When I was living in Toronto during my six-month stint back in 1997, I would often spend my days going to the movies. Back then, Toronto had some great cinemas and they all had more personality that today’s monster megaplexes that are nothing more than eye-sores.
I lived just south of St. Clair, and there TWO theaters (the Hollywood, a two-screen cinema part of Famous Players and the Hyland, a Cineplex Odeon twin cinema) within a five minute walk. Both of them are gone now, becoming an office building and parking lot, respectively. The Hyland stayed around, albeit empty, until the early 2000’s when it was finally torn down and paved over.
One theater that really stood out, but I only got to go to once, was The Sheraton 2, located inside the Sheraton Centre hotel complex. Built almost four levels down, one had to drop down below street level to buy tickets, then keep going down to get to the actual cinemas. There were only two screens and for the most part, it looked like a typical downtown theater from the 70’s and 80’s, with dark orange and brown decor. But compared to today’s cold and unwelcoming cinemas (I’m talking to YOU, Paramout/Scotiabank Theater) it was quite cozy.
Sheraton Centre cinemas closed in October of 1997 and the only film I got to see there was the forgettable (and for the most part, awful) RocketMan. (I was trying to see at least one movie in every theater in Toronto while I was here.) All that remains of the cinema is the large gold marquee outside on Queen Street (now advertising shopping and restaurants inside the Sheraton) and the old ticket booth, which last time I checked, was an exchange bureau. Some sites incorrectly still list the cinema as an amenity of the massive Sheraton complex, but I assure it, it’s long gone. The cinemas themselves, located downstairs from the shopping concourse, have been converted into event space.
For a great list of past and present theaters in Toronto (as well as other cities) check out one of my favorite sites, Movie-Theatre.org, complied by Mike Rivest.