 and 400 fans with screens measuring up to 60-feet wide and even 50-feet tall. The sounds of the bone crunching checks and hits are heard in clarity on digital surround sound speakers. “The fans really get into it; the fans stand up in the auditorium during the national anthem,” says Marshall.
On Oct. 12 Oilers fans were treated to watching their team overcome a 4-1 deficit at home against the San Jose Sharks. The atmosphere in the theater was electric. “The Oilers sell out every event,” said Marshall.
Hockey, a struggling sport that in the United States, is beloved in Canada. In Edmonton Oilers fans are embraced by ownership and each fan is considered part of the family. “Hockey in many states has a corporate culture, but here it’s about the fans,” says Marshall.

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