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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sean Kelly

My Return to the Humber Cinema

The Reopened Humber Cinema
Today was the big day. Eight years ago this July, I went to see The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen at the Humber Cinema, not knowing that it would be the final film I see at the theatre before Cineplex Odeon unceremoniously boarded the doors.

Fast forward to today. An entrepreneur named Rui Pereira, who previously resurrected the nearby Kingsway Theatre, made it his goal to bring the Humber - the last remaining of the five original Odeon theatres - back to its former glory.

The theatre finally reopened this weekend, showing Fast Five, and here is the story of my return to the Humber Cinema.


Possibly the biggest change from the old theatre is the completely rebuilt lobby.  The old ticket booth from the old days is replaced by a more modern counter.  One correct assumption that I made was that the theatre, like most independent cinemas in the city, was cash only (and I came prepared).  Unlike most independent theatres, which tend to charge cheaper prices, the administration was comparable with Cineplex's price (though it's an even $12, instead of $12.75).

Even though I arrived less than half and hour before the 4:00pm showtime, the credits from the previous show were still running, so I just hung out in the lobby.  The other big change to the lobby is a completely rebuilt concession stand, which was quite a bit larger than the old concession area.  I should also note that the ushers wore old fashioned black uniforms, complete with hats.  It was quite neat.

Only the upper level was 100% completed.  As I went downstairs to use the washroom, the downstairs cinema (the larger of the two) was blocked off and there still seemed to be a bit of a smell from the water damage the theatre suffered while it was boarded up.  It should also be noted that the old brass handrail on the staircase is now replaced with a plain black one (though that's not that big a deal).


The film was in the upstairs cinema and I am happy to say that it felt the same as it did when I was last there.  That's amazing when you consider the fact that everything, such as the screen and the seats, were completely new, since Cineplex completely gutted the theatre when they left.

As for attendance, I counted that there were maybe about a dozen people at the screening.  While it's not the best turnout, it is pretty good for a theatre that has just reopened after being closed for nearly a decade.  I suspect that there would probably be a larger crowd for evening screenings and I believe that more people might show up once news of the cinema's reopening spreads.

Unlike the major chains, which show nearly 20 minutes of commercials and trailers, there was only a short reel of two trailers before the film started.  The quality was pretty good (even though there was the use of a very scratchy old-school Dolby logo used before the film).  One little hiccup was that at one point one of the reel changes messed up and the sound was unsynchronized.  While it was a bit annoying seeing the character's lips move before they started talking, the problem was only temporary and it was fixed with the next reel change.

Overall, it was a great experience and I expect that the Humber Cinema will return to the list of the many cinemas in the city that I frequent.  Currently, the number of films that it plays will be low until the downstairs cinema is finished.  According to the ushers, Fast Five will play at the cinema throughout the next month, before it is replaced with Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.  While I don't think I'll be seeing that film at the Humber (already committed to seeing it in IMAX 3D), I still plan on keeping on eye on the theatre's schedule and venturing on over whenever a film I am interested in is playing.

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).