TORONTO — Some Canadians with a hankering for movie theatre popcorn without the trek to a cinema are in luck.
Cineplex Inc. has started to offer delivery of concession stand snacks — popcorn, hot dogs, candy, nachos and soft drinks — to customers in 60 communities throughout Ontario, Alberta, B.C. and Quebec this week.
The offering, a partnership with Uber Eats, comes months after Cineplex tested delivery in university towns in southern Ontario and as the entertainment giant ramped up its efforts to diversify its revenue beyond movie screenings, whose profits can be unpredictable because they are dependent on the strength of the films studios roll out.
To combat that unpredictability and the popularity of on-demand streaming services that are increasingly convincing film lovers to stay home to watch movies, Cineplex has expanded concession stand products, offered VIP seating and opened Rec Room gaming bars and a Playdium arcade centre in Ontario.
Those ventures have drawn in a young demographic that is also likely be a fan of the delivery service, Cineplex CEO Ellis Jacob said.
"I know when I was studying for exams, I didn't want to leave (the house), but I still wanted a treat," he said. "This allows you to do that or if you've got little kids and you want to watch something at home, you can do that and have the goodies at the same time."
The service is available in cities including Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa and Montreal, but parts of downtown Toronto will be left out of the offering because some theatre concession stands aren't easily accessible for Uber Eats drivers.
If there is demand for an expansion to unserviced areas, Jacob said Cineplex will look at using its Rec Room gaming bars and head office as hubs for delivery or consider opening a distribution centre.
For now, he said the company will focus on Ontario, Alberta, B.C. and Quebec because of their high populations and the company's large network of theatres there.
The foods Cineplex will deliver from theatres in those provinces will be packaged for deliveries. Popcorn will be double-bagged and sealed at the top, so kernels don't spill out in transit and hot dogs will be wrapped in foil and dropped off alongside condiments in small packages.
On top of concession stand treats, customers will also be able to order combos that include movie rentals from the Cineplex Store.
If the service takes off, Jacob said delivery customers might see new treats crop up for delivery.
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