On 18 April 1941 Nathan L. Nathanson, a businessman who had started the Famous Players Canada Corporation in 1920, founded the Canadian Odeon Theatres chain, hoping to take over control of the Canadian market from his former American business associates. His son Paul Nathanson was officially in charge of the new company. After the death of Nathanson Sr. in 1943, however, the chain was taken over by British Odeon, itself controlled by the Rank Organisation, the largest film company in Britain. Initially, Odeon was active primarily in English Canada, where it quickly took over many important movie theatres.

Odeon entered the Quebec market in 1945, when it purchased a circuit of seven small movie theatres in Montreal and another in Saint-Jérôme. The company continued to expand in Quebec until the arrival of television in 1952, acquiring in particular the Dauphin and Frontenac theatres in Quebec City and the Capitol in Saint-Jean.

Odeon tried to develop French-speaking audiences by building modern new movie theatres in Montreal’s north and east ends. It built the Crémazie theatre on St-Denis Street in 1947 and the Mercier and the Champlain (the latter was its most prestigious theatre in Quebec) on Ste. Catherine Street East in 1948. The company’s Quebec manager, Jacques J. Martin, established these theatres through programs often made up of American films dubbed into French. Odeon did not have access to first-run American films in English, which Famous Players and United Amusement, run by George Ganetakos, continued to reserve for themselves. American distributors discovered a feature of the local market: French-speaking viewers would go to see films in French that they had seen initially in English without understanding them completely.

In 1977 Garth Drabinsky and Nat Taylor purchased the Odeon chain, which became Cineplex Odeon Canada. The company came full circle in 2005, when Cineplex Odeon and Famous Players merged.