Future of TIFF’s Main Theater In Question: Festival Does Not Expect Impact for ‘Number of Years’

The centrally located Scotiabank Theatre hosts many of the festival's screenings, but it might soon be replaced with a pair of mixed-use buildings.
Scotiabank Theatre and Michal's StoreVarious, Toronto, Canada - Jul 2017
Scotiabank Theatre
Roberto Machado Noa/REX/Shutterstock

The Toronto International Film Festival’s most recognizable venue might be getting a new look — in a few years. While a recent article on the local news website blogTO stoked fears that one of the festival’s primary theaters, the centrally located Scotiabank Theatre, will soon transform into a mixed-use building (read: no more Scotiabank Theatre), a festival representative assures fest fans that they are already planning for changes that may or may not materialize in the coming years.

Earlier this week, blogTO shared that the venue’s current owner, the Canadian real estate investment firm RioCan, “has applied to the city for a zoning by-law amendment in order to construct two mixed-use buildings on the southwest corner of John and Richmond Streets, right where Michaels and the famous Scotiabank Theatre currently stand.” The outlet added that, “architectural plans published by the city this week show that RioCan intends to construct two buildings of 39 and 40 storeys to replace their existing 227,326-square-foot retail property.”

The plans — which are still in early stages and have yet to be approved by the city — include 613 residential units, plus seven levels of office space, “a replacement for the existing movie theatre,” along with a daycare facility and two levels of retail space.

The theater complex serves as one of the primary hubs of TIFF, and the majority of press screenings are held at the multiplex. Without the current theater, the lauded annual festival would have to find more space to accommodate thousands of movie-goers. The festival also hosts screenings and premieres at multiple venues around the city, including the TIFF Bell Lightbox, Roy Thomson Hall, and the Princess of Wales theater (all of which are mere blocks away from the Scotiabank), plus theaters at Ryerson College, and the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre.

A representative for the festival told IndieWire, “TIFF is aware of the proposals and is in frequent discussion with Cineplex and our partners. This residential development will have a long planning period and is not expected to impact the Festival for a number of years,” promising that the fest “will have robust plans in place.”

The Scotiabank Theatre first opened in 1999 as the Paramount Theatre Toronto. It currently boasts a total of 14 auditoriums, including one with an IMAX screen, six with 3D screens, one UltraAVX auditorium with D-Box, and a Barco Escape auditorium. The theater also hosts the Toronto After Dark Film Festival each year.

This year’s Toronto International Film Festival runs September 5 – 15.

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