Cinema V

5560 Rue Sherbrooke Ouste,
Montreal, QC H4A 1W3

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Opened on 19th May 1928, the Empress Theatre was taken over by Confederated Amusement in 1959 and was later bought out by United Theatres. It was designed in an Egyptian style (the only one in Canada) by architect Alcide Chausse and the splendid Egyptian interior was the work of interior designer Emmanuel Briffe.

In 1962, the theater stopped showing movies and it became a cabaret called the Royal Follies. In 1968, the theater was plained down and divided along the balcony and became the Cinema V.

In 1974, the theater briefly changed its name to The Home of Blue Movies.

In 1975, the policy changed to repertory and became the Montreal home of the cult classic "The Rocky Horror Picture Show".

Famous Players took over in 1988. Sadly, a fire damaged and closed the theater in 1992 and it never reopened again.

Contributed by Mike Rivest, Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 15 comments)

Azzaelea
Azzaelea on October 15, 2009 at 11:33 pm

I read a newspaper article posted on Empress’s door that said they’d had to struggle to pay $400,000 (?) in backed taxes. They managed to save themselves at the 11th hour.

The Save the Empress Cultural Centre website is gone. Are they still waiting on funding or is this project dead?

Azzaelea
Azzaelea on November 12, 2009 at 3:30 pm

The new website of the Empress Cultural Centre Project—>
http://empresscentre.org/home/homeE.html

A link to a video on th Empress Cultural Centre, former Cinema V—>
http://www.vennettilli.com/Empress.mov

ngolets
ngolets on February 8, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Back in the late ‘70s, when Cinema V was a going concern run by Ricky Friedman, it was a regular haunt of Montreal’s english-speaking, movie-loving community. One day I explored some of the building’s hidden corners with the writer Dane Lanken (husband of Anna McGarrigle) for an article we worked on together for the theatre’s program. We felt a bit like Howard Carter when he discovered and opened the tomb of King Tut; upstairs in the wings behind the curtains we turned on a dim light to see painted hieroglyphics on the walls (at least those sections that hadn’t been covered with acoustic panelling) and a large mask of Tut high on a frieze â€" regrettably smashed through years before to allow for an air exhaust pipe to pass through the wall. Fragments of the plaster mask lay shattered on the floor. I think I still have a copy of a vaudeville program from the 30s that we found tossed with others down a stairwell in the adjoining office and dressing room wing. It was fantastic.

Best of luck with the project.

IIgs
IIgs on August 31, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Well, here I am, reporting back in on the progress of The Empress exactly 4 years later. And what progress has there been? sadly, none whatsoever. Excluding the small office on the ground floor, and a failed attempt at repairing the roof, the theater has sat abandoned, neglected and crumbling all these years. The roof has been leaking and undoubtedly caused further deterioration of the building.

There’s been much talk, promises and announcements made in terms of finally reopening the theater, but nothing concrete has happened. The latest news is the Quebec government is refusing to grant ANY funding (it is after all, serving the English community), casting serious doubt about the future of this project. There are currently reports the board of directors are planning on giving up on the project entirely/killing it, and allow the city to re-claim ownership of the building in November.

My prediction is this theater will suffer the same fate as the soon-to-be demolished Seville theater in the coming years, or at best, be converted into private condo housing. It would be nice to be wrong but I’m not optimistic.

rivest266
rivest266 on August 31, 2010 at 7:44 pm

Grand opening ad is at
View link

2010 article is at View link

rivest266
rivest266 on February 22, 2011 at 5:35 pm

This may reopen as a art cinema
View link
(In French)

IIgs
IIgs on February 25, 2011 at 2:10 am

Unfortunately this is yet another example of more talk and ideas, but no action. Perhaps “day dreaming” is a better word for these latest plans, the only mention of it is in Metro (a free tabloid-like French paper) but nothing in the Montreal Gazette or local TV news stations such as CTV News. When the mainstream media outlets ignore the story, that is not a good sign.

Since I last commented, temporary metal fencing has been placed around most of the building. Either to protect it from vandalism or the danger that pieces of it may fall to the ground as it further decays. Something similar was don with theSeville theatre in its final few years.

IIgs
IIgs on June 17, 2013 at 10:55 am

Now 2 and half years later…

In December 2011 the building was seized by the city of Montreal, with the ground floor office space emptied and vacated. The building now sits completely abandoned, again. The only activity these days is graffiti artists routinely vandalizing it with spray paint.

An organization called Cinema NDG has proposed a $12 million dollar project that would re-open a 4 screen movie theatre in the building but we won’t know if this will go through until December 2013. Until something actually happens, it’s just more empty promises and talk…

ohserase
ohserase on June 17, 2014 at 2:53 pm

I’ll believe it when it actually happens: http://cultmontreal.com/2013/08/cinema-v-ndg-will-probably-reopen-in-2015/

IIgs
IIgs on June 17, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Well here I am again, a year later, to the day. The December 2013 deadline for financing was missed and now been pushed back to October 2014. My best guess is it will be extended repeatedly throughout the next year or two until Cinema NDG finally forfeits their plans entirely.

Still no activity at the site as of June 2014. It remains boarded up, abandoned and deteriorating. Talk is one thing, action is another.

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