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The Downtown was before my day, it had already been converted to retail but I have memories of it as a kid but was never inside. I remember the Coronet showing skin flicks from the mid 70’s when I started hanging out downtown on weekends and watching movies all weekend then Odeon dumped it and it ran independently until it closed as a cinema. The Yonge was great and I could always get in there for “Restricted” double bills even though I was only 14 or 15 at the time and the program at the Yonge usually changed every week (sometimes they’d hold a program over for a second week) so it was bliss in there seeing all those cool films that I loved. Saw Fantasia in stereo sound for the first time after the Yonge “renovation” & rename to Elgin theatre plus Abba the Movie & The Last Waltz (all in stereo sound too). Then Famous Players dropped the first-run policy and went back to running action house double bills until it closed in the early 80’s. Fun fact: The Yonge was the Toronto cinema that opened the Texas Chainsaw Massacre exclusively in fall of 1974 on a double bill with “The Man Who Betrayed the Mafia” (also a drive-in too I think). Funny how what is now a classic film was dropped in to run one week – it ended up playing for several weeks before being moved over to the Imperial Six.
Ignore the troll. Here’s the story, I have worked for Famous Players (now Cineplex) since the late 1980’s. A human rights complaint was made at another downtown theatre for not being accessible, the ruling came down that cinemas had to be made accessible (including restrooms) and they had two years to do it. The cost was prohibitive in many theatres plus the Uptown was an expensive old theatre to keep operating so Famous closed all of their theatres that they owned and sold off the properties and once leases expired in locations that they leased they didn’t renew and closed them too. Other casualties of this era in downtown/uptown Toronto were the Plaza, Hollywood, Eglinton & Sheraton theatres. Their new “brand” theatres were built on properties with much better leasing terms and were much more efficient (read, profitable) to run. The Uptown was demolished despite an attempt to get it designated a heritage building but because there are two surviving examples of architect Thomas Lamb’s theatres in Toronto, The Ed Mirvish Theatre (formally Canon Theatre/Pantages Theatre/Imperial Six cinemas/Imperial Theatre) and the Elgin Wintergarden Theatres (formally the the Yonge theatre in the late 60’s/70’s early 80’s and before that, Loew’s Yonge Street theatre) so the heritage designation was not granted and was demolished to make way for a condominium development – the Uptown condos. The Uptown was a great place to see movies and a favorate for movie goers. Each year TIFF paid rental rates for the theatres they used during the film festival and theatre staff and management operated during the theatres along with an army of TIFF volunteers and paid festival reps. who pretty much took charge of all front-of-house operations.
The Don Mills cinema was in the Don Mills Centre (built 1955) just east of Don Mills Rd., south of Lawrence Ave. It was a big 700 or 800 seat cinema built in the mid 1960’s. They built a second smaller cinema (perhaps 500 seats) in the early to mid-70’s. The complex closed around 1984-1985 when the new Fairview cinema complex was built and the cinema complex (which was separate from the mall) was demolished shortly afterward for more parking. The Don Mills Centre was enclosed in 1978 but eventually fell into disrepair and was mostly demolished in 2006. The whole area has since been re-developed.
After Odeon dropped it as a porn cinema it went through several changes in ownership. It was real bad by the late 70’s, entire rows of seats were missing or just laying willy-nilly on the ground. Soon after it closed for a short period and someone dumped some money into it. They actually had Polaroid photos taped up in the box office showing how nice it was inside now (photos of the repaired/refurbished seats, new screen, carpets, curtains with nice lighting, snack bar etc.). It was tacky but I guess it had developed a bad reputation & they wanted to break it. I was in a few times after the reno. (i.e. Frankenstein) and I noticed that there were no seats left in the balcony. Presumably they took what they needed from up there to fix the seats on the main level, maybe sold the rest off but the balcony was closed off and never used again.
I live in Toronto too and won’t go to the Varsity cinemas either for the same reason. What’s up with the dark picture on the screens there? It’s too bad, it used to be my favorate cinema downtown.
I was a teenager when Raiders opened on June 12th 1981. I worked at the Eglinton Theatre in mid-town Toronto – a large, beautiful single screen art deco cinema with a huge screen that is now an “event venue” (at least it didn’t meet the wrecking ball). We had a 70MM print with an incredible blasting soundtrack (even by today’s standards, it’s still a great sound mix) and ran five shows a day until Labour Day (first week of September in Canada) then we went to four shows a day until we opened “Reds” in early December of ‘81. There were no doors on the auditorium so no matter where we were we could hear the soundtrack and we all got to know every line in that movie. I could put on the DVD and still recite every line to this day! Raiders is still one of the great action-adventure films of our time, and after working hundreds and hundreds of screenings, I still like the damn thing! I also remember that we used to have fun when it first opened looking for “mistakes” like continuity errors and such, we found a couple of dozen!
Raiders brings back such great memories of working at the Eglinton Theatre in the early 80’s and that time of my life.
I saw Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein in 3D at the Coronet too, about 1981! It was on a triple bill with Slap Shot and The Fog. The picture on the screen for Frankenstein was pretty small compared to The Fog & Slap Shot but the 3D sure did work good! The Coronet was my favorate grindhouse cinema in the late 70’s/early 80’s after they dropped their porn programme around ‘77 or '78. The Rio was a smelly, moldy smelling dump but the Biltmore was OK except it had some pretty dodgy charactors in there sometimes.
Good memories as a stupid, fearless teenager who loved movies.
Just found this thread. I thought the cinema was larger than this, I guess memory doesn’t serve me well. 16MM was very noisy here, you could hear the projector clattering away from above. What I remember most about this place in the 80’s were the dark washrooms. One or two 6 watt orange bulbs illuminated the whole room which always freaked me out.
Many Odeon Cinemas throughout Toronto, the suburbs and southern Ontario had Sensurround installed, it was not exclusive to the Fairlawn however there were non-Sensurround cinemas too.
I think the cinema was twinned about 1976. I remember seeing Earthquake there and I know it was a single then but when I saw Midway I’m sure it had been cut up. They played Midway in both cinemas and started both Sensurround prints at exactly the same time so that the sound bleeding from one cinema to another wouldn’t be noticed as they were practically in sync with each other, give or take a second or two.
The Fox is a great cinema, the guys running it clearly have a real passion for the place.
I saw Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein last night and the print was pretty good. It’s an old film from 1973 and this is an original print so I hardly expected it to be in pristine condition. It had a few base scratches (not noticeable), dirt on the reel changes but it wasn’t faded and it looked fabulous. The crowd was great too, they were really into the film and having fun.
I hope these guys can make a go of this cinema, it’s got lots of charm, a great sized screen, great highback rocker seats, digital sound and it’s in a great neighbourhood. Support the Fox!!