Revue Theatre – Toronto’s Oldest Operating Cinema, Since 1912

The Revue Theatre is located at ‪400 Roncesvalles Ave (just south of Howard Park Ave), in the Roncesvalles neighbourhood of Toronto.

The Architecture of the World War I Era Theatre

In 1911, a permit was given to the Suburban Amusement Co to build a theatre and the following year, The Revue Theatre opened. The World War 1 era single-screen theatre features Edwardian Classicism architecture. Attributes include a two-storey façade with a cornice and triangular pediment. Inside the pediment is the word “REVUE”. The second storey features red brick, wood trim, paired columns, a pair of round windows with keystones and a pair of flat-head windows with flat arches while the lower storey has two pairs of centred entrance doors.

The Early Years

When The Revue Theatre originally opened, silent films were shown however in 1929, it transitioned to the more modern talking pictures. In the mid 1930’s, prominent Toronto architects, Kaplan & Sprachman did an extensive reconstruction in Art Deco style. A marquee was added and capacity was increased to over 540 seats. In 1955, two back rows were removed from the theatre to accommodate a concession stand. This was something that had been in other Toronto theatres for years.

Renamed the Revue Cinema

During the 1960’s, German films were shown while in the 1970’s, it became an independently operated repertory and art-house theatre. In 1972, the theatre was renamed the Revue Cinema. In the 1980’s, it became part of the local Festival Cinemas chain with the Fox, Royal, Bloor and Kingsway. In 2006, the chain closed and so did the theatre. That same year, the Revue Film Society was created, and this gem received heritage status from the City.

In 2007, the theatre’s marquee collapsed due to many years of neglect and heavy snow. Luckily, no one was injured. It reopened that same year as a not-for-profit, community-driven theatre. In 2014, a grant was given to the theatre and with the funds, the lobby and interior were restored to its previous charm.

The Revue Theatre Today

The historic cinema is the oldest operating theatre in Toronto and is still run by the community. The Revue Cinema screens second-run Hollywood movies along with hosting special events.

Did You Know?

  • When The Revue first opened in 1912, the Toronto Board of Education sent a letter of protest to the Police Commissioner. The Board was troubled that the theatre was in the vicinity of Howard Park School and about the influence moving picture shows could have on children in the area.
  • The architectural duo of Kaplan & Sprachman designed over 75 theatres throughout Canada. Some of their other Toronto works include the Allenby, Eglinton and the Bloordale Theatres.
  • Today, the theatre’s film society works with local charities, organizations and schools for fundraising initiatives and for educational purposes.
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