Eglinton Theatre

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

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Coate
Coate on November 12, 2014 at 1:23 pm

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.

sask
sask on June 27, 2014 at 1:35 pm

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.

thoive
thoive on April 10, 2014 at 9:52 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.

Torontonian
Torontonian on October 20, 2012 at 1:56 am

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.

PeterD
PeterD on July 23, 2009 at 11:10 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.

KingBiscuits
KingBiscuits on April 29, 2008 at 1:17 pm

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

SilentToronto
SilentToronto on January 12, 2008 at 11:24 am

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

srcushing
srcushing on December 28, 2007 at 7:09 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.

telliott
telliott on July 20, 2007 at 7:34 pm

The Eglinton showed a lot of Reserved seat Roadshows during the 60s including, Beckett, Doctor Dolittle,Finian’s Rainbow, Hello Dolly! and of course the record breaking 144 week run of “The Sound of Music” from March 10, 1965 to December of 1967.

srcushing
srcushing on July 20, 2007 at 4:52 pm

I managed this theatre from April 1998 to April 1999. I was rummaging through the filing cabinet one day and found a scrap book from the opening. There was a full page add with a picture of the theatre and around it the names and logos of all the companies that helped build it.

The first movie was the King of Bulesque and in the opening night picture you can see the line up head west around the corner to where the Scotia Bank is now.
There was no concession when it opened, and the area by the office where the fire place is was a smoking area. The room behind the screen had stairs to two wings, a womans and a mens dressing room. Lockers behind the screen had some old uniforms that no one ever took or moved. They were a part of the place. When it opened there was an orchestra pit infront of the screen, you could get to in after it was covered up by crawling through the duct work.

I had the pleasure of being the manager during the movie shoot for Gene Wilder’s Murder in a Small Town. The theatre was filled with people in 30’s cloths watching the last 2 minutes of Angels with Dirty faces (which I got to do the projection for). On the street they had old cars and the fronts of the buildings on both sides of Eglinton were dressed up to look like stores from the 30’s, it was a trip to the past. If you ever watch the movie the first 2 minutes of the film were shot at the Eglinton. It took 12 hours to set up, shoot and tear down for thoes 2 minutes. It was a lot of fun.

The Theatre showed Titanic for it’s full run including the date the Titanic actually sank.

The Eglinton had handicapped access via the back doors, but I guess that was not good enough. It probably could have been grandfathered if Famous Players had of taken up the fight, but take it from someone who was there 3 years before the closing, the Eglliton’s fate was sealed as soon as the Silver City and Yonge and Eglinton went up and the final nail was Famous Players purchase of Canada Square.

Oddly enough when it was built the Eglinton was not a first run theatre it was a nieghbourhood theatre that took in films after theatres like the University and the Uptown were done with them. It became a first run theatre when the twins and multies with their smaller audtioriums were built.

I had the re release of The Wizard of Oz in 1998. I watched it on my own one late night and you could almost feel the ghosts of the past stop by to see it again.

It was called the Jewel of Famous Players at one time.

Jon Lidolt
Jon Lidolt on June 17, 2007 at 10:26 am

The 3-strip Cinerama films shown at the Eglinton were projected onto a large, but only very slightly curved, Cinemiracle screen. The only thing Cinerama about the Eglinton was the Cinerama logo that appeared in newspaper ads for How the West Was Won and Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm. Other than this minor beef, the theatre was one of Toronto’s best.

hamiltongirl
hamiltongirl on October 16, 2004 at 3:31 pm

Loved this theatre. Unfortunately the last movie I saw there was Jeepers Creepers. But it was kinda nice that my friend and I had the whole theatre to ourselves. Beautiful theatre.

Roloff
Roloff on July 17, 2004 at 4:20 am

The Eglinton ran 3-strip Cinerama (Cinemiracle WINDJAMMER, HOLIDAY IN SPAIN and Cinerama) from december 1960 to 1963. View link

edward
edward on April 16, 2004 at 11:36 pm

New website for the Eglinton Grand (formerly the Eglinton Theatre and no longer functioning as a cinema).

http://www.eglintongrand.com/home.html

edward
edward on October 12, 2003 at 10:52 pm

Designed by Kaplan and Sprachman, opened 1936, a beautifully preserved Art Deco movie palace closed in 2003 and being remodeled. Although the new tenant will restore the marquee and facade, the interior will be retrofitted. The theatre will reopen as a rental hall for special events and renamed the Eglinton Grand.
To read an update, go to:
View link

ChadIrish
ChadIrish on November 28, 2002 at 4:48 pm

Hey everyone, If you would like to help out the “Save The Eglinton” Theatre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, then please go visit this web site – http://www.cafepress.com/theeglinton – $5.00 of every sale will go to the “Save The Eglinton” Thanks for your help.

ChadIrish
ChadIrish on March 21, 2002 at 8:29 pm

Hello everyone !!! There is a new store that has opened on the internet just for you all that want to help out in saving the Eglinton Theatre In Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Please visit this site –> http://www.cafepress.com/eglinton <–[ Click Here ]– $5.00 of every sale will go to help save the Eglinton Theatre. Thanks to everyone for there support.

ChadIrish
ChadIrish on March 3, 2002 at 2:53 am

The Eglinton Theatre Now Has A Web Site Just Click Here To Enter —–> http://www.EglintonTheatre.com You can find info all everything on how to save the Eglinton Theatre in Toronto.

HRosenthal
HRosenthal on February 19, 2002 at 12:39 am

I knew the builder personally, and I am certain he would be pleased and proud of the flattering comments made in the petition signature and in the comments sections.

SKates
SKates on February 17, 2002 at 2:38 pm

I saw some picketers with “Save the Eglinton” signs in front of the theatre today. Also, some store fronts were advertising a community rally/meeting tomorrow night (Monday, Feb. 18) at 7:30pm. Anyone have any more info on this?

ChadIrish
ChadIrish on January 29, 2002 at 1:23 pm

HELP SAVE THE EGLINTON THEATRE !!! Please Add Your Signature Here —> http://www.petitiononline.com/503244/petition.html <— To Help Save The Eglinton & Add Your Comments. Thanks. :–)

ChadIrish
ChadIrish on January 29, 2002 at 12:48 pm

The Eglinton Theatre Is Still Open, But Its Going To Close Its Doors In April Or May 2002. A Group Of Us In Toronto Is Going To Try To Save The Eglinton Theatre Before It Closes Its Doors Forever. For More Info On How To Help Save The Eglington Theatre Just E-Mail Me @

SusanStock
SusanStock on January 25, 2002 at 4:47 pm

A tragedy of immense importance. And Toronto thinks its world class- Help us save the Eglinton!