toronto movie theatres 1990s

10 signs you were a Toronto movie buff in the 1990s

The 1990s witnessed the rise of the multiplex in Toronto and the death of a whole lot of smaller movie theatres in Toronto. Still, those who loved film at the time were able to soak up the experience of screenings at places like the Uptown and Runnymede Theatres. This was a time when local video stores and cinema architecture was almost taken for granted, and now much if it is fading away.

Here are 10 signs you were a Toronto movie buff in the 1990s.

1. You loved the palatial Uptown Theatre, one of the last truly magnificent large scale and functional cinemas in the city, and went to the early Midnight Madness series held there as part of TIFF.

2. You remember when TIFF was called the "Festival of Festivals" and was centred in Yorkville and the four-screen Cumberland Theatre. It was much smaller back then, but there seemed to be more reverence for film culture during this period of the fest.

3. You spent hours upon hours in the balcony at the Bloor Cinema, where you could get away with smoking cigarettes (and drinking from a flask, of course), but at the expense of the sound quality offered downstairs.

4. You hated the rec room-sized theatres, but you begrudgingly caught at least a few flicks at the Eaton Centre Cineplex, though the crowds of high school kids on Toonie Tuesdays were almost too much to bear.

5. Membership at places like Suspect Video, the Film Buff, and Queen Video was virtually mandatory, and at the time you couldn't fathom a world without these places, which were a part of your weekly routine.

6. You watched films at the Eglinton and Capitol theatres before they became upscale event venues. Ditto for the York, which acted as an event space before eventually being claimed by condos.

7. You remember Yonge and St. Clair (or more specifically Heath) as a movie destination anchored by the Hollywood and the Hyland theatres, where Famous Players and Cineplex duked it out side by side.

8. For you, the Runnymede Theatre wasn't a Chapters location or the nicest Shopper's Drugmart in the city, but instead a gorgeous place to watch a movie. You didn't need pre-film entertainment because you could marvel at the architectural details.

9. The Plaza Theatre at Yonge and Bloor might have been a rather utilitarian cinema, but its centrally located 1000+ seats meant that you ended up watching a lot of movies here.

10. At one point or another, you chatted with John Porter about film at the original location of CineCycle at the back of 317 Spadina Ave.

Share your memories in the comments.

Photo of the Uptown Theatre's sign being removed in 2006 by Chris Barker.


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