NOW magazine reports that the Royal will be taken over by the company now operating the Regent theatre up on Mt. Pleasant Road. Read about it here.
Although the Kingsway will close, there are no plans to sell the building, and this leaves the theatre intact. We will have to wait and see.
My original post from last Sunday, the 25th, follows below.
Over the next week, I will be spending a last evening in four of our movie theatres, long-standing members of the Festival cinema chain, that are closing on June 30.
Tonight, I’m off to the Royal to see The Notorious Bettie Page. I’ve seen it before, at last year’s Film Festival, but somehow it seems appropriate for the evening of Pride Day after a great march down Yonge Street carrying the Leather Pride flag. The Royal is a nice old cinema, and it may get a new life as it is the most central and is a large house. It would be a shame to lose this landmark in one of Toronto’s hottest districts.
Tuesday evening, I will be at the Kingsway to see Thank You for Smoking, another film I first saw at least year’s Festival. The Kingsway always seemed out of the way to me, way out there at Bloor and Royal York, but the distance was more psychological than physical (it’s a short hop by subway). Years ago, before they put in a new, bigger screen, the Kingsway won me over with a showing of Lawrence of Arabia. This theatre has lights down both sides and across the bottom of the screen (which had a curtain in those days). Lawrence has a 10-minute long overture, and the projectionist was having fun that evening. The lights went down slowly, with each colour (all on manual dimmers in the booth) taken down a notch at a time. Just as the overture ended, the “Columbia” logo came up, projected on the curtain in best grand cinema style, the house lights went all the way down, the curtain opened, and the film began. Magic! You don’t get that in a multiplex with stadium seating, I’m afraid.
Thursday night will see me at the Paradise for Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story. I missed that one at the Festival, and will get my chance at it as my farewell to the Paradise. It’s a little neighbourhood cinema, and when it opened, the neighbourhood was a bit run down. The Paradise was part of the rejuvenation of Bloor West, and it’s sad to see it closing even if the seats are a tad too small for me, especially with winter clothes.
Finally, on Friday, I will be at the Revue. This cinema has been open continuously for 90 years, one of the originals. Back before we had a Festival Cinema chain or the Cinematheque Ontario, I spent many evenings at the Revue learning all about European films. Yes, like so many of my era, I saw much Bergman there, but also had the revelation, through his early comedies, that he was not just the maker of dour films where relationships were always askew and psychic, if not physical, violence always lurked under the surface. In later years, the Revue’s fare became mainstream, they put in a bigger screen and new seats. Sitting in plush seats at the Revue seemed almost sinful.
The Revue will close out with Lawrence of Arabia. There’s hope that it will be revived as a neighbourhood cinema. We shall see.
Meanwhile, this is a week to say goodbye to four old friends, and with them a good chunk of the old style movie theatres that made Toronto such a movie town.