Remembering the Cinesphere

It was announced yesterday that the bulk of Ontario Place will be closed for up to five years as the province works to find a way to rejuvenate the waterfront amusement park.

One of the causalities of this announcement was the Cinesphere, which some reports say will actually be torn down as part of these rejuvenations.  The Epcot-like globe in the centre of Ontario Place was the world’s first permanent IMAX theatre (and up until the mid-1990s, it was the ONLY such theatre in Toronto).

It’s sadly ironic that the Cinesphere closes at a time when IMAX is bigger than ever.  It was just a little over a month ago when audiences were awed at the dizzying IMAX-shot scenes in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.  In addition, one the most anticipated films of the year, The Dark Knight Rises, will also make heavy use of IMAX.

However, the habit of routinely releasing blockbusters in IMAX is not even a decade old (the first feature-length film released in IMAX was The Matrix Revolutions in 2003).  For most of its history, IMAX was all about the 40 minute documentaries that would show at the Cinesphere.  There are many memorable docs I saw at the Cinesphere as a kid, including Blue Planet and Ring of Fire, that were still in the theatre’s rotation when the announcement was made yesterday.

It’s a real shame that this announcement comes right after the Cinesphere celebrated its 40th anniversary.  Last year the theatre received a full upgrade (including IMAX 3D capabilities) and all that seems to have now gone to waste.  At the very least, the tradition IMAX experience will continue to exist at the Ontario Science Centre’s OMNIMAX theatre (an IMAX theatre with a domed screen that surrounds the room).

It still seems very sad that piece of Canadian cinema history had to close because the government could not afford to run the ground it stands on.

Ontario Place Cinesphere

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).