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For the fictional character called Megaplex see Megaplex

A multiplex is a movie theater complex with more than three screens. The largest of these complexes are sometimes referred to as a megaplex.


Definitions of what constitutes a multiplex versus a megaplex is related to the number of screens, but often the comparison is arbitrary. For example, 12 to 16 screens may constitute a multiplex, whereas theaters above 16 screens may be branded a megaplex. Megaplex theaters sometimes feature stadium seating and other amenities often not found at smaller movie theaters. Multiplex theatres often feature regular seating; however, the screens are often smaller than those found in traditional movie palaces.



The lineage of multiplex movie theaters traces its roots back to the 1930s, although the concept truly did not begin to take root until the mid-1960s.

In December 1947, Nat Taylor, the operator of the Elgin Theatremarker in Ottawa, Canada, opened a smaller second theater ("Litle Elgin") next door to his first theater. It wasn't until 1957, however, that Taylor decided to run different movies in each theater, when he became annoyed at having to replace films that were still making money with new releases. Taylor opened dual-screen theaters in 1962 in Place Ville Marie in Montreal, Quebec, and at Yorkdale Plaza in Toronto, Ontario, in 1964.

In 1937, James Edwards twinned his Alhambra Theater in the Los Angeles area by converting an adjacent storefront into a second "annex" screen. While both screens would show the same feature movie, one would also offer a double bill. It did not convert to showing different movies on both screens until some time after Taylor.

In 1963, AMC Theatres opened the two-screen Parkway Twin in Kansas City, a concept which company president Stan Durwood later claimed to have come up with in 1962, realizing he could double the revenue of a single theater "by adding a second screen and still operate with the same size staff." Also, the shopping center structure where the Parkway was located could not support a large theater, so two small theaters were built to avoid that issue, and at first both theaters played the same film. AMC followed up on the Parkway Twin with a four-screen theatre in 1966 and a six-screen theatre in 1969.

Screen Wars

Opening in April 1979, co-founded by Nat Taylor, the world's largest theater became the 18-screen Cineplex in Toronto's Eaton Centremarker, which was expanded to 21 screens by at least 1981.

In November 1988, Kinepolis Brussels opened with 25 screens, and is often credited as being the first "megaplex."

On December 30, 1996, AMC Ontario Mills 30, 30-screen theatre, opened in Ontario, California, and became the theatre with the most screens in the world.

United States

In the United States, the 14-screen Cineplex in the Beverly Center Mall in West Hollywood, California, became the country's largest upon opening in 1982.

In December 1998, Studio 28 in Grand Rapids, Michiganmarker, expanded from 12 to 20 screens with a seating capacity of 6,000. (Studio 28 closed in November 2008).

The AMC Grand 24 opened in Dallas, Texas 1995 as the first 24-screen multiplex built from the ground up in the United States.AMC Theatres has since built many megaplexes with up to 30 screens, starting with the AMC Ontario Mills 30.


The largest megaplex in the Southern Hemispheremarker is the 26-screen Megaplex Marion in Adelaidemarker, South Australiamarker. The megaplex was originally a 30-screen megaplex but was modified to accommodate Gold Class screens. The auditoriums sit on top of Westfield Marionmarker, which is the largest shopping complex in Adelaidemarker.


In Indiamarker, the mushrooming of multiplexes since the mid-90s has changed the dynamics of the Indian Film Industry. Production costs are now recovered in days, not months and viewers have accepted the concept. There have been concerns over high ticket prices, and the phenomena has predominantly been restricted to the larger cities, but Indian cinema chains like PVR , Inox and CineMax are changing the rules of exhibition in the world's largest film industry. The Largest Multiplex in India is the 11-screen multiplex by PVR at The Forum marker, Bangaloremarker.


During a high period of growth in many towns, the competition presented by a multiplex would often put the town's smaller theaters out of business. Multiplexes were often developed in conjunction with big box stores in power centres or in suburban malls during the 70's and 80's. The expansion was executed at the big-box pace which left many theater companies bankrupt while attempting to compete — almost all major movie theater companies went bankrupt during this hasty development process, however AMC Theatres did not go into bankruptcy.

The early U.S. megaplexes sparked a wave of megaplex building across the United States. This was financed in part by a sale-leaseback model with Entertainment Properties Trust.

See also


  1. Melnick, Ross & Fuchs, Andrea. Cinema treasures: a new look at classic movie theaters p. 180-81 (2004)(ISBN 978-0760314920)("the new 'megaplex' theater, defined as containing 16 or more screens"; "Durwood opened the AMC Grand 24 (Dallas) in May 1995")
  2. Klady, Leonard. " Obituaries: Stanley Durwood." Variety, July 19, 1999, p. 40.
  3. ("Cineplex opened mid-April...")
  4. Acland, Charles R. Screen traffic: movies, multiplexes, and global culture p.136 (2003)(ISBN 978-0822331636)
  • Marlene Edmunds, "Kinepolis Keeps the Plexes Coming", Variety, June 15, 1998, p. 74.
  • William Echikson, "Taking the Megaplex on the Road", Business Week, no. 3547 (Oct. 6, 1997), p. 21.

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