Uptown Theatre

764 Yonge Street,
Toronto, ON M4Y

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Showing 1 - 25 of 46 comments

rivest266 on March 5, 2014 at 4:05 pm

September 18th, 1920 grand opening ad in photo section.

JCharles on September 22, 2013 at 11:56 am

This entry needs to be updated to include the Uptown Backstage 1 & 2, two additional screens operating on the other side of the building, that opened on May 20th, 1970. I will add an advertisement for the opening to the photo section.

DavidDymond on May 29, 2013 at 2:45 pm

LaserboyTO is absolutely correct about the refusal of Famous Players to retrofit some of their older theatres for handicapped. It would have been cost prohibitive and these theatres were at the end of their commercial lives. They had built the Paramount just a few blocks to the south but what did the handicapped do— they went and protested and actually sued Famous Players over the uptown. The decision was made just to close these old theatres and that decision was the correct one! I worked for Famous Players 11 years and actually worked at the Uptown for a while!!

rl_83 on May 28, 2013 at 9:36 pm

“ Ignore the troll ”


laserboyTO on February 27, 2013 at 2:53 pm

Ignore the troll. Here’s the story, I have worked for Famous Players (now Cineplex) since the late 1980’s. A human rights complaint was made at another downtown theatre for not being accessible, the ruling came down that cinemas had to be made accessible (including restrooms) and they had two years to do it. The cost was prohibitive in many theatres plus the Uptown was an expensive old theatre to keep operating so Famous closed all of their theatres that they owned and sold off the properties and once leases expired in locations that they leased they didn’t renew and closed them too. Other casualties of this era in downtown/uptown Toronto were the Plaza, Hollywood, Eglinton & Sheraton theatres. Their new “brand” theatres were built on properties with much better leasing terms and were much more efficient (read, profitable) to run. The Uptown was demolished despite an attempt to get it designated a heritage building but because there are two surviving examples of architect Thomas Lamb’s theatres in Toronto, The Ed Mirvish Theatre (formally Canon Theatre/Pantages Theatre/Imperial Six cinemas/Imperial Theatre) and the Elgin Wintergarden Theatres (formally the the Yonge theatre in the late 60’s/70’s early 80’s and before that, Loew’s Yonge Street theatre) so the heritage designation was not granted and was demolished to make way for a condominium development – the Uptown condos. The Uptown was a great place to see movies and a favorate for movie goers. Each year TIFF paid rental rates for the theatres they used during the film festival and theatre staff and management operated during the theatres along with an army of TIFF volunteers and paid festival reps. who pretty much took charge of all front-of-house operations.

rl_83 on May 28, 2012 at 12:53 am

The decision to close the Uptown was probably more related to Real Estate assets rather than anything to do with Wheelchair Access.

If the story of the Uptown is anything like the Capitol 6 was in Vancouver, FP owned the property. Even in 2005 dollars, the property was worth tens of millions of dollars. Guess what replaced it? “ The Capitol Residences ”. Sound familiar?

The overly bloated figure of $700,000 ( maybe they got quotes from government contractors ) seems to be totally unrealistic, and used the whole fiasco as a vehicle to unload some prime Toronto real estate.

That’s my thoughts on the subject.

A_Proud_Canadian on January 3, 2012 at 1:23 am

Yeah I know “milanp”, many theatres were lost during T.I.F.F.’s existence and were used by the organization. Then again,the closure of Uptown, University, Showcase, etc, has nothing do with T.I.F.F. T.I.F.F. didn’t use the Varsity despite being modern on their last festival and it didn’t closed. How would you know T.I.F.F.was demanding modern facilities? Where is your evidence? This is just plain coincidence those old theatres were used for T.I.F.F. There are a lot of demolished, closed and abandoned theatres in the U.S.lots of examples on this website. Those every demolished, closed and abandoned theatres in the U.S.shows Americans really cares about their preservation of their old cinemas. Talk about hypocrisy.

A_Proud_Canadian on January 2, 2012 at 11:17 pm

Hey “milanp”, its not end of the story yet. Where is the proof that the T.I.F.F. caused the Uptown to close? Where did you get the facts? Why are you defending Viacom? Just because you said so? Sure T.I.F.F. is a big film festival. Just plain ignorance and refusing to listen to everyone on this board. I can give you the links as proof it has nothing to do with T.I.F.F. I can email to you the links of news articles of Uptown’s closure if you want. But you won’t because you are afraid of admitting being wrong.

igoudge on January 2, 2012 at 5:56 pm

No offence Milanp, sounds like you have attended TIFF at some point, but definitely didnt follow the Uptown story long enough as mentioned earlier. Tiff only ran the Uptown for a matter of days to finish the rental back in 2003, the year it closed and screened the final 20 films or so. But it was Famous, not TIFF, who ran/owned the building and abandoned it when the lease was up for other ventures when they and Cineplex were merging in the early Aughts. After the merger that was talk of a new multiplex under the One Bloor property but with the location of the Varsity, and now Cumberland along with the recession, that project was abandoned. Dont get me wrong I miss the venue loads too, but make sure to point the finger in the right direction.

milanp on January 2, 2012 at 4:09 pm

TIFF is an unholy monster, and the Uptown was just one of many casualties in their march to world (film festival) dominance. End of story, eh, Canucks?

SilentToronto on January 22, 2011 at 9:25 am

Hogwash about TIFF — as stated above, they merely rented the space. If anything, TIFF programmer Colin Geddes toasted the Uptown’s screen on its final night of operation (video here). As booming as the Ryerson is at 2 in the morning, Midnight Madness screenings haven’t been the same since the Uptown closed.

A quick history of the building is available at Silent Toronto.

qwo06 on January 1, 2011 at 2:49 pm

“Sad, but typical of those cynical, pretentious, p.c.-to-a-fault Canucks.” Yeah, becoming an American citizen will make me a saint.

qwo06 on January 1, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Get your facts straight milanp and stop misleading readers to the site. Besides, I worked for Famous Players and I could confirm its my former employer who shut down the Uptown. Sounds too “P.C.” to be honest eh?

telliott on January 1, 2011 at 1:51 pm

TIFF had nothing to do with the Uptown. It was owned and operated by Famous Players and they were the ones that refused to spend the cash. It was just one of the many cinemas used by TIFF for the festival. Thanks for the Canucks insults.

milanp on January 1, 2011 at 1:13 pm

I blame the Toronto Film Festival organization for letting the Uptown die.
With the (seemingly) gazillions of dollars they rake in each year, they could have easily spent the needed cash to make the theater handicap accessible.
But even in the early ‘00s those greedy TIFF-ers had their eyes on the prize: that absurd, museum-like monstrosity downtown they’re now calling home.
Sad, but typical of those cynical, pretentious, p.c.-to-a-fault Canucks.

TLSLOEWS on July 22, 2010 at 2:47 pm

A.K.A Loews Uptown.

igoudge on July 3, 2009 at 9:44 am

And as it is unfortunately even the Cumberland is on its last legs, they are apparently only renewing their lease a month at a time since the rest fo the tenants for the buillding have pretty much moved out and the rest of the chain has being gradually shutting their doors. Woudn’t be surprised within the next two years if we loose the cumberland as well unfortunately since it is the best place for foreign films in the city.

telliott on July 3, 2009 at 9:11 am

The Yonge/Bloor/Bay area used to have more theatres than anywhere else in the city. The Uptown 5, Showcase Cinema, Towne Cinema, Plaza Twins, Varsity Twin, University, Cumberland 4….those were the days. Now it’s just the Varsity 12 and Cumberland 4. :–(

igoudge on July 3, 2009 at 8:59 am

Yeah I heard that project was in the running at one point and it was shifting from the Uptown condos and the new project that is stagnated across the street but like you said, after the merger with Varsity so close along with Parascotia not far away as well it died a quick death. So miss it ;–(

telliott on July 3, 2009 at 8:44 am

I just looked up their websites. The Crystal Blu is at 21 Balmuto St and the Uptown is at 35 Balmuto St. So, south of Bloor, the Crystal Blu will be the first building, the Uptown the next building. Too bad they couldn’t have included a new Uptown theatre somehow at the bottom of the Uptown condo, but alas Famous Players is no more, and Cineplex Entertainment already has the Varsity 12 across Balmuto St in the Manulife Centre. That is why plans for a new 10 screen multiplex by Famous Players at 1 Bloor E (if IT ever gets built) have been dropped by Cineplex.

telliott on July 3, 2009 at 8:38 am

As far as I know, the Crystal Blu is a different condo, both on Balmuto St. I haven’t been by lately but the Uptown condo is more or less on the site of the Uptown theatre itself. I think the Crystal Blu is north of that.

igoudge on July 3, 2009 at 8:31 am

really? Whats with the actual branding of Crystal Blu condos then, separate project or something? You see the singage in front of the balumto side.

telliott on July 3, 2009 at 8:19 am

That IS the Uptown condos…the one that is at 5 stories…glad to know it is finally above ground. Yes, I agree with you….it took so long to sell the condos, they could have kept the Uptown for another few years but I guess they had to close since they weren’t going to make it accessable for the disabled.