Humber Cinema likely back in the deadpool
Despite 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.
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.
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.