Hot Docs Receives $5 Million Gift from Rogers Foundation; Bloor Cinema to be Rebranded as Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema

This morning it was announced by the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival that they have received a $5 million gift from the Rogers Foundation. $1 million of this gift will be used to establish the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Fund to provide financial support to documentary filmmakers. The remaining $4 million allows Hot Docs to purchase the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema from the Blue Ice Group, with the cinema now to be known as the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema.

Concept art of the new facade of the
Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema

For longtime fan of the Bloor Cinema, this is sure to be bittersweet news. The cinema has a long history in Toronto, first opening in 1913 as the Madison Theatre. After being demolished and rebuilt as the Midtown in the 1940s and receiving a handful of other name changes, the cinema received its familiar name of the Bloor in 1979. While initially a first run theatre run by Famous Players, the Bloor is mostly fondly remembered in the Toronto film community as a rep cinema and hosting film festivals, such as Hot Docs and Toronto After Dark.

The end of the Bloor Cinema almost arrived in 2011, as various property developers were eyeing the location. However, the cinema was saved when it was purchased and renovated by the Toronto-based film production company Blue Ice Group, with the cinema being operated by Hot Docs as a year-round venue for documentaries.

Today’s announcement officially transitions the full ownership of the cinema to Hot Docs, while also marking the end of an era that took up 37 of the cinema’s 103 year history. It is undoubtedly a great thing that Hot Docs now officially has a permanent home of their home, even though it comes at the expense of a branding that Toronto cinema goers have grown to love. In a city that is still hurting from the 2005 renaming of the Toronto Skydome to the Rogers Centre, having Ted Roger’s name replace the Bloor Cinema branding is sure going to be bothersome to many people.

I am sure there are going to be those purists, who will stubbornly continue to call this cinema “The Bloor,” no matter what is written on the sign outside the door. However, this is overall great news and look forward to Hot Docs continuing to develop documentary cinema in Canada.

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).