The Scotiabank Theatre Toronto (Cineplex) in 2012
The Scotiabank Theatre Toronto was originally named the Paramount Theatre. Its name was changed to the Scotiabank Theatre Toronto in a deal that created the customer loyalty programs of Cineplex and Scotiabank. The theatre’s modern architecture is perhaps jarring to the eye when first viewed, but it is an impressive structure that dominates the scene like no other building in the area. At night, its neon lights, similar to the grand marquees of theatres of old, such as the Imperial and Loew’s Downtown, shine into the night and illuminate the busy street below.
The theatre occupies only the top section of the building where it is located. The theatre’s lobby is ultra-modern, its design incorporating glass, steel and neon lights, whereas in older theatres, ornate plaster trim, stone carvings and decorative marble were employed. The escalator that leads to the second-floor level, where the auditoriums are located, may not be as grand as the entrance staircase in the Ed Mirvish Theatre (the old Imperial), but its immense height creates the feeling that you are entering a place of importance.
At the Scotiabank Theatre Toronto, the experience begins the moment you enter the building. Modern sculptures and art hang from the ceiling of the lower lobby, adding to the appeal of the vast space. The upper lobby has a modern-style chandelier and numerous mirrors that reflect daylight from the myriad of large windows facing John Street.
The numerous auditoriums in the theatre contain stadium seating, a feature that is a vast improvement over the theatres of old. The seats are comfortable, with cup holders on the armrests to place drinks. In the old days, commercials were rare in theatres. Today, to avoid the endless advertising, some people enter a theatre about twenty or twenty-five minutes after the listed starting time of the film. However, theatres today still employ free gifts to entice people to attend. No dinnerware or autographed photos of movie stars are offered. A person now answers trivia questions on an app on a cell phone. The prize is pizza, a new twist on an old technique.
The Scotiabank Theatre Toronto is also one of the most popular venues during TIFF. Each year, thousands of people attend the Scotiabank’s many auditoriums to view films.
The above photos of the Imperial are from the 1970s (City of Toronto Archives).
The left-hand photo shows the Yonge Street entrance to the old Pantages Theatre, which was renamed the Imperial, and is now the Ed Mirvish Theatre. The right-hand photo depicts the impressive marquee of the same theatre. Although the theatre no longer screens movies, its grandeur can still be experienced when attending the live theatre productions of David Mirvish.
The Scotiabank Cineplex Theatre at Richmond and John Streets.
The Scotiabank Theatre on a hot July evening in 2012.
Until recently, I have been guilty of ignoring the architecture and the interiors of our modern theatres. However, when I began photographing them, I was amazed to discover that many have lobbies, architecture, and entrances that in their way are as impressive as the theatres of yesteryear. They are modern in design, and though not appreciated by some, a few of them are quite spectacular. The multi-screen Cineplex Scotiabank Theatre at 259 Richmond Street West, built in 1999, is one of them.
It was originally the Paramount Theatre, but was renamed the Scotiabank in a deal that combined customer loyalty programs between Scotiabank and Cineplex. There were five of these theatres, located in various cities, most of them originally built by Paramount. The Scotiabank Theatre in Toronto has modernistic architecture that is perhaps jarring to the eye when first viewed, but it is an impressive structure. It dominates the scene like no other building in the area. At night, its neon lights, similar to the grand marquees of theatres such as the Imperial of old, shine into the night, illuminating the street.
Similar to theatres in earlier decades, the Scotiabank Theatre shares the building where it is located with other tenants.
The lobby is ultra-modern, containing glass, steel and neon lights. In older theatres, ornate plaster trim, stone carvings, and decorative marble were employed to decorate lobbies.
This photo shows the escalator and stairs that lead to the second-floor level where the auditoriums are located. It may not be as grand as the entrance staircase in the Ed Mirvish Theatre (the former Imperial), but its immense height creates the feeling that you are entering a place of importance. Similar to previous decades, the lobby and entrance add to the occasion. In my opinion, viewing a film on TV or a small electronic device can never reproduce this experience, which begins the moment you enter the theatre.
Modern sculptures that hang from the ceiling, add to the appeal of the vast lower lobby of the Scotiabank Theatre.
The upper lobby has an enormous modern-style chandelier and numerous mirrors that reflect daylight from the wall of windows facing John Street.
The large windows on John Street. The upper lobby of the Scotiabank is behind these windows, on the top level of the building
The numerous auditoriums in the theatre contain stadium seating, a feature that is a vast improvement over the theatres of old. The seats are comfortable and there are holders on the armrests to place your drinks. However, theatres-goers are now subjected to advertising. In the old days, commercials were rare, though I remember one for Chiquita Bananas, in which Carmen Miranda sang the jingle. I still remember her enormous hat with its array of fruit on it.
Similar to the 1940s and 1950s, theatres today still employ free gifts to entice people to attend. There are no more dinnerware or autographed photos of movie stars. Now a person answers trivia questions on an app on a cell phone. The prize is a pizza. A new twist on an old technique.
The exit from the theatre auditoriums to the upper lobby is indeed impressive.
The east facade of the Scotiabank Cineplex Theatre on John Street in July of 2012.
The entrance to the Scotiabank Theatre on Richmond Street West.
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To view previous posts about other movie houses of Toronto—old and new
To view links to posts about Toronto’s Heritage Buildings
Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog.
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