University Theatre

100 Bloor Street West,
Toronto, ON M5S 1M4

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Soon after the University opened

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened on March 25, 1949, the University Theatre was one of the first movie theaters in North America to not only feature 70mm projection, but also a THX Dolby Surround Sound system. It was a good-sized theater with a balcony so large that there was a snack bar on it as well as on the main floor.

It was a very popular theater for its entire run and screened several significant premieres, including "Apocalypse Now" and a special double bill of "Star Wars" and "The Empire Strikes Back" with a rare preview for the trailer of "Return of the Jedi" before it came out and was known as "Revenge of the Jedi."

Despite a petition of over 25,000 people, it was closed when the property value became too great to continue operating as a theater. The University Theatre was demolished in 1986 and, today, only its rebuilt facade remains, fronting a newly constructed retail structure.

Contributed by J.D. Lafrance

Recent comments (view all 35 comments)

socal09 on December 11, 2010 at 10:21 pm

JerryR: You’re very perceptive and correct! The image in my Nov2/09 post is indeed the Imperial and not the University movie theatre. The image is mislabelled on the City of Toronto Archives website (scroll halfway down the page):
View link

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 16, 2011 at 4:17 am

Here are fresh links for the July 2, 1949, Boxoffice items posted above by ken mc and Gerald A. DeLuca:

Cover photo of the main floor lounge.

Page one of the two-page article about the University Theatre in the Modern Theatre section of the same issue.

socal09 on January 16, 2011 at 7:55 am

How sad that this beautiful theatre was partially demolished, the remaining facade left to rot and then converted into a Pottery Barn.

William Mewes
William Mewes on March 21, 2011 at 9:19 am

I found this on “Flickr"
A night time photo from December 1969

View link

JohnnyCool on June 10, 2011 at 3:35 am

I’m writing an article about Apocalypse Now to coincide with the UK Blu-ray release on Monday (13th June). Anyone have or know where I might find a photo of the facade of the University from the initial run of Apocalypse Now there in August 1979?

Jon Lidolt
Jon Lidolt on June 10, 2011 at 7:55 am

In the early 60’s Richard Burton was in Toronto appearing onstage in the John Gielgud production of Hamlet. One morning Burton’s new movie Becket was being screened in 70mm at the University for the local critics. As the lights dimmed and the film began, Elizabeth Taylor quietly took her place at the back of the theatre to watch her new husband’s new movie. No one in the audience even knew she was there.

CSWalczak on May 22, 2012 at 1:04 am

Scroll down on this webpage to see a picture of the University during the run of “Cleopatra” in 1963.

DavidDymond on March 16, 2013 at 11:20 am

This theatre’s first Manager was the late A. E. “Bert” Brown and they desired to get this theatre open in time for President John J.Fitzgibbon’s birthday. This theatre was one of the first theatres to have the modern hanging urinals and the Famous Players Head of Purchasing Jules Wolfe called down to Chicago and asked them when they were going “to have the hanging pisspots ready.” This theatre had NO right angles in it and was Famous Players most prestige theatre in downtown Toronto!!

telliott on March 16, 2013 at 12:05 pm

…and David I still miss it to this day. All these years later.

Coate on August 15, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Thirty-five years ago today, Toronto’s University was among three North American theaters to open Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” in a reserved-performance, guaranteed-seat exclusive engagement. A 35th anniversary retrospective article was posted today at The Digital Bits.

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