TORONTO — After 13 long years of renovation, Paradise Theatre has reopened. The theatre debuted in 1937 with seating of 643, including a balcony for smoking if preferred. The building was created under the direction of Benjamin Brown, one of Toronto’s earliest practising Jewish architects. The theatre is located at Bloor Street and Westmoreland Avenue. According to the paradiseonbloor history page, the venue was known to be an old Italian film house, but over the years, as it had many changes, it is newly improved and refurbished.
“I think it’s first and foremost independent so it is independently owned and operated and it is not a chain but it is also not a chain mentality,” said Jessica Smith, director of programming. “There has been a long history of entertainment on that stretch, so it is nice to be able to bring that back to the neighbourhood and for everyone to have that local spot where they can enjoy a film or take in a show and then soon also have a meal or a cocktail.”
The theatre went through multiple phases and different owners. It transitioned between each era of culture and entertainment within the community of Bloor, and overall Toronto. The goal was to keep the significance of Paradise in its vintage setting but it never lost its touch even with the enriching transformation that did take a lot of time and finance. According to CinemaTreasures.org the original theatre renovations totalled at $40,000 in 1937.
“The space itself is unique right ? It’s a building with 1937 bones with 21st century technology,” said David Thorek, director of operations. “It’s an incredible sound experience as well as a visual one with a 4K digital projector. You kinda get a lot more than just your average Cineplex. They do a really good job at what they do but we are trying to offer something a little bit different. I think it is definitely a big bonus to live near Paradise, you know. It has the theatre itself, and a multitude of different types of programming from film, to talk, to comedy to music.”
According to paradiseonbloor web page on values and code-of-conduct, “the company’s new mission is to create opportunities to feel human by connecting, delighting and inspiring patrons. Paradise is known to bring all walks of life together to share memorable movie experiences. First priority is creating a hospitality-first, curated offer with broad appeal.”
Next month the theatre takes on the theme of anti-Valentine’s Day. There will be a list of films that branch from this theme that many can enjoy.