Cineplex Founder Nat Taylor Passes Away

posted by rivest266 on March 3, 2004 at 5:51 am

TORONTO, CANADA — Canadian exhibitor Nat Taylor, credited with creating the first multiplex theater in 1948 (Elgin and Little Elgin in Ottawa) and introducing movie theaters to shopping malls (Yorkdale Theatre and Cinema), passed away on Tuesday at the age of 98, according to the Toronto Star.

Some of Taylor’s innovations include:

• One of the earliest multi-screen movie theaters (when he added a second screen to Ottawa’s Elgin Theatre)
• First triplex theater
• First quad theater
• First quintuplex theater (the Uptown)
• First theater in a shopping mall (the Yorkdale Plaza/Silver City)
• First 18-screen theater (a precursor of today’s megaplex)
• Coined the term “cineplex”

Theaters in this post

Comments (12)

VincentParisi on March 3, 2004 at 6:28 am

Thank you Mr. Taylor for helping to destroy the movie-going experience for so many of us and bringing about the destruction of so many magnificent buildings. I hope your millions made you a very happy man in compensation for the sadness you caused a lot of movie lovers and admirers of the great downtowns.

Patrick Crowley
Patrick Crowley on March 3, 2004 at 6:51 am

Vincent — I think you’re being a little harsh here. While it may be easy to blame Nat Taylor for the demise of the movie palace, it’s not particularly fair.

Ultimately, as important as it is to save classic movie theaters, we must all recognize that the rise of multiplexes and megaplexes is due to one thing — moviegoers themselves. In a way, we are all victims of our own thirst for convenience.

Too, there are plenty of amazing “Cinema Treasures” that have more than a single screen, so it would seem Nat Taylor’s work was not all bad.

VincentParisi on March 3, 2004 at 8:07 am

Patrick, While I may seem harsh the damage that many successful real estate developers and speculators have caused to both our society and culture is incalculable. These are often individuals who as Lillian Helman so brilliantly put it “eat the earth.” I of course do not totally blame him as I realize there’s a lot going on here but neither do I have much sympathy for those who use their brilliance and energy to exploit rather than to nourish. Didn’t what Robert Moses did to New York City hasten the decay of the 70’s? Now if you told me that Taylor used his profits from these architectural horrors for movie palace preservation I would certainly change my tune(he could have saved the New York Rivoli or Criterion for us.)
Also, except for movie palaces that have had additional screens added such as Grauman’s Chinese are there really any multi-screen treasures?
Cineplexes have made me personally very grateful for DVDs for current films though I’d much rather see a classic at the Loew’s Jersey.

edward on March 3, 2004 at 5:19 pm

Vincent – You would have to extend your displeasure to urban planners, city councillors, studio executives, film distributors, rising land values and television in general; to account for the demise of the much loved single screen movie palace. As to Mr. Taylor, his Elgin and Uptown theatres were both excellent theatres. The Ottawa Elgin was a nice Art Deco twin theatre until Famous Players closed it in 1994.

The Uptown was a great venue, Cinema 1 was huge (former balcony ) of a movie palace heavily damaged by fire in the 60’s. Although stripped of much of it’s decor, it was still a grand place. It became another casualty of Famous Players' abandoning older functioning theatres such as the Eglinton and Capitol. The Uptown was a multi-screen treasure that is a huge loss to the city of Toronto, as is the Elgin to Ottawa.
I was lucky to attend the premiere of David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive during the Toronto Film Festival at the restored former Loew’s Elgin Theatre, Toronto. It was exciting to experience viewing a film in a former single screen movie palace with a full house. When is the last time anyone sat in a full balcony for a movie? There is no comparison between this and the modern movieplex.
Unfortunately, the business of exhibiting films is now more concerned with sales from concessions than the overall EXPERIENCE of attending a film. Perhaps the coming digital age and the slow rejuvenation of many downtowns will bring a new interpretation of the movie palace as did the introduction of sound and widescreen.

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