30 July 2006

Royal Cinema Saved

Toronto film buffs were dealt a harsh blow last month when three of the city's oldest and most beloved vintage repertory theatres were shut down: The Kingsway, The Revue, and The Royal.

I live near the Royal Cinema (just a few blocks' walk from Little Italy, but close enough) and while I never got out to it nearly as much as I'd like, I think it's a great place for its nostalgic facade (dig the marquee), elegant art deco interior (with reclining seats), and eclectic range of films. The Royal is a typical rep house in that it operates primarily as a second-run venue, but it's also hosted cool speciality programmes like "B Movie Thursdays", which afforded me the chance to see the likes of "The Evil Dead", "Flash Gordon" (1980), "Shivers", and "Dark Star" on the big screen. As well, the venue has hosted the Toronto runs of such offbeat Asian offerings as "Sympathy For Mister Vengeance", "Dead Or Alive", and "Uzumaki".

Good news, then, with the announcement that the recently-closed Royal has been saved from conversion to a big box store by the owners of "Theatre D Digital" on Mt. Pleasant Ave, who converted the vintage Regent Cinema into a combination post-production facility and public theatre and plan to do the same here, possibly as early as September.