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Culture

Guillermo del Toro Joins the Fight to Save Historic Toronto Arts & Culture Hub, The Revue Cinema

As the volunteer board that runs the cinema faces a potential takeover by the building landlords, thousands of film, art and music lovers — including the Oscar-winning director del Toro — have joined the chorus emphasizing the theatre's importance to Toronto's cultural life.

Revue Cinema

Revue Cinema

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The fight to save an independent Toronto theatre has gone international.

Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro today (July 4) joined the thousands of supporters advocating for Toronto's Revue Cinema to retain current management, as the building's landlords seek to take over operations at the iconic community hub. Del Toro called on Mayor Olivia Chow, as well as local representatives, to step in to protect the theatre from potential closure.


"Can you help save the REVUE, one of Canada's most beloved, non-profit, cultural landmarks?" he asked her. "If not you, WHO can help? Or HOW can I help?"

Last week, the building's owners revealed plans to take over management of the longstanding theatre, which they purchased in 2007. Since then, the theatre has been run by a volunteer board, and is currently one of the city's biggest successes when it comes to community arts.

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The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has granted the board an injunction, preventing the landlords from interfering with the cinema's operations until the matter returns to court on July 8.

While many venues and festivals are struggling to keep doors open post-lockdown, The Revue is thriving, posting $1.3 million in revenue in 2023, up significantly from pre-pandemic revenues, The Globe and Mail reports. The cinema hosts a number of popular recurring film series, that act as community gatherings as much as screenings, from the neo-noir focused Neon Dreams to Dumpster Raccoon, which finds treasure in other moviegoers' trash.

A hub for all kinds of culture

The theatre isn't just a home for cinephiles, but a meeting place for arts and culture lovers of all kinds. The series Stompbox focuses on music-on-film, with an upcoming July 28 screening of Born Innocent: The Redd Kross Story thrown into uncertainty by the eviction attempt. American rock band Redd Kross are due to appear at the screening before a show at Lee's Palace the next night, if the screening goes ahead.

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"We are all filled with fighting spirit and full of f--king optimism that the Revue Cinema and the immense support of the whole city will prevail in their battle against Ebenezer Scrooge," wrote Stompbox programmers on Facebook.

Mac Downey, who runs the Toronto International Music Video Festival, is a regular at the cinema who emphasizes to Billboard Canada that while the programming is excellent, the Revue is more than just a theatre. "I’ve been going for years now, and it has become a cherished part of my routine," he says. "Few places carry a sense of family on this scale. I’m constantly seeing familiar faces and smiles."

The existential challenges facing The Revue are both familiar and slightly unusual when it comes to struggling arts organizations. Unlike many others, The Revue's problems aren't exactly financial — but the thriving cinema is still at the whims of its ownership, whose goal of turning it from a non-profit into a business seem at odds with preserving and fostering the theatre's current base.

“We don’t want to close the movies, we want to run it ourselves,” owner Leticia Mullin told The Star. “But we want to get rid of the board." Speaking with writer Richie Assaly, programmer Will Sloan said that the owners' goals are typical of Toronto, "a city built around the whims of our landlord class.”

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While some community arts spaces like The Tranzac in Toronto's Annex neighbourhood are fundraising for their future, others like The Revue have to fend off takeovers from owners. Both cases emphasize that sustainability in the arts is linked to broader issues like wealth inequality, a cost of living crisis and the steep prices of property.

As high-profile figures like del Toro join the cause and the volunteer board waits for further decisions from the legal system, theatregoers are still filling the cinema's seats, planning for the show to go on.

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This is a developing story and may be updated with more information.

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Drake and 50 Cent
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Drake and 50 Cent

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50 Cent Teases Possible Collab with Drake After Toronto Link Up

The American rapper, referenced by Drake in diss track 'Push Ups,' shared a photo with the Toronto superstar while he was in town for a performance at Rebel night club, hinting at a potential TV project in the works.

A hip hop legend linked up with one of Toronto's biggest stars, teasing a potential collaboration on the horizon.

50 Cent was in town this weekend for a Saturday (July 20) performance at Rebel night club, as well as a refreshing pit stop at Cabana Pool Bar earlier in the day. While on the ground in Toronto, he met up with Drake to talk possible upcoming projects.

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