Cineplex appoints first chief digital and technology officer

Shawn Mandel will help drive the co.'s "diversification agenda."
Shawn Mandel

Shawn Mandel has joined Cineplex in the new role of chief digital and technology officer and will look to drive innovation within the entertainment company’s various business units.

As Cineplex’s first digital and technology chief, Mandel has oversight of company-wide digital, product and IT strategies and is responsible for driving innovation across its portfolio of businesses, which includes its exhibition and theatre business, its media arm Cineplex Media and its location-based entertainment unit The Rec Room. He joins from Telus, where he was chief digital officer and worked on digital transformation, corporate culture and enhancing the guest experience at the telco.

Mandel says Cineplex has been investing in a few “growth engines,” such as its entertainment space and media businesses, and that he will be leaning into them to help support the company’s growth and “diversification agenda.”

“Those are becoming immediate themes that I’m going to be spending quite a bit of time on, and obviously, partnering with our team in the theatre business, to extract as much value out of our exhibition business as possible,” he says. “The overarching objective [is] how do we integrate all of those assets in a way that allows us to bring one Cineplex together. That’s the big focus.”

Cineplex has been focused on diversifying and integrating as movie theatre attendance continues to its steady decline in the age of smartphones and streaming services. In Q1 of 2019, the company reported a drop of 6.6% in revenue (to $364.9 million), due to a roughly 14% decrease in box office and an 12% decrease in food service. However, last year, it recorded $1.6 billion in revenue, up 3.8% from the year before as a result of higher box office, food service and amusement revenues.

Its diversification has led to new verticals, from food to media and gaming, and the expansion of its exhibition unit with luxury formats such as VIP in-theatre dining. Going forward, the company says it will be looking to scale its gaming-related amusement and leisure concepts, including The Rec Room (for which it has just opened its sixth location), as well as opening new Playdium complexes for teens and families and new Topgolf sports and entertainment venues.

With Mandel’s hiring, Cineplex has replaced the previous chief technology officer role, most recently occupied by Jeff Kent, adding to it the remit of chief digital officer with responsibilities over product and data as well. He reports directly to Ellis Jacob, president and CEO of Cineplex.