Month: August 2011

the eaton centre cinemas

Since I’m feeling all nostalgic these days, I figured I would walk down movie theater memory lane again. As I mentioned in my post about the Sheraton Center 2 cinemas, during my infamous six month stint in 1997, I remember going to as many movies as possible.

My movie outings were a great source of entertainment and I firmly believe the cinemas back then were much better than the eye-sores of today. (Yes kids, there was a time when a cinema that had nine screens was considered a mega-plex, there wasn’t a laser light show in the lobby and there were no crappy spaceships hanging from the ceiling over the candy counter. Hard to believe, I know.)

One of the first movies I saw when I moved here was Bean: The Movie. I had been a fan of the TV series while in college, so it seemed logical to see the feature film. I decided that the Eaton Center would be the theater I would watch it in. The film was passable, but what stuck in my mind was the cinema.

Keep in mind, at the time the  Eaton Center was one of the largest cinema in the country. It had somewhere between 18 and 21 screens at any given time (Yes, the number changed depending on the renovations. You can read about it on Movie-Theatres.org if you want.) And it was the FIRST multi-plex in the world.  But the kids of today wouldn’t even know it existed because Cinepelx Odeon abandoned the cinema in 2001 and it has since been torn down.

Yes, it was crowded, the rooms were tiny and some parts of it looked like the stuff nightmares of made of. I remember I was wearing blue PVC/vinyl pants that I had bought from either Stitches, Sirens or Le Chateau and thinking I would rather pee them than use the restrooms. But it was a piece of history.  And now it’s nothing. (Yes, you read that correctly. Blue vinyl pants. It was the late 90’s. Deal with it.)

I find that very typical of today’s big companies. They forget where they come from and what made them who they are — even if what made them was a less-than-perfect cinema on the corner of Dundas and Yonge, buried almost underneath the Eaton Center.

Now with the new AMC next door and the Scotiabank a few blocks away (see the part about eye-sores and crap hanging from the ceiling) all old cinemas are gone from the downtown core. I still think it’s very important to remember history, especially of something so pivotal in the development of modern day cinemas. Would it kill Cineplex Entertainment to put up a plaque commemorating the old cinema? It could read:

On this spot between 1979 and 2001 was the Eaton Center Cineplex Cinemas. At the time, it was the largest cinema in the world and the first-ever multi-plex.It helped build the Cineplex corporation into what it is today.

I’m sure with ticket prices averaging at $14 a shot, Cineplex could more than afford that sign.