Summerside Cineplex reopens, but Charlottetown location won't be ready until 2023

The Cineplex in Charlottetown is anticipated to remain closed until the end of February 2023. Summerside's theatre reopened on Nov. 11. (Safiyah Marhnouj/CBC - image credit)
The Cineplex in Charlottetown is anticipated to remain closed until the end of February 2023. Summerside's theatre reopened on Nov. 11. (Safiyah Marhnouj/CBC - image credit)

For more than a month, Prince Edward Island's Cineplex theatres have been closed to the public. Both the Summerside and Charlottetown locations sustained extensive damage during post-tropical storm Fiona.

On Friday, the Summerside theatre opened to the public after weeks of repairs. In Charlottetown, however, the wait could last until the new year.

"It will probably be the end of February that we'll open," said Chauntel Ormandy, Cineplex's executive director of operations for Atlantic Canada.

Of the two theatres, Ormandy said the Charlottetown location faced far more extensive damages. Summerside's location had some water damage and moisture in parts of the lobby and theatre.

In Charlottetown, part of the roof was torn off, there was significant flooding and water damage, and close to five heating and ventilation units were lost.

"It was like raining through the light," Ormandy said of the scene in Charlottetown after the storm.

"There was no roof, rain had come in and pooled and it was just raining straight," she said.

Replacing the roof, rebuilding the walls and installing a new concession stand are just some of the repairs that need to be made at the Charlottetown location in the coming months.

Product delays have also pushed back the arrival of new heating and ventilation units that need to be installed, Ormandy said.

She said it's too early to tell how much the total repairs will cost.

Missed screenings

In the roughly seven weeks since the theatres have been closed, Ormandy said around 10 newly-released movie openings were missed, including Bros and Black Adam.

Shane Hennessy/CBC
Shane Hennessy/CBC

For Dave Stewart, a film commentator based in Charlottetown, having both Cineplex theatres closed on the Island for more than a month has been "super frustrating."

Although there are other cinema alternatives on the Island like independent theatre City Cinema, Stewart said Cineplex is usually the only location to watch mainstream new releases.

"People are understanding that it's not a choice that Cineplex is making, it's due to Hurricane Fiona. But I think we're all chomping at the bit to get back to the movies," he said.

Submitted by Dave Stewart
Submitted by Dave Stewart

With the theatres closed since late September, Stewart said he was disappointed to miss out on new horror releases that came out ahead of Halloween, like Smile and Halloween Ends.

"The fact that I wasn't able to see it was a drag," he said. "As a horror freak, that's my Christmas, my everything all rolled up into one."

Although he's glad to hear the Summerside location opened Friday, Stewart said he prefers to have a nearby option, especially when driving in the winter.

"Unfortunately I think for some of us, we're going to fall into alternative ways of seeing movies," Stewart said, adding the anticipated months-long closure in Charlottetown might have a long-term effect on watching habits.

"There's definitely a risk of people watching content at home and not coming back to the movies," Ormandy said. But she added theatres offer an enhanced experience, including big screens and great sound, that can't be replicated at home.

Changes expected in reopening

Although the Summerside theatre is now ready for audiences, Ormandy said attendees might notice a few changes.

"There won't be a floor there, it's down to concrete, but we think it's important to have movies out for the citizens of P.E.I. as soon as we can," she said.

Among the expected changes in Charlottetown's theatre are a brand new lobby and concession stand.

"We're still trying to determine what the damages are so that we can plan to see what the new design will look like," she said.

Staff members had been called back to work to prepare for the reopening at the Summerside location on Friday.

There are about 25 staff members employed at Cineplex in Charlottetown, who Ormandy said will be called back to work ahead of the theatre's anticipated reopening in the new year.