The Cumberland Cinema is being demolished to make room for another towering condo development. We don’t know yet when it is going to happen, but we do know that this is a terrible shame: while the loss of the theatre isn’t significant from an architectural or stylistic standpoint, it’s a saddening blow to independent movie fare in the downtown core.
The Cumberland is one of the only cinemas in the city to get films that have a limited North American release. Right now it’s showing Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. The Bloor will have a couple screenings at the end of the month, but it’s nice to be able to see a film like Gonzo whenever you want, as opposed to waiting for the scheduled screening at a repertory cinema. The theatre’s also known for hosting special events, like when Jason Schwartzman and Wes Anderson (pictured) came for a Q&A after a screening of The Darjeeling Limited last year. The theatre was included in the limited initial release of that film, giving Torontonians a chance to see it before most of the rest of the world.
Other than the big box theatres and all the repertory cinemas, there’s still the Carlton and the Varsity—but the Carlton usually operates as a second run and gets the cool movies long after the Cumberland does, while the Varsity doesn’t seem to bother much with independent films at all.
The screening rooms inside the Cumberland aren’t spectacular: around since the 80s, they’re long and narrow, and you can usually hear the subway travelling underneath during the quieter parts of a movie. We’re hoping that other theatres—Varsity?—try a similar approach in the Cumberland’s wake. It might not make sense for the area to have two theatres with the same approach now, but when the Cumberland goes, someone’s got to pick up the slack.
Photo of Jason Schwartzman and Wes Anderson speaking at the Cumberland by danepstein.