Reminiscing about the Humber Cinema

Humber Cinema

It has a little over six months now, since it was first announced that the Humber Cinema at Jane and Bloor was set to reopen under independent ownership.  The theatre needed extreme restoration, which is probably why it has taken so long to officially re-open. Now it has been announced on the theatre’s Facebook Group that the theatre will reopen on April 29.

I’m definitely very happy to see this theatre reopen, since I have a personal history with the cinema.  It was one of two movie theatres in my area growing up (the other being the Runnymede Theatre) and I can probably say that they helped to nurture my love of movies

I believe the earliest film I saw at the Humber was The Land Before Time way back when I was only 6 years old.  I wouldn’t become a regular patron of the theatre until I was a teenager and started going to movies on my own.  I would often divide my time between the Humber and Runnymede theatres, depending on what was playing at each.  I have to admit that I did enjoy the atmosphere of the Runnymede Theatre better and I was quite sad when it closed in 1998 to make way for a Chapters bookstore (with the last film I saw at that theatre being Shakespeare in Love).

After the Runnymede closed, the Humber became my main theatre and I would always consider it first when choosing where to see a movie.  The Humber actually responded to the Runnymede’s closure by undergoing a renovation in early 1999, which added new seats and an updated sound system.

It was at the Humber where I saw Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace during its opening weekend (at a somewhat unusual 9am start time).  True, I don’t think much of the film these days, but for that one screening it was pure awesomeness.  The Humber was also be where I saw such films as The Matrix, Scream 3Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

Sadly, as I headed into my 20s, the Humber’s days became numbered.  Cineplex Odeon was starting to focus more on their megaplexes and were one-by-one closing down their old 1-2 cinema theatres.  One day in the summer 2003, I went to the Humber to see The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  Little did I know that it would be the final film I see at the theatre.  Unlike the Runnymede Theatre, Cineplex packed up and left the Humber with absolutely no fanfare.  It was literally open one week, closed the next.  Cineplex also gutted the theatre (taking all the seats and equipment), which, at the time, prevented the theatre from reopening as an independent.

The Humber had been pretty much gathering dust in the years since then.  I would sometime peer through the windows as I walked by and reminisce about all the films I saw in the theatre as a teenager.  I moved on of course, and my main cinema switched to Cineplex’s Queensway Cinemas (even though I now have to take a subway and bus, which equates about 40 minutes travel time, as opposed to the 20 minutes it took me to walk to the Humber).

My main impression over the years was that the Humber was pegged for demolition to be replaced with condos.  That’s why it came as a big surprise when I learned that Rui Pereira (who previously reopened the nearly Kingsway Theatre) had purchased the Humber to reopen it.

Now the theatre is set to reopen in a little over three weeks, with the first film planned to be Fast Five.  I’m not a big Fast and the Furious fan (in fact, I’ve seen none of the films), but I’d be willing to make an exception to revisit the theatre I have so many memories at.

Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-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).