Rio Theatre

373 Yonge Street,
Toronto, ON M5B

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Big Nickel Theatre, 1913

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Big Nickel Theatre was opened in 1913. By 1922 it had been renamed National Theatre and was renamed Rio Theatre in 1943. It closed in 1991.

Contributed by Christopher Walczak

Recent comments (view all 21 comments)

JCharles
JCharles on December 3, 2010 at 5:52 pm

The closure date is incorrect. The Rio shuttered sometime during the spring of 1991. The last time I walked by the theatre when it was in operation, they were showing THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and DANCES WITH WOLVES, the only time I had ever known the Rio to run less than four movies at once.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on December 3, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Thanks for that for that correction.

Here’s an updated link to the picture of the Rio that I posted on June 5, 2008: View link

AJOHMSS
AJOHMSS on December 23, 2010 at 5:31 am

The picture posted by Grainger on Oct. 19, 2008 is from the summer of 1973.
That is when Toronto turned Yonge Street into a pedestrian mall.

SilentToronto
SilentToronto on January 22, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Hey all, here’s a shot of the Rio in 1985 with Missing In Action 2 on the bill. It actually opened as the Big Nickel in 1913 as per a contemporaneous article in Construction Magazine.

Rio
Rio on January 27, 2011 at 4:39 pm

My family owned and operated the Rio from 1949 until my grandmother finally closed it down in 1991. It’s no nice to read that people still remember it! I still have nearly all the movie posters that we kept when the building was sold. I’ve had them now for twenty years, but I have never done anything with them. I am now preparing our first public exhibit of some of that collection, which will be somewhere in downtown Toronto. I’ll have more details in the coming weeks, but if any of you have any movie poster requests, please e-mail me. Stay tuned!

William Mewes
William Mewes on July 15, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Hi Rio ! Thank You for posting and please keep us updated.

Gergs
Gergs on November 27, 2011 at 2:45 am

Hey all, I’m currently writing a paper on some grindhouse cinemas in Toronto and am looking for detailed stories of experiences at the Rio in the 1980s. If this sounds up your alley, please email me at

Though certain cinemas are bringing this type of “trio at the Rio” back, I don’t know if I will ever experience a cinema like one must have experienced a grindhouse theatre in the 70s-80s.

Rio
Rio on November 27, 2011 at 3:12 am

We’re posting shots of some of our amazing Rio posters here: http://www.facebook.com/RioMoviePosters. There are still a few boxes we haven’t even catalogued yet!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 27, 2011 at 11:14 am

The architect of the Big Nickel Theatre was John Wilson Siddall. I will upload a photo of the facade as it originally appeared in 1913, from the trade journal Construction.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 25, 2013 at 3:01 am

This house had become the National Theatre by 1922, nine years after it had opened as the Big Nickel Theatre. Manager S. Garr’s promotional efforts on behalf of Universal’s feature Robinson Crusoe were noted in the July 29, 1922, issue of the studio’s house organ, Universal Weekly.

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