Anyone who has walked down Spadina Avenue near Queen Street has probably noticed that mysterious Golden Classics sign. I knew that there had once been a movie theatre at 186 Spadina Avenue, I just didn’t know if the space still existed. The 700+ seat cinema, first known as the Golden Harvest and later as the Golden Classics Cinema catered to the neighbourhood and mostly played Chinese films during its run. When Golden Classics closed in 1995 the theatre sat essentially abandoned for nearly fifteen years, until last year, when the space reopened as The Acacia Centre thanks to some new investors. The Acacia has been hosting special events and local film festivals over the past few months, but hasn’t been operating as a full blown movie theatre; which is where some former employees of The Bloor Cinema come in.
Now known as the Toronto Underground Cinema, a new direction and new management go with the name change. Alex Woodside, Nigel Agnew and Charlie Lawton have taken over management duties at the space, promising Toronto’s cinéaste masses unique programming and exciting possiblities for Toronto Underground. “There’s a lot of great people in this city who love movies and are doing movie-related things,” Woodside tells Torontoist. “And we want to work with them to give them a space to do stuff as well.” Both Woodside and Agnew are former employees of The Bloor Cinema, but left after butting heads with management over various issues, including the types of events they thought the theatre should be running. The two helped bring filmmakers Kevin Smith and Edgar Wright to the Bloor last year to host film series: Kevin Smith Fest and The Wright Stuff, both events were huge draws for the Bloor.
The Toronto Underground Cinema will primarily be a second-run movie house, but they hope to become a premiere venue for first-run independent features, film festivals and other film related events. But can Toronto really support another rep cinema? Their willingness to program events like Kevin Smith Fest and The Wright Stuff is certainly an advantage, and the new theatre has location going for it. Toronto Underground is ideally situated in a growing, cosmopolitan neighbourhood, with almost no other competition for second run features nearby. Also, if the 2500+ people who have joined the Toronto Underground Cinema’s Facebook group in the past few days are any indication, there is obviously some interest.
Toronto Underground Cinema is scheduled to open on Friday, May 14th.
[Editor’s Note] A portion of this post has been removed because it contained unsupported speculation on the part of the author.