Toronto Cinemas: From Good to Grody

By Lisa Lagace 

Toronto is a film city

Our reputation was built on TIFF, but even when you step outside the festival hoopla, this is a great place to live if you happen to live for cinema.

But our abundance of theatres can sometimes be overwhelming. So we thought we’d walk you through the best places to see everything from the latest blockbuster to your fav cult flick from the 90s.

TIFF Bell Lightbox
It should be no surprise that the best cinema in the city is the one the festival built. The chairs are incredible, the sightlines are great no matter where you’re seated, and it doesn’t seem to suffer from the way too damn cold issue many of the big chain theaters seem to always struggle with. It also plays films you won’t find anywhere else – and generally, they’re ones you’ll be thankful you saw.

Varsity VIP
If you’re looking for privacy, or to impress a date – the VIP cinema is where it’s at. With a great location at Bloor and St. George, a solid selection of films (if it’s not playing anywhere else it’s probably playing here), and the best seats you’ll find in a cinema, it’s worth saving your scene points for.

While this doesn’t have the cool factor of the rep cinemas, it doesn’t have the mouse at your feet issue either. Scotiabank is located right downtown, there are plenty of cinemas, most with great sightlines and ample space, and while they don’t get much of an indie selection, if you’re looking to see the latest blockbuster, it can’t be beat. You can even grab a drink at the cinema’s bar first. 

Canada Square
While this one requires a trip up to Yonge and Eglinton, the fact that it’s up on Eglinton speaks to the level of class happening at this theatre. Sometimes it’s worth the trip north every once in a while, after all.  

Another great downtown location, the real appeal of Carleton is its selection. If you’re looking for the latest indie movies, this is the cinema to check out.

Bloor Cinema
If you live for docs, there is no better place than the Bloor. While the cinema has seen its ups and downs over the years, we love the renovations Hot Docs gave it, and the best part – it is it always serves booze.

Royal Cinema
If you’re looking for a rep cinema that’s full of history, this is the one. It keeps the classic film house marquee alive. The wonderful Toronto based film The F Word features it prominently. This is also the place that made midnight screenings of The Room a thing.

Revue Cinema
This rep theatre is the self-proclaimed “only not-for-profit cinema” in Toronto, and if you live near Roncesvalles, it’s worth checking out for some of the most interesting film series you’ll find in the city. Silent Sundays are highly recommended.

Metro Theatre
Okay, so by our standards, this is the only theatre that really counts as grody. Almost every other cinema in the city has something to redeem it. But one step into the Metro and it’s no question that it used to be a porn cinema. Run down doesn’t even begin to explain it. We suspect that’s why it finally shut down late last year.


Photo Credit: (Metro Theatre), Dominic Bugatto 

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