The Bloor Cinema first opened its doors as a film house in 1913 under the name Madison Picture Palace, making it one of the first “picture palaces” in Toronto. In 2011, after nearly a century of growth, the Bloor Cinema was purchased by the Toronto-based Blue Ice film, a film financing and Production Company, and its partner, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. Under the management of Hot Docs, the Bloor Cinema intends to offer a year-round home for first-run Canadian and international documentaries, as well as special documentary presentations and showcases, including the popular Doc Soup screening series.
Led by Hariri Pontarini Architects, the renovation and addition will enhance the century-old cinema’s atmosphere while still respecting its grandeur and architectural details. Inspired by previous incarnations of the cinema, the expanded lobby features a large transparent wall that will enable open views from the street directly into the auditorium, much as when the building first opened as a vaudeville theatre. Furthermore, in commemoration of the cinema’s 1940s style, when it was known as the Midtown, the refurbished faÇade boasts a large vertical marquee rising along the front of the building. Additional improvements include expanded office space in the fly tower, modern washroom facilities, and state-of-the-art projection and sound equipment.
Launched in 2012, the newly christened Bloor Hot Docs Cinema hosted a series of opening events including special open house screenings for the public. Continuing its longstanding role as a community cinema, it will also host many of the city’s independent film festivals and offer audiences some repertory and specialized fiction film programming.