By David Reevely, Ottawa Citizen
OTTAWA — The owner of the movie theatre being built at Lansdowne Park is getting out of the cinema business, leaving the future of the theatre at the controversial redevelopment site unclear.
Empire Co., which owns Empire Theatres and the Sobeys supermarket chain, is selling its movie houses to focus on the grocery business, the company announced Thursday morning.
The existing theatres are being divided between Cineplex Inc. and Landmark Cinemas. Cineplex is paying $200 million cash for Empire's holdings in Atlantic Canada and Calgary-based Landmark is part of a more complicated buyout of Empire's cinemas in the West. They're splitting Empire's holdings in Ontario, with Cineplex picking up its theatre in Kanata and one in Whitby and Landmark getting the rest, including one in Orléans.
None of the companies' news releases Thursday specifically said anything about Empire's movie theatres at Ottawa's Exchange Centre or what will happen to the one under construction at Lansdowne.
"We haven't yet had conversation with the developer regarding its final state," said Empire spokesman Andrew Walker from Mississauga. Empire has a lease with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, the consortium of developers redeveloping Lansdowne in partnership with the City of Ottawa, to operate a theatre there and Walker said he expects Empire will honour it.
There's supposed to be a cinema at Lansdowne and he expects there will be one, in other words. "It was a commitment that was made and I would expect it to continue in that state," Walker said.