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Empire chain dropping Grant Park cinemas

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Winnipeg director  Guy Maddin is in Montreal working on Seances with the cream of Quebec actors. The work is intended to recreate a 'lost' classic silent film.

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Winnipeg director Guy Maddin is in Montreal working on Seances with the cream of Quebec actors. The work is intended to recreate a 'lost' classic silent film. Photo Store

A bit of movie-business news has almost gone unnoticed amid the flurry of corporate takeovers of the past couple of weeks.

The Empire Grant Park Cinemas at the Grant Park Shopping Centre are expected to shift ownership from Empire (the chain is owned by Sobeys, which is getting out of the movie business to concentrate on supermarkets) to Landmark, the western Canadian film exhibitor that operates the Globe and Towne cinemas in Winnipeg.

The deal will go through in the next two months, says Landmark chief operating officer Neil Campbell, a former Manitoban, who adds Calgary-based Landmark will also pick up Empire properties in Brandon and Winkler.

"We're thrilled to be back in Manitoba in a big way," Campbell says.

As far as physical changes to the Grant Park Cinemas, Campbell says it is too soon to announce specific changes, but one major upgrade may be in the multiplex's future.

Landmark operates a big screen/big sound/big seats cinema called Xtreme in one of its Kelowna, B.C., theatres. Watch this space for similar announcements in the Winnipeg marketplace.

As far as the types of movies being screened at the Grant Park, Campbell acknowledges that, in the past few years, both the Globe and the Grant Park have been screening art-house movies. Grant Park is currently playing Before Midnight and the Globe is screening Frances Ha, The East and Much Ado About Nothing.

"I think there will just be more co-ordination with which of the two houses the art films will play," Campbell says. "We will be able to control both, so we'll be able to pick the best location for each specific film."

Grant Park's acquisition does not place either of the other Landmark properties in jeopardy, he says.

"We've spent close to a million dollars (upgrading) the Towne, over the last four years," Campbell says. As for the Globe: "As long as we can continue to make good deals with the landlords, we aren't going anywhere."

-- -- --

Last year, Guy Maddin worked with the cream of European actors (Charlotte Rampling, Mathieu Amalric, Geraldine Chaplin and Udo Kier) on the project Spiritismes at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.

As of Thursday, Maddin began repeating that process in Montreal's Phi Centre -- shooting a "lost" classic film a day in a museum in front of a live audience -- with the cream of Quebec actors, including Karine Vanasse, Roy Dupuis, C©line Bonnier, Carole Laure and Caroline Dhavernas. The shoot is expected to take 13 days.

Described as "a film shoot, an experience and an installation, which will subsequently become a film and an interactive work," the project, Seances, proceeds on the premise that most silent filmmakers lost at least one film to a twist of fate and the films "have hovered like ghosts in search of their final resting place," with Maddin acting as midwife to recreate the lost films.

-- -- --

Harry Potter fans looking for a little break from their Muggle existence might consider a trip to Portage la Prairie today for a magic-themed event at the Fort la Reine Museum.

In tandem with the museum's current exhibit -- Harry Potter's World: Renaissance Science, Magic and Medicine -- the Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is bringing owls into the mix with the show Who's Who: Owls of Manitoba & Friends.

Among the attractions between 1 and 4 p.m. is an "owl pellet dissection activity." For $1 per pellet, participants can "find out what Hedwig ate for dinner."

For more info, go to www.fortlareinemuseum.ca.

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 6, 2013 G11

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