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Humber Cinema likely back in the deadpool

Posted by Chris Bateman / July 17, 2012

humber cinema closed bloor streetDespite re-emerging from a seven-year stint in the deadpool's murky depths last year, the Humber Cinema at Jane and Bloor has closed its doors once again, according to a message posted to the theatre's Facebook page.

In an email today, Rui Pereira, GM and president of the Kingsway Theatre Corporation, said he "no longer operate[s] the Humber Cinema." A follow up message suggested the theatre had not been shuttered permanently but rather "hijacked" by its owner, real estate developer Claude Bitton, and that staff had been locked out.

Calls made to Mr. Bitton have yet to be returned at the time of publication.

Revived by Pereira in April 2011, the Humber Cinema was unexpectedly closed — ostensibly for renovations — in October last year, though there was some speculation the site was a target for condo developers.

Posts on an alternate version of the Kingsway Theatre's website accuse Rui Pereira of a mid-screening physical altercation with investor and partner, Rick Ross. Whether there's any truth to such a claim isn't clear, but it doesn't paint a harmonious picture of life behind the scenes.

The immediate future of the cinema isn't clear but ticket holders are being offered refunds at the Kingsway Theatre location at Royal York and Bloor.

UPDATE: 17:08

So it looks like the Humber is back already. A new Facebook page says the theatre is accepting tickets for screenings tonight ($1 off with coupon) and suggests it will be business as usual from now on. Apparently, Claude Bitton, the owner of the building, has relieved previous operator Rui Pereira and taken on the business with his cousin, Maurice.

If anything else changes we'll let you know here.

UPDATE: 19:38

In a phone call earlier this evening, Claude Bitton said he locked out manager Rui Pereira on Friday over several thousand dollars worth of back rent and other unpaid bills. Confirming he intends to continue the business himself, Bitton said the pair agreed some rent would be waived in lieu of equipment upgrades for the theatre, but it seems things have since turned sour.

"Our theatre is open," says Bitton. "We have a license, we're legal. We're running Ice Age, Spider-Man, and we're going to get, eventually, Batman."

Pereira, on the other hand, says his business was co-opted and disputes Bitton's claim to be properly licensed.

"He has no business running that theatre," Pereira insists. "The only reason he has those films is he put up a lot of money to the distributors. He has no right to keep those films."

Pereira also believes much of the equipment - projectors, seats, popcorn machines - remain his property and says he intends to peruse the matter with the police and other authorities.

Looks like this one could rumble on, but for now at least the Humber Cinema is showing movies.



mike in parkdale / July 17, 2012 at 04:11 pm
that's a real shame. I used to go there often many years ago.
W. K. Lis / July 17, 2012 at 04:15 pm
If the store/cinema does not own the property, it can always be in a kicked-out/end-of-lease position.
Can't go the future. / July 17, 2012 at 04:21 pm

I saw Back to the Future here :(
Danielle / July 17, 2012 at 04:28 pm
This is a shame for those of us who supported the theatre. It's nice to have a first-run cinema that's not in car-mall land of the far reaches in Etobicoke (The Queensway) or all the way downtown. I liked being able to see a 9pm movie and being home by midnight on a weekday. It's a shame. If this turns into condos, I'll be pretty upset.
Devin / July 17, 2012 at 04:29 pm
It's so disappointing and poorly managed... the worst part is that they never communicate properly what is happening. In October, I was told it was closed permanently. Lie. It re-opened. Now its been "hijacked"?

How can someone operate a business like this?!
j-rock / July 17, 2012 at 04:30 pm
I used to live in the area, but it wasn't operating as a theatre for most of the time I lived there. I think I may have registered to vote there at one point though when Elections Canada was temporarily working out of there.
Strav / July 17, 2012 at 04:33 pm
I expect the same fate for all the art houses soon once prints become unavailable (locked up in permanent storage)and small theaters are mandated to switch to digital projectors which cost a fortune.
Rod / July 18, 2012 at 12:22 am
I love the joint despite its many flaws. It should do much better... It should be the crowning jewel of the area.
jack / July 18, 2012 at 01:07 am
Close it up then re-open it and turn it into a theatre that shows porn.
declan / July 18, 2012 at 10:32 am
The Revue on Roncey is getting a tech upgrade. Great place to watch a film.
Jen / July 18, 2012 at 02:16 pm
I sincerely hope it stays open. With the A/C working finally and the Tuesday special price ($7), I will be there regularly if it stays open. I think with new management, it could do really, really well. (At least I hope so!)
Simon Tarses replying to a comment from jack / July 18, 2012 at 08:40 pm
That will never happen. Porn is now solely in the hands of the video market, and people aren't going to go and see porn movies in some darkened theater when they can be seen at home.
Dee / July 18, 2012 at 08:41 pm
Wow, those are some super bitter Facebook comments.
Robbie / July 18, 2012 at 10:39 pm
The issue here is the way the theatre was operated as a "business". It is only sensible to operate a cinema with an expert ie. Rui at the helm. I do not believe that the Humber will be a viable operation without him.
John Stamos / July 19, 2012 at 04:44 am
A porn theatre would be profitable.. the area needs one.
dnr / July 19, 2012 at 09:11 am
I was all excited when the theatre reopened but was disappointed with the outcome. 5 of us paid to get in and when we approached the snack bar - no one was there. The person doing tickets told us to wait. I got fed up got some seats and during the painful commercials/trailers part I decided to go back to get popcorn. Again waited - no one was there. When I went to complain to the 17 year old kid who was selling tickets all I got was a shrug. It just seemed that it was barely holding on as a business. Maybe the new owner will have a better shot at it.
mike123 / July 20, 2012 at 11:10 am
Ever since it opened again it was my first choice for any movie I wanted to see. I once went to a Sunday afternoon show and it was just me and my son. I guess there are not enough people to support a first run movie theater. If it does get saved make it your first choice.
Joe / July 20, 2012 at 06:41 pm
This is going to make an awesome episode of Judge Judy some day. As for the porn theatre idea.. who knows, it could work. Might attract some big stars to the area like Pee Wee Herman and Fred Willard.
Rose / July 20, 2012 at 07:12 pm
I am glad that it is business as usual and that the owner is still continuing to show movies. I will be going this evening to watch Batman.

Our Humber movie is needed in our area it has such character and warmth and is an experience in itself when you go there. And unlike large mall theatres which are totally impersonal, the staff at the Humber once they get to know you -you are greated with a warm hello nice to see you again by staff.
Great expensive was invested in making the Humber into a 4 cinema entertainment centre.
Management needs to bring it to the attention of the community by putting flyers to each household as so many people still do not know that it is open.
I go to see all my movies there now please support this lovely cinema and encourage others in our community to do the same thing. Hopefully they will be running in the smaller theatres classics like Casablanca which I mentioned to the owners son.

Go to the Humber it is an experience in itself you will love the fifties look the girls have. The lamp from A Christmas Story. The comfortable chairs it would be criminal if after all the work gone into it that it closed down


Right now they are awaiting a licence to sell Wine and Beer which will be great as at the Queensway I always enjoy a wine after the movie

The missing ingredient is that the community has to support
The Humber Cinema not talk the talk go and see a movie at the Humber lets make a great effort to support it and keep it open.
If not it will be a great loss to the area
Khyron replying to a comment from Rose / July 20, 2012 at 08:04 pm
If the Humber Cinema adds a digital projector, I'll be there soon as shot. Until then, I'm not making any promises.
Simon Tarses replying to a comment from Jason / July 20, 2012 at 11:10 pm
I do, and so will you when you watch a movie and find out that it's got crappy sound and a bad picture.
chris / August 4, 2012 at 03:33 pm
Hey, for what it's worth I phoned there just now trying to sort out the competing news of them being open or closed and they're still open as of today (aug 3rd). Hope they sort their slumlord issues out, it's possibly the best theatre in the city, with a lot of history - which we're running shorter and shorter on lately.
Thorn / October 1, 2012 at 09:40 am
Been to this cinema a few times since Sept. they've update the projector (digital) and the sound is great. I will be passing up my usual scotiabank theatre and amc(Yonge and Dundas) cinemas to go to this place. I Never had an issue with the people that run the place, there was always someone there to serve you popcorn and drinks, Each theatre is small and the screen are wide, there isn't a bad seat. since this cinema is still unknown to people of its opening there are no big crowds, there were no more than 12 people in the theatre. i like that you can sit where ever you wanted and have no one sitting next to you. i think we've just become custom to what we get at the big box theatres, but I like this place enough to over look the old seating arangement and a few very minor things. check it out for yourself on Tuesday's for their 1/2 price tickets.
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