Cadillac Fairview Pilots Drive-In Theatre in Mall Parking Lot with Expansion Plans

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Shopping centre landlord Cadillac Fairview piloted a recent drive-in theatre program at its mall property in CF Markville in southern Ontario which will likely expand throughout the country to its other mall locations.

To help ring in the summer season, and to officially welcome back the community to CF Markville, the centre piloted the CF Drive In movie theatre concept in the centre’s parking lot on a Friday and Saturday evening.

Craig Flannagan, Vice-President of Marketing for Canadian shopping centre owner Cadillac Fairview, said the pilot project in Markham, Ontario, will be rolled out to some of the company’s other properties in Canada. The company has 19 shopping centres across the country.

The pop-up drive-in took place June 26-27.


“It’s actually a concept that’s part of a group of things that we’re trying with safety being our top priority. Shortly followed by that we wanted to make sure that we could have some safe and enjoyable experiences for our shoppers and drive-in was one of them,” said Flannagan, adding that the company was excited by the results of the Markham project.

On the first night, people from its CF Insiders (newsletter subscribers) were invited to join and on the second night CF Markville retail clients and employees were invited. The cost was $20 per car. It was a double-feature both evenings with Smallfoot and Goonies. The centre partnered with Kernels to provide all movie-goers with popcorn. About 60 cars each night attended the event.

“Both were really good nights. It’s a pilot. You’re always going to learn things and we learned that consumers like it and our shoppers really liked it and we raised $10,000 for the Markham Stouffville Hospital. So we did some good things there too,” said Flannagan.

“We erected about a 40-foot LED screen that was on a trailer and stage. That allowed us to get really good positioning. It also allows us to be bright so we can start maybe earlier than your projector based drive-in. It was a really bright, high quality screen. The good feedback we got from customers was that the picture quality was really, really strong.


“We’ve got 19 shopping centres across the country and what we wanted to do was make sure that we could pilot at a property that was recently opened so that we could have a chance of welcoming the community back. Some of our properties in the West have been open a little bit longer. So that focused us on Ontario. It was a really great way to start to welcome that community back in a way that was socially distant and really enjoyable.”

Flannagan said 83 perent of the drive-in attendees were very satisfied with the experience.

“That was a really good indication for us that we’ve got something here,” he said. “So we are going to continue to look to roll out to more properties and we’re going to look at longer. How many days can we set up? How many people can we get through in a way that is safe and enjoyable? We’ve got nothing to announce right now in terms of when our next dates will be. But rest assured, we are planning a bit more of the rollout,” he said.

“As we continue to evolve the retail experience, as we continue to look for things that are going to not only drive enjoyment but have people think about the mall in a different way, I could absolutely see things like the CF Drive In experience becoming part of the future. It’s probably too early to say right now but there’s always things that we’re looking at and how could we add more excitement and enjoyment to the experience.”

Flannagan said the CF Drive In experience is just one of other projects Cadillac Fairview is piloting at different places across the country. CF Chinook Centre in Calgary had the CF Face Mask Studio, an opportunity for people to not only pick up a face mask but also to be able to customize and personalize it.


The CF Inspiration Wall at CF Polo Park in Winnipeg involved people writing down messages of inspiration, thanks and celebration as a way to welcome back the community to the mall. A local artist then painted those messages on a wall.

“It is a really moving piece. We’re going to keep it up indefinitely. It’s a really interesting way to mark a time that the community has gone through – a really crazy, interesting time, there’s so many adjectives that people have used to describe this – but that inspiration wall is going to be kind of a marker of this time at Polo Park. And we are going to roll that out in the coming weeks to probably five to seven properties across the country and get those messages from local communities and be able to artistically display those,” added Flannagan.

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior National Business Journalist with Retail Insider in addition to working on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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