Skip to main content

Customers purchase movie tickets at the Cineplex Scotiabank Theatre in Toronto in this file photo.Matthew Sherwood/The Globe and Mail

Cineplex Inc. is signalling its theatres aren't just for movies any more, announcing a new sponsorship deal with Sony Computer Entertainment Canada to host video gaming tournaments.

The partnership will put Sony's PlayStation brand on a series of national tournaments Cineplex will host for eSports gamers – a growing market of video game enthusiasts who compete online in a range of games, often for major cash prizes.

Sony is the presenting sponsor for the tournaments, and has the right to select the title sponsor for Canadian Championship tournaments through 2016.

For Cineplex, eSports represents a new way to use its vast theatre infrastructure, while helping it diversify its business to be less reliant on the peaks and troughs of the Hollywood film business. The gaming industry now boasts more than 200 million users and viewers worldwide, and continues to grow.

The first Cineplex-led tournament will award the Canadian crown for Call of Duty: Black Ops III, a hugely popular military combat game. Early rounds will be contested online starting Jan. 16 through WorldGaming, an eSports platform Cineplex acquired last fall, with regional and national finals held in theatres in late February and early March. The total prize pool is $50,000.

"By collaborating with Cineplex and WorldGaming, we are able to bring one of the best experiences to gaming fans across the country," said Ryan Hassan, general manager for Sony Computer Entertainment Canada.