Odeon Carlton

18 Carlton Street,
Toronto, ON M5B

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Odeon Carlton

The Odeon Toronto opened 9th September 1949 with the North American Premiere of the Rank Organisation’s production of “Oliver Twist”, directed by David Lean and starring Robert Newton & Alec Guinness. British film stars Patricia Roc and Trevor Howard attended ‘in person’. It was described as the “Showplace of the Dominion”. It was an enormous theatre with two spacious lobbies on the main floor and another one on the balcony level. Up the magnificent staircase at the first landing was a restaurant overlooking the lower level. It was equipped with a Hillgreen-Lane 3Manual/19Ranks organ which was opened by Al Bollington.

It was part of the Odeon building which housed the offices of Odeon Theatres Canada. It’s name was changed to the Odeon Carlton in 1956, and it premiered some of the biggest films of the day. For years it showed reserved seat roadshow films such as “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Oliver”. It also was home of James Bond movies for several years and even had a few Cinerama movies starting with “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” in 1963.

Sadly, in later years it could no longer attract the big crowds and it’s last attraction before closing in 1973 was “White Lighting”. It was offered to the city of Toronto for one dollar as a performing arts centre, but they passed saying it didn’t have enough room for a backstage area. It was a real loss for movie lovers and for the city of Toronto.

It was demolished later that year and replaced with an apartment building. Ironically, next door Cineplex Odeon opened a nine-screen art house, also called the Carlton, so the name still lives on.

Contributed by Tim Elliott

Recent comments (view all 20 comments)

Torontonian on January 28, 2010 at 12:28 pm

The Odeon Carlton was managed by Victor Neow and he was a
three-time Quigley award winner. One time he had the
technical students at Ryerson Institute build a scale
model of the bridge featured in the film Bridge on the
River Kwai. It filled half the lobby!

Another time, Victor had James Bond’s Aston Martin for
several weeks in the lobby. That really drew in the

The beginning of the end of the Carlton was when Victor
Neow disagreed about the ticket pricing of Oliver by
Sir Carol Reed. He wanted it to be priced like Disney
movies of the day (children $.50, anytime). Odeon
thought differently. It wanted reserved seats at
$2.00 and $2.50. The film didn’t do well probably
because if it were a birthday treat for a child, it
could be a financial burden.

Victor Neow resigned soon after that affair and went
on to write a book about the films of Joan Crawford.

From that time onward, the Carlton died a slow death
showing less than first-run box office smash hits.

telliott on March 6, 2010 at 4:40 pm

I don’t agree with your statement that the Oscar winning film “Oliver!” didn’t do well simply because it was released as a reserved seat, roadshow engagement all over, not just Toronto and not just because Odeon didn’t agree with the pricing. After it’s run at the Carlton, it moved over to the Odeon Danforth where it ran for many more months, so I wouldn’t say that “it didn’t do well”.

Torontonian on March 6, 2010 at 4:55 pm

The Carlton took in about $10 to 15,000 per week during the Oliver
run. During most other weeks with other films the take was in
the $40,000 range. The Bond films were in excess of $50,000.

The Carlton’s house nut was $25,000.

Other theatre managers of the day like H Taylor, C Bolton and
B Goodwin all agree that the pricing structure was a great

The Odeon Danforth is a much smaller venue and the house nut
is reduced to about 12,500 per week (in those days).

kencmcintyre on March 25, 2010 at 5:42 pm

There was an article about the Carlton in Boxoffice, May 1958:

kingswaytheatre on August 31, 2010 at 6:55 pm

The Humber Cinema will re-open Oct 29th 2010!
www.humbermovies.com – The site will be up soon.
More info coming soon! If only we could bring back the Odeon Carlton too!

AJOHMSS on January 12, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Found this picture of the Carlton at City of Toronto archives.
This is a very good view of the marquee.

View link

rivest266 on January 6, 2012 at 4:53 pm

September 9th, 1949 grand opening ad has been posted in the photo section.

DavidZornig on April 22, 2015 at 9:02 pm

1963 photo added courtesy of Mike T. Cancemi.

Mike_Blakemore on April 23, 2015 at 3:48 am

Hmm. Its amazing how great buildings are replaced by total mediocrity

rivest266 on May 20, 2017 at 3:11 pm

A major article about this cinema (En Français) can be found in the November 1948 issue of the Architecture-bâtiment-construction. http://collections.banq.qc.ca/ark:/52327/2673612

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