Cinema in Toronto: Three Rep Theatres to Close

I was shocked to receive word that three of the most venerable rep cinemas in Toronto are about to close their doors at the end of June: The Royal (at College & Clinton Sts.), The Revue (on Roncesvalles), and The Kingsway (Bloor W.).

Excerpt from the Toronto Star:

The theatres — part of the Festival Cinemas group — were owned by cinema entrepreneur Peter McQuillan, who died in October 2004.

Last night, his son Mark told the Star that he and his two siblings made the decision to close the theatres reluctantly.

“The heart and soul was my father. Since (his death), we have been trying our best to run (the business).

“But we don’t have the time, the energy and the financial wherewithal to keep it going,” said McQuillan, noting difficult market conditions contributed to their decision.

“I feel bad if they are closing. We might get a few more customers but I don’t know what it says for the industry,” said Carmelo Bordonaro, owner of the Bloor Cinema.

“It’s a labour of love, these cinemas, believe me — a lot of hard work,” Bordonaro said. [read more]

It’s not hard to imagine how daunting a task it would be to run a rep cinema, even in a city as film/film-festival crazy as Toronto.

Film projectors in theatres are going to be cultural fossils within the next 5 years as the industry moves towards digital distribution. Film itself will probably be relegated to a shooting format only (alongside HD).

Yet…aside from being able to cheaply watch the latest films after their official theatrical run (they gotta make money after all), rep theatres are the ones that are able to show us – on film – works of the great filmmakers that came before us; the ones that painted our current cinematic archetypes. Soon, I realise, if you want to see anything by Kurosawa, Bergman, Tarkovsky, or Welles – it will have to be on DVD.

Of course, there are still a few rep cinemas left: The Bloor, The Paradise, The Fox…however, who knows how many years they have left? Pretty soon the Cinematheque will be the only one; a museum for film.

May I suggest that, if you live in downtown Toronto, you make a trek to one of these fleeting oases before they cease operations. Buy cheap popcorn, put up with dilapidated seats and sticky floors, and enjoy films as they were meant (or hoped) to be seen.


One Reply to “Cinema in Toronto: Three Rep Theatres to Close”

  1. That’s terrible news. I love Toronto’s ever-dwindling rep theatres. The Music Hall on the Danforth is being used for a dance show and I don’t know if it will return to films afterwards.

    I’ve always dreamed of running a rep theatre, though I have no experience no the money to do so. That’s why it is a dream I suppose.

    There is an excellent book called The Nabes that documents all the former (and current) rep theatres in the city. Once you’ve read it, you can pick them out on almost any street you’re on.

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