Top 6 Independent Theatres in Toronto

Photo: Ybtraveler

Revue Cinema – 400 Roncesvalles Avenue

Photo: Wikimedia

Revue is enriched by a vibrant Roncesvalles community, and features a variety of Hollywood films and special screenings. The early-19th century heritage site is Toronto’s oldest theatre in use today, and was the longest continuously running theatre up until it closed temporarily in 2006, only to be revived by the community a year later (Its motto is: “Reel Diversity, Real Community”). The throwback theatre screens a combination of current and second-run Hollywood movies, curated documentary series, and independent films, and schedules regular events like Silent Sundays (featuring silent films set to live music), and parent and baby screenings.

Playing this month: Amy, Mr. Holmes, A LEGO Brickumentary, Paper Towns, Shaun the Sheep Movie, Docs in Revue: She’s Beautiful when She’s Angry

Bloor Hot Docs – 506 Bloor Street West

Photo: Taylor on History

Despite undergoing a number of facelifts since opening in 1913, the Bloor Hot Docs theatre (a.k.a. the Midtown, and the Eden) remains a classic cinema whose driving force continues to be the promotion of filmmakers and their art. As the name suggests, the theatre’s films consist mainly of documentaries, but they play the odd cult classic (old Christmas movies during the holidays, for example, and regular screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show). The theatre’s partner is the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, meaning the quality of the offerings is all but guaranteed.

Playing this month: Dior and I, The Wrecking Crew, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, A Poem is a Naked Person, Bikes vs. Cars, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, TIFF (various)

Magic Lantern Carlton Cinema – 20 Carlton Street

Photo: Wikimedia

The Carlton was also on death’s door after theatre giant Cineplex Odeon decided its shabby facilities weren’t in line with the state of the art technology preferred for many blockbusters. It was saved by Magic Lantern Theatres (owner of Rainbow Cinemas), which allows the theatre to be run almost completely independently. Carlton offers a retro cinema experience that offers most of the big budget films, along with several independent Canadian and foreign films, at a fraction of the cost of a film at most other movie theatres. Tickets are $5 on Tuesdays.

Playing this month: The Room, Digging for Fire, Diary of a Teenage Girl, Motown Film Fest (Mahogany, The Wiz, The Last Dragon), TO Indie FIlm Festival (various), The Sandlot

Fox Theatre – 2236 Queen Street East

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The Fox has been a mainstay in Toronto’s Beaches community for more than 100 years, undergoing restorations at points in between. It’s the second-oldest theatre behind Revue cinema, and its restored concessions area holds original remnants from the silent-era hotspot. Memberships cost just $10 per year, and get you three dollars off tickets (originally $11) and 10% of concessions.

Playing this month: Irrational Man, Far from the Maddening Crowd, Southpaw, The Water Diviner, Love & Mercy, Trainwreck, Suite Francaise

The Royal – 608 College Street

Photo: Wikimedia

The Royal offers the same early-20th century cinema experience as some of the other theatres on this list, but without the rundown equipment and decor. The Little Italy theatre screens mostly independent films, as well as providing a scenic backdrop for live shows, art exhibits, and other special events. Parts of the theatre also double as a TV and film post-production studio that has been used by renowned Canadian film directors Atom Egoyan, Deepa Mehta, and Bruce McDonald. The cinema can also be seen in the romantic comedy The F Word.

Playing this month: Mountain Men, Cop Car, Caribbean Tales International Film Festival (various), When Animals Dream, 11:11

TIFF Bell Lightbox – 350 King Street West

Photo: Signmedia

The area surrounding the TIFF Bell Lightbox may be the busiest in the city during TIFF. Ticket-holders line the sidewalks in anticipation of their films at the nearby venues – and at the Lightbox itself – and the many celebs appearing for gala presentations. Opened in 2010, the modern venue features a ground-floor restaurant, another restaurant and lounge on the second floor, and a sixth-floor rooftop terrace. The venue has five theatres that screen a combination of blockbusters, independent movies, and documentaries. It also hosts a number of festivals (TIFF, Human Rights Watch Film Festival, imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, Hot Docs) and exhibits (retrospectives of Tim Burton, Stanley Kubrick, David Cronenberg, to name a few).

Playing this month: Best of Enemies, Pleasantville, Charlie’s Country, Anastasia, Court, Irrational Man, TIFF (various)