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The six screen multiplex that opened in 1990, following this location, closed today. It is to be replaced with a new food court.
Theaters #4 and #6 now feature Real D 3D projection capabilities, although for the most part 2D features are booked into these screens. The 35mm equipment has been removed.
Cinema #5, the largest auditorium (and former balcony of the original cinema) had Real 3D capabilities for about a year, but is now back to 35mm only. I have been told this may change soon as the entire complex may go digital next year, and #5 will be the first to be converted back.
“Bladerunner” is also incorrect about the twinning of the cinema. Originally the balcony and orchestra were divided making this a twin cinema for a few years, then the orchestra was divided making this a triple.
Would anyone in the nearby area be able to go to the cinema and photograph it head to toe? I’m hoping Edward can do some photos but it would be nice to have someone else with a SLR or high quality camera to do some photos. (I would gladly volunteer but I’m stuck up in Western Canada!)
I am fascinated by this cinema. It really is part of history and like Mark, I would love to see shots of every auditorium, lobby, auditorium hallways, booths and so forth.
Also, I really wanted to visit the Lougheed Triple (closed in 2000, I think?) and from what I could tell they were three huge cinemas, especially #1 which seated nearly 800 people.
I apologize for the error in my last posting. I just find it REALLY strange. On my visit there in 2008, I could not find any evidence that a third screen was ever there. Perhaps it was added to another section of the building but was not permitted to for one reason or another? Very, very odd.
Curious how this cinema is doing now, and if they put in new seats as they had promised. It really was a dive the last time I visited.
Do you have a seat count/screen size/pictures for the auditoriums?
Here is a link to some photos of the Empire Esplanade 6 (that name just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?) including auditoriums and seat counts.
Sean may have been getting this confused with the former Lougheed Mall three-plex, which had a large screen in the 700-seat region. This was also a cinema run by the small “A Theater Near You” chain.
Here are a set of photos I took while visiting in December. Just thinking of that center aisle, horrible common width screen and mono sound just gives me a headache. New seats are being installed in early December, and hopefully this is the start of many improvements.
Here is a small set of photos, including one of the nine micro-cinemas. Honestly, with all the AMC’s and Scotiabanks and Silvercities now in Toronto and with all of the “exclusive engagements” they open, I’m surprised this place is still open even as an art house cinema.
Here is a link to a Tyee article circa 2005 when the cinema closed. It has some rather interesting comments as well, even from one of the former managers who didn’t appear to like the place very much.
Cinema One was a glorious room. It was anywhere between 1031 and 1012 seats over the years (I believe some seats were removed for more wheelchair spots), and it pretty much filled up every Friday and Saturday night, no matter what the movie. Huge screen, incredible SRD sound system, the seats were okay and it was always a treat to see a movie there.
Just don’t let anyone tall sit in front of you…the sight lines were TERRIBLE in that cinema, and I think the unofficial rule over the years was for everyone to “lean down” when they saw a flick there. :)
It certainly is a twin. Sean’s post and Mike Rivest’s movie-theatre.org make mention a third screen was added, but there’s no visual evidence in this dump there ever was a third screen.
Has this cinema ever had a third screen? I visited this cinema for the first time this September and there was no evidence a third screen ever existed here (and if it went up in 1995, it would certainly still be here). This is a twin cinema through and through.
There IS evidence of obvious twinning, as both cinemas are long and narrow, with the dredded centre aisle, broken seats and a small common-width 1.85 screen. Both screens are still mono. I submitted photos to Cinematour and I hope they’ll go up soon.
As of right now, this place is a dump even though I was told the lobby was just renovated. New seating will be put in place this December (interestingly enough, #1 has just ONE of these new seats right in the back next to the wheelchair spot) and I hope they centre all the seats with an aisle around instead of right down the middle.
Cinemas 5 & 6 are from the old Coronet house. And yes, they were HEAVILY renovated as these two are the smallest in the complex. From what I have been told, the Coronet was a much larger theater, but during the Cineplex Odeon renovations they needed proper exiting from the top level #7 (the largest former THX house, at 664 seats) which cut drastically into the back of what is now the #5 cinema. If you look very closely in #6 you can still see some of the old Coronet details, even though they have been painted over.
This cinema is the main venue for the annual Vancouver International Film Festival and has far more seats than Scotiabank or Tinseltown. Every year I visit and photograph the heck out of this theater (many of the Cinematour photos Tim refers to are from my old digital camera!) and it is still a fun place to see a movie. Empire Theaters took over for Cineplex Odeon in 2005, yet you set foot in the building and NOTHING has changed. Same typical late 80’s Cineplex Odeon build. It’s a bit run-down, and many of the screens Dolby SR only. With that said, the Empire staff this year were incredible; very friendly and down to earth, but also hard workers.
It is also NOT a second run house. It charges $7.99 for a film and runs art house, smaller product along with mainstream product that the nearby Scotiabank and Tinseltown have stopped running, but it is still under first run policy.
Does anyone know if this cinema is still open? I can’t find any showtimes online
I visited this cinema on vacation last year and loved the huge screen, good (but not great) sound, comfy seats, sharp projection and a great price for rep cinema. It’s a great escape from reality. :)
Here is a nice photostream on Cinematour. I also have some photos of the Odeon, my favorite cinema in Victoria, to add to this site soon.
Although I’ve never been to Toronto, this cinema looked flat out amazing and it is a crime that it ever closed, let alone the horrible accident that cost a human life. The $700,000 cost to make this place accessible (does a ramp and a bathroom really cost that much?) to wheelchairs also screams of stupidity.
Here is a Flickr set of photos, as well as a Live Journal post that explains the closing. Does anyone have any more photos? Someone, somewhere, has to have photos of the massive screen in Uptown 1.
Furthermore, what were the two downstairs cinemas like? Were the screens large?
Very cool! Just a hair under the Alamo Drafthouse’s coolness, but I could definitely enjoy a movie in couchy comfiness.
Just how the HELL are they going to make digital projection watchable on that large of a screen? I even find 2k digital projection to be lousy on a medium size cinema screen!
It’s just that the cinemas themselves leave little to the imagination. Yeah, the lobby in this cinema is just as pretty as the Colossus and Scotiabank closer to me in Vancouver, but the auditoriums themselves are just black boxes with screens too close to the seats.
I also find it kind of crazy that this cinema sits across a highway from the AMC Interchange 30. 49 screens total!!!
Jurassic Park was shot in 1.85:1, not in the Cinemascope format. There were also no 70mm blow ups made for the film either, although extremely likely the North Hill was the first DTS venue in Calgary and it also played 70mm in its earlier years. I also doubt this cinema ever played any true three-strip Cinerama, rather 70mm prints projected through a curved lens, as I remember the auditorium did not have the Able and Charlie booth boxes on the sides nor any indiction that they were ever there.
I remember visiting this cinema while on vacation in August, 1999 a few weeks before it closed. It was a dreary, boring looking cinema on the outside at that point, as the adjacent mall was under heavy construction. The lobby was lifeless and drab, with hardly any staff around. “Star Wars Episode One” was playing there throughout the summer. The projector appeared to be on its last knees, as the image was bouncing like crazy (literally no tension in the gate) and staff refused to fix it when I asked because the cinema was about to close. The screen was also notoriously small after the original screen was removed. It was a common-width screen, which meant 1.85:1 films occupied a larger image area and the screen dropped down for scope features. “Episode 1” was shot in anamorphic, and it was kind of depressing seeing such a small, bouncy image in such a large room.
That said, the DTS sound was mind-blowingly awesome and probably the best sound I’ve ever heard in a non-IMAX theatre. Dialogue was clear, surrounds were powerful and effects filled the room, and the bass was deep, thunderous and rumbled the seats. It made up for what was a slightly disappointing single-screen cinema that could have been so much more.
In Vancouver, all single screens first-run:
Oh boy, you need to BE at a Drafthouse screening. It’s like no other moviegoing experience currently in the world. Besides the food and the drinks, they also strictly enforce their no-talking and cell phone policy, which has helped keep their sales up. The company has opened cinemas in Houston and San Antonio and no doubt they want to make a big expansion. So why not LA?
The National has plenty of room for kitchen and service space, along with providing, like you said, VIP sections and special seating. It might take that seat count from 1,100 down to about 400-500 or so, but as long as you kept that screen it would be worth it!
The Studio Movie Grills in the Dallas area appear, at least to me, to be more of a sports bar venue. I’d lean more towards the Drafthouse concept which I think would benefit greatly from the nearby campus who are looking for a fun night out.
As for the cinema’s current significance, I have an article I posted on efilmcritic.com about the National (the link is posted far up on this page) to contribute.
How familiar are you with the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin? (www.originalalamo.com) They are just opening their new location on 6th street in Austin this week, but if they were ever looking for a move out to the west coast, THIS would be the venue to do it in.
Drinks, specialty films run near the UCLA campus? The Alamo has been very good in promoting their product in their home city, so I’m sure they could promote around LA and the campus. Say it with me now…The Alamo Drafthouse at the National…The Alamo Drafthouse at the National…