Odeon Carlton

18 Carlton Street,
Toronto, ON M5B

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rivest266 on May 20, 2017 at 11:11 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

Mike_Blakemore on April 23, 2015 at 11:48 am

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

DavidZornig on April 23, 2015 at 5:02 am

1963 photo added courtesy of Mike T. Cancemi.

rivest266 on January 7, 2012 at 12:53 am

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

AJOHMSS on January 12, 2011 at 10:03 pm

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

View link

kingswaytheatre on September 1, 2010 at 2:55 am

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!

kencmcintyre on March 26, 2010 at 12:42 am

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

Torontonian on March 7, 2010 at 12:55 am

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).

telliott on March 7, 2010 at 12:40 am

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 January 28, 2010 at 8:28 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.

asylumbythelake on August 6, 2009 at 10:40 pm

I recently found a postcard of the Odeon Theatre. You can view it at View link The postcard indicates that the address was 20 Carlton Street.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 13, 2009 at 2:49 am

The Odeon-Toronto was featured in an illustrated article in the April 2, 1949, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. This Odeon, like many others of the period, was designed by architect Jay I. English, who died before its completion.

The Odeon opened September 9, 1948. The first film shown was “Oliver Twist.” Boxoffice, in its issue of September 11, 1948, gave the seating capacity as 2,400, but the 1949 article said the auditorium seated 2,231.

mrchangeover on January 9, 2008 at 3:10 pm

Here is a rare view of the auditorium from the stage:

View link

mrchangeover on October 5, 2006 at 1:44 pm

Here is a link to some photos of the Odeon Carlton:


Photo sources: Province of Ontario Archives and the Globe and Mail newspaper.

mrchangeover on October 2, 2006 at 1:25 am

I recently found a 1968 newspaper interview with Victor Nowe, the manager of the Odeon Carlton for 15 years at that time.
Nowe said the Carlton box office would net one million dollars that fiscal year……more than any other movie theatre in Canada.
He said the Carlton took in $79,000 in one week when “Thunderball” played there. That was also a record at the time for a single film in any Canadian movie theatre. The record before that of just over $59,000 was also set at the Carlton for “Goldfinger”.
Nowe also mentioned that the restaurant in the theatre was closed in 1964 because Ontario’s archaic liquor laws back then prohibited theatres from having a liquor licence. He wanted to run a “class” restaurant and said that could not be done without a liquor licence.
I also found a clipping in a 1976 Theatre Organ magazine about the Odeon Carlton’s organ. The original plans were to buy and re-build a Wurlitzer from the Metropolitan Theatre in Boston but the article says internal politics and Odeon’s supply house made it impossible to do anything other than buy a new instrument. Bids were received from several companies and eventually Hillgreen-Lane won the contract. Stewart Duncan, the writer of the article, says the Carlton had four organists from its opening in 1948 to when it was closed: Al Bollington, Bobby Jones, Dorothy Bromby and Colin Corbett.

Dunsmore on March 1, 2006 at 6:01 am

A film at the Odeon Carlton always figured into a visit to Toronto and Colin Corbett’s playing into the James Bond themes was a treat. After listening to the Hilgreen-Lane pipe organ I would head down the street to the Royal York Hotel and try to coax theatre-organ sounds out of the 5-manual, 105-rank Casavant pipe organ in the Concert Hall. Sadly both of those organs are gone from Toronto now and the fools of Toronto are spending millions of dollars to build an opera house when they could have had the magnificent Odeon Carlton for a mere dollar!

edward on April 29, 2004 at 3:59 am

The auditorium held 2,300 seats (per Palaces of the Night by John Lindsay). In the auditorium, hundreds of hidden lights contantly changed colors on the smooth plastered walls. The patented lighting panel known as the ‘Thyratron’ ran the light show. The enormous 2 ½ ton sculptered curtain rose slowly with each swag controlled by a separate motor.
Although Canada’s most spectacular post WWII movie theatre, only a few people came to the last screening in 1974. The organist, Colin Corbett played an emotional farewell. The theatre was so well constructed that it bankrupt the wrecking company that brought it down. It was similar in design to London’s Leicester Square Odeon and evoked the design of the Queen Mary and Normandie ocean liners.
There is a fantastic cross-section drawing in Mr. Lindsay’s book showing its numerous and large public spaces.
The site is currently occupied but a plain office tower which houses in part, the offices of the Toronto International Film Festival (2 Carlton Street).
The ‘new’ Carlton Cinemas (20 Carlton Street), just East of the former Odeon site, show a good mix of first run independent and foreign movies. However, these are the shoe-box type of multiplex screening rooms built by Cineplex/Odeon in the 1980’s. Projection and sound is average and the decor is awful and outdated. A few of the smaller screens are rear projection. A nearby university uses the theaters for lecture halls during th day. Definitely NOT a Cinema Treasure.

projectophile on April 29, 2004 at 2:55 am

I think the Odeon Carlton seating of 3200 is a little generous. It was more like 2550.
I remember going to see the latest James Bond movie that always opened at the Carlton around Christmas. What a delight it was to be there. Colin Corbett provided an organ concert before the movie. The packed house cheered and clapped when the organ rose and then went back down after the performance.
The Odeon Carlton was very much like some of the larger British Odeons. The showmanship was quite good considering the union rules at the time which required a member of the stagehands union to open and close the immense curtain. The projectionist used a buzzer to let the stagehand know when to operate the curtains!

I loved the Odeon Carlton. Even in the late 60’s you felt you were getting a good show in a theatre that was still quite modern.
Unfortunately the Carlton was sitting on prime property, just down the street from Maple Leaf Gardens. The land was worth many times more than the theatre. When the inevitable came I watched sadly as the wreckers ball destroyed of one of the finest movie theatres we ever had in Canada.