After a year of Whip TV’s cryptic advertisements that hinted at it, the Kingsway Theatre will officially reopen this Friday after hosting a special sneak peek and open house (featuring a free screening of Spike Milligan’s 1962 comedy The Postman’s Knock) last night. The art deco theatre, located at 3030 Bloor Street West near Royal York Road, opened in 1939, but has been closed since 2006. Before the doors were open to the public last night, Torontoist got taken on a tour by the theatre’s new manager, Rui Pereira.
The theatre’s original projectors are still humming away (top), while the front lobby waits for a concession stand (bottom).
Switchworks Technology, a local high-speed internet provider and the company behind Whip TV, decided to lease the theatre and run movies again in an effort to promote its internet, phone, and web TV services. “It was a good opportunity,” explained Pereira. “We want to use the theatre to promote our triple play product through screen ads and flyers.”
Though renovations have been ongoing for four months, a lot of work still needs to be done. “We still have to get a new candy table, new doors, and a surround sound system,” said Pereira. “But most of the equipment is original.” The famous old marquee—the most recognizable part of the façade—will even be put back into use, though it still requires repairs. “When we started the renovations we found a nest of raccoons living in there,” chuckled Pereira. “They chewed through all the wires.” The marquee will even feature all of the original lettering (with the exception of three letters that were beyond repair), which Pereira and his staff have painstakingly reassembled.
Unlike the old Kingsway, the newly renovated theatre will not be showing second-run releases. “The Rogers [Video] across the street can do that,” said Pereira. “We’re going to be showing fresh stuff, but we don’t have anything planned after the first week. We hope to eventually show first run releases and children’s matinees during the day.” Ticket prices will be $10 for adults and $8 for children and seniors.
The theatre will officially reopen with The Boy in Striped Pajamas, the story of a friendship set between the wires of a Nazi concentration camp, and Rachel Getting Married, the TIFF-debuted tale of a daughter returning from rehab for a family wedding—a tad depressing for the grand reopening of an iconic Etobicoke landmark. But things are looking significantly more sunny for the new year: a Bloor Cinema–style theatre is just what the west end needs.
Photos by Stephen Michalowicz/Torontoist