Eglinton Theatre

400 Eglinton Avenue W.,
Toronto, ON M5N 1A2

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Eglinton Marquee

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Designed by Kaplan and Sprachman, the Eglinton Theatre was opened on April 15, 1936 with Jack Oakie in “King of Burlesque”. It was operated by Famous Players throughout its cinematic life.

After the Ontario Human Rights Commission fought and won a lawsuit to make it wheelchair accessable, Famous Players decided to close this beautiful Art Deco style theatre in 2003.

The Eglinton Theatre has now been renovated into a rental hall for banquets and special events and has been renamed the “Eglinton Grand.”

Contributed by Chad Irish, Griff Howe, Dave Thom, edward

Recent comments (view all 27 comments)

srcushing
srcushing on December 28, 2007 at 5:09 pm

Funny about the Hello Dolly movie. In the back behind the screen there were dressing rooms for the staff (not the modern ones but the ones used in the 30’s and 40’s. In a dusty pile in one of these rooms was a stack of ticket stubs from Hello Dolly. I took a few for myself and left the rest for the sake of history. Probably gone now.

SilentToronto
SilentToronto on January 12, 2008 at 9:24 am

Have a look at a tribute to the Eglinton Theatre I recently wrote, including an ad for the opening night!

KingBiscuits
KingBiscuits on April 29, 2008 at 11:17 am

According to fromscripttodvd.com, The Sound Of Music ran 146 weeks.

PeterD
PeterD on July 23, 2009 at 9:10 am

A favourite of mine when I worked as a projectionist and also as a movie-goer. The Eglinton’s magnificent auditorium is somewhat similar to the Zigfeld in New York (where most of NYC’s world premieres occur). Massive screen, and the best THX installation in the city by far.

Before the THX work was done, the booth had the most unique machines in the city – Bauer U2’s. Big old German workhorse 35/70mm projectors that put a picture on the screen and nailed it there. I forget what bulbs they were running (4.5kW @ 150A, IIRC), but the gates needed to be water-cooled, not unlike a drive-in! The few times I worked there it was after the Bauers had gone and, IIRC, were replaced by a pair of 35/70mm Simplex XLs running 6000' reels.

Torontonian
Torontonian on October 19, 2012 at 11:56 pm

The Eglinton was also, for several years, a Cinerama movie house. The Cinerama technology required adjustments to the house and removal of several rows of seats but it did successfully in showing Cinerama product.

thoive
thoive on April 10, 2014 at 7:52 pm

This theatre is quite near to my heart, I attended the Canadian premiere of the first Harry Potter movie there as a 10-year-old in 2001. It was the first one-screen cinema I had ever been to. What a shame it’s no longer operational.

sask
sask on June 27, 2014 at 11:35 am

I enjoyed reading about the theatre, I was looking for information on it. My parents met while working there 50 years ago. We are planning a 50th anniv. celebration and I was looking into some of history. Does anyone know if there is a way to find out more? Thanks.

Coate
Coate on November 12, 2014 at 11:23 am

Here’s an article from a few days ago published in the Toronto Star that some may find of interest. The Eglinton and other Toronto cinemas are mentioned (and some might recognize a Cinema Treasures contributor quoted in the piece).

Find Toronto’s favourite movies

We Torontonians like to think of ourselves as visionary sophisticates, the kind of people who would prefer to boldly reach for the stars, rather than doggedly climb every mountain.

Our choice of favourite movies suggests otherwise. I thought I was on safe ground last week when I declared 2001: A Space Odyssey to be T.O.’s all-time most popular cinematic experience, going by what two sources (and personal memory) indicated was a four-year run at the old Glendale theatre on Avenue Rd. I believed that to be the longest a movie has ever played in one theatre in the city for a continuous run.

Tim Elliott, a Toronto movie buff and collector, contacted me with a contrary assertion: The Sound of Music edged 2001for popularity honours. The Sound of Music, a musical in which Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer climb every mountain that love, geography and the Nazis hurl at them, played for 144 weeks at the Eglinton Theatre, which still stands but no longer operates as a movie house. The film made toes tap and tugged at heartstrings at the Eglinton from March 10, 1965 to Dec. 21, 1967.

A few months after The Sound of Music closed, 2001: A Space Odyssey opened at the Glendale theatre on Avenue Rd. The outer space adventure billed as “the ultimate trip” seared eyeballs and dazzled brains there for a total of 127 weeks, roughly 2.5 years, from May 30, 1968 to Nov. 3, 1970 — and it screened in the widescreen marvel known as Cinerama, no less. The Glendale no longer exists, sadly, having been demolished in the 1970s and replaced by a car dealership.

“These were both the longest single engagements in the city, as far as I know,” Elliott, 62, told me via email.

He bases this on his study of movie ads in the Toronto Star and other newspapers, “a hobby of mine since seeing my first grown-up film Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961 as a kid and falling in love with Audrey Hepburn and the movies and movie theatres.

“In my basement I have file drawers filled with the movie ads from all of the Toronto newspapers from the ’60s on. I also used to keep lists of most of the theatres of Toronto and write down each movie that played in each one and how long they played. Unfortunately, I misplaced those lists during a move and haven’t seen them in years.”

But he managed to keep a lot of stats on movie engagements, including these other long runs in Toronto:

Ben-Hur (77 weeks): Dec. 23, 1959 to May 4, 1961 at the University.

Funny Girl (68 weeks): Oct. 3, 1968 to Jan. 22, 1970 at the Odeon Fairlawn.

Doctor Zhivago (61 weeks): Oct. 16, 1966 to Dec. 21, 1967 at the Nortown (it followed a 28-week run at the University, for a total of 89 weeks).

My Fair Lady (60 weeks): Oct. 28, 1964 to Dec. 21, 1965 at the University (it moved to the Nortown on Dec. 25 for a seven-week run that continued to Feb. 9, 1966).

Fiddler on the Roof (57 weeks): Nov. 10, 1971 until Dec. 12, 1972 at the University.

MAS*H (53 weeks): March 27, 1970 to April 8, 1971 at the Hollywood.

There have also been long engagements of close to a year or more for the original Star Wars, Oliver!, Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines, The Gods Must Be Crazy and La Cage Aux Folles, among others. Note that these achievements were all notched mainly during the 1960s and ’70s, before the widespread adoption of colour TV, multiplex theatres and home video. Then came the Internet and VOD (video on demand), which changed things further still. Most of these records also precede the blockbuster era, where it became commonplace to open a movie at many theatres at once, rather than have it take up residence in a single prestigious theatre for a “road show” run. It’s almost impossible now to think of movies having a lengthy run in a single Toronto theatre, although there are exceptions. Avatar ran in the Scotiabank theatre for nearly six months, from Dec. 18, 2009 to May 27, 2010, and it remained in the Toronto market at least until June of that year, says Cineplex spokesman Mike Langdon. He adds there’s nothing to stop a film from setting a record. “For us, we will leave a film on screen as long as there is demand from the guests to see it. Our guests determine how long a run actually is.” I recall that Titanic also had a very lengthy run in Toronto, perhaps as long as Avatar, both films having been directed by Ontario-born James Cameron. Cineplex doesn’t have ready access to screening stats, and neither does Paramount, the studio that released Titanic. But the intrepid Astrid Lange in the Star’s library found that it played at the Uptown theatre from Dec. 19, 1997 to June 30, 1998. It moved from the Uptown to the Uptown Backstage on July 1 for another few weeks. Sad to think that most of the single-screen theatres where records were set are now demolished or otherwise unavailable: Uptown, University, Odeon Fairlawn, Nortown, Hollywood, Eglinton. All gone. It comes as no surprise that all of these movies are mainstream crowd-pleasers, although 2001: A Space Odyssey also qualifies as an art house head-scratcher. But three of Toronto’s all-time favourites are space movies: 2001, Avatar and Stars Wars. So maybe we’re visionaries after all.

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