Canadian independent cinemas, film festivals and exhibitors form new network

  • Crucial moment to support an industry at a crossroads
  • Historic landmarks in rural communities, bustling urban screening series, retro drive-in theatres and more unite with Network of Independent Canadian Exhibitors (NICE)
  • NICE deploys ‘Movie Memory’ ad campaign in partnership with Telefilm 

TORONTO, ON – Creating the magic of movie-going has long been a labour of love by dedicated and endlessly inventive independent film exhibitors across Canada. Finally connecting this important cultural industry, the Network of Independent Canadian Exhibitors (NICE) is officially launching at 5:30pm today, with an event supported by Telefilm.

Since NICE informally launched in 2018, the community of independent film exhibitors has grown to over 100 members collaborating and connecting on an online forum, representing over 80 organizations from Victoria to Charlottetown, Whitehorse to Dauphin, Montreal to Vancouver. 

“This business can be inherently isolating, but once we started connecting with our colleagues across Canadian film exhibition and production, we discovered enormous kinship in shared struggles and opportunities,” said NICE board chair Andy Willick, the managing director and film programmer of Ontario venues ByTowne Cinema in Ottawa, Fox Theatre in Toronto and Apollo Cinema in Kitchener.

“It’s been a difficult couple of years for film exhibitors; it’s been financially and emotionally taxing. Through NICE, we’ll be able to support our members in all their diverse circumstances, helping them thrive in a sustainable way and representing their needs to government and industry partners,” continued Willick. “The selection of films we’ve been able to share with our audiences has dropped considerably since the pandemic. We’re working towards better access to film for independent exhibitors, and we see opportunities for the growth of Canadian titles theatrically.” 

State of the industry

Changes in mainstream viewing habits, the tightening of theatrical windows and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted the tradition of movie-going around the world. Today, most NICE members face increasingly limited access to the films their audiences want to see; an issue that requires creative problem-solving across many stakeholders. 

Too often, cinemas are lost in the conversation between commerce and publicly-funded cultural projects. NICE members contribute significantly to their local communities: they have an economic impact on their neighbourhoods and surrounding businesses; they offer venues for local festivals, events and filmmakers; and they host cultural experiences that enrich communities. NICE is here to ensure they remain part of Canada’s cultural fabric.

Timeline of NICE

In 2018, NICE was founded by Sonya William and Jessica Smith, starting as an online discussion board with intermittent meetings.

In 2020, an impacted NICE member filed a complaint with Competition Bureau Canada to request an investigation into what was perceived as Cineplex’s undue influence on non-Cineplex cinemas’ ability to book films. This complaint was dismissed.

In 2020, NICE supported the Canadian Cinema Worker Fund crowdfunding campaign to fundraise for workers who experienced wage disruption from closures due to COVID-19.

In 2020-21 through various closures due to COVID-19, NICE was a key information-sharing network for film exhibitors who benefited from fundraising ideas, “online cinema” resources, community support and more. 

In 2021, NICE partnered with member organization Hot Docs to implement and share the Hot Docs Independent Cinemas Relief Fund. Donations from Hot Docs Festival patrons were shared with struggling venues across Canada. 

In 2021, NICE members shared information about and participated in Telefilm’s Theatrical Exhibition Program roundtables.

In 2022, NICE partnered with Reel Canada to support National Canadian Film Day

In 2022, NICE incorporated as a federal nonprofit and has grown its dues-paying membership to over 70 and growing. 

In 2022, NICE is delighted to support Telefilm’s Movie Memory campaign encouraging a return to the communal film-going experience. NICE venues are currently playing the campaign ad in their pre-show. 

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About the Network of Independent Canadian Exhibitors (NICE)

The Network of Independent Canadian Exhibitors (NICE) is an alliance of Canadian independent cinemas, festivals and professional programmers offering curated film programming to public audiences. NICE acts as an industry body on behalf of and in the interest of Canadian independent film exhibitors, and facilitates a network for information and resource sharing. 

Banner image, pictured from top left, listed clockwise: Toronto Outdoor Picture Show, Toronto, ON; The Patricia Theatre, Powell River, BC; Cinema du Parc, Montreal, QC; Paramount Theatre, The Kamloops Film Society, Kamloops, BC

For more information, beautiful NICE venue photography and interview opportunities, contact Sonya William 

Des cinémas indépendants canadiens et des festivals de films forment un nouveau réseau.

  • Moment crucial pour soutenir une industrie à la croisée des chemins.
  • Des cinémas historiques ruraux, des compagnies de projections urbaines, des ciné-parcs rétro et plus encore s’unissent au Réseau des exploitants canadiens indépendants (NICE).
  • NICE déploie la campagne publicitaire « Movie Memory » en partenariat avec Téléfilm.

TORONTO, 13 septembre 2022 – Générer l’amour de la magie du cinéma est depuis longtemps un travail basé sur la passion des exploitants de salles indépendantes à travers le Canada. Afin d’unir enfin les divers intervenants de cette importante industrie culturelle, le Réseau des exploitants canadiens indépendants (NICE) est officiellement lancé aujourd’hui, avec un événement soutenu par Téléfilm.

Depuis le lancement informel de NICE en 2018, la communauté des exploitants de salles indépendantes a atteint plus de 100 membres participants, représentant plus de 80 organisations, de Victoria à Charlottetown, de Whitehorse à Dauphin, de Montréal à Vancouver.

«Cette industrie peut rapidement créer un sentiment d’isolement, mais une fois que nous avons commencé à échanger avec nos collègues de l’exploitation et de la production de films canadiens, nous avons découvert une énorme ressemblance dans les luttes partagées», a déclaré Andy Willick, président du conseil d’administration de NICE, directeur général et programmateur des cinémas ByTowne Cinema à Ottawa, Fox Theatre à Toronto et Apollo Cinema à Kitchener.

«Les dernières années ont été difficiles pour les exploitants de salles; ça a été lourd à porter financièrement et émotionnellement. Grâce à NICE, nous serons en mesure de soutenir nos membres dans toutes les circonstances, en les aidant à prospérer de manière durable et en représentant leurs besoins auprès du gouvernement et des partenaires de l’industrie », a poursuivi Willick. « L’offre de films que nous avons pu partager avec notre public a considérablement diminuée depuis la pandémie. Nous œuvrons pour un meilleur accès au cinéma pour les cinémas indépendants, et nous voyons des opportunités pour la croissance des films canadiens en salles. »

État de l’industrie

Les changements d’habitudes du grand public, le resserrement des fenêtres de diffusion et les effets persistants de la pandémie de COVID-19 ont eu un impact sur les habitudes de sortie au cinéma dans le monde. Aujourd’hui, la plupart des membres du NICE sont confrontés à un accès de plus en plus limité aux films que leur public souhaite voir; une situation qui nécessite une résolution de problème créative par de nombreuses parties prenantes.

Pour plus d’informations, de belles photographies des cinémas membres de NICE et des opportunités d’entrevue, contactez Sonya William au

Movie Memory, in a cinema near you

Starting today, NICE members of all shapes and sizes across the country have begun sharing the Movie Memory ad spot in their pre-show and more.

Participating members stretch from Whitehorse, Yukon, to Powell River, BC, to Montreal, QC, to Charlottetown, PEI, to Lloydminster, SK, to Hay River, NWT, and the list goes on.

The ad is being shown on 118 NICE big screens reaching over 20,000 seats that host over 100,000 shows annually.

We’re especially delighted to see two NICE members featured in the spot: in Oakville, ON, and The Fox in Toronto, ON. They look great on the big screen.

This initiative could not take place without the support and coordination of Telefilm. It is a wonderful endorsement of the magic of movie-going which we all believe in. Thank you NICE members for participating in this exciting initiative.