Toronto's Hot Docs cinema at Bloor and Bathurst Streets, recently re-dubbed for Ted Rogers, is a century-old theatre that has been dedicated primarily to documentary and original Canadian film since 2011. Thanks to $4M gift from the Rogers family, Hot Docs has purchased the cinema outright from the Blue Ice Group. Now called the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, the much-refurbished building is also notably the proud home of the Canadian International Documentary Festival.
The theatre's resilience over the last hundred years in the face of numerous reinventions, catastrophe, and financial crises, has solidified it as an important piece of Toronto's history. Today, the cinema is not only a shining example of our city's diverse entertainment offerings, but, more importantly, it serves as a one-of-a-kind amenity that continues to enrich Toronto's cultural fabric. For the lucky residents of neighbourhoods that are a mere stroll away - like the Annex, Seaton Village, and Dufferin Grove - the cinema can be the perfect date night destination or the perfect solution to a rainy, gray Sunday afternoon.
On top of all that, we love that the Hot Docs Cinema is an alternative to the city's many unoriginal, monolithic multiplexes, as well as a dedicated year-round home for Canadian content that may not otherwise find an outlet. Save a buck and support home-grown Canadian talent at the same time? Now that is what we call a feel-good night out!
According to bloorcinema.com, "the cinema opened its doors as a film house on December 23, 1913 under the name Madison Theatre, making it one of the first picture palaces in Toronto. By the end of the decade, the Madison was joined in the Annex neighbourhood by Allen’s Bloor Theatre (now Lee’s Palace) and the Alhambra Theatre, both opening in 1919 near the Bloor and Bathurst intersection.
Madison Theatre, 1919. Image courtesy of City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 800.
In 1940, due to a change-over in management, the theatre was completely demolished and rebuilt by world-class theatre architects, Kaplan & Sprachman. In 1941, the newly rebuilt venue opened as the Midtown and remained a popular neighborhood cinema through the 1940s and 1950s, famous for packed weekend matinees and horror double-bills." (bloorcinema.com)
Over the next four decades it closed and reopened under various names, like The Capri, or for one brief stint in the 70s when it screened (highly censored) adult films, The Eden. Finally in 1979 Famous Players closed down the Eden and re-opened it as the Bloor Theatre, offering first-run films for an increasingly family-oriented neighborhood. Within a year it came under new management, who introduced theatre memberships, and the addition of classic and genre programming.
Carm Bordonaro, Bloor Cinema, 1980. Image courtesy of bloorcinema.com
Though it struggled in the following years, it always managed to keep its doors open thanks to smart financing and generous donations. Then in 2011, after turning away various land developers, the cinema management accepted an offer from Toronto-based Blue Ice Group, a film financing and production company, and its partner, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. After some renovations and upgrades, the theatre has never looked better! Though grateful to the Blue Ice Group for essentially saveing the cinema form looming land developers, Hot Docs was weary of leasing the property from the company. Luckily, thanks to a $4M donation from the Ted Rogers family, Hot Docs was able to buy out Blue Ice Group in 2016.
Today, the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema is a historical and cultural mainstay in the Annex community. In 2014 it joined the Bloor St. Culture Corridor (BCC). The corridor runs approximately one mile (1.6 km) along Bloor Street from Bathurst Street to Bay Street, and is home to a dozen permanent world‐class arts organizations presenting professional arts and cultural events for the public year‐round in destination venues.
The Toronto International Film Festival isn't the only world-renowned festival to take place in our city. Every spring, Hot Docs stages North America’s largest documentary film festival; the Canadian International Documentary Film Festival screened more than 170 pictures from over 30 countries last year, and represents the cinema's most well-attended and profitable two weeks.
Our favorite part about the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema (besides the fact that it is fully licensed and serves wine and beer) is that it is the greenest cinema in Ontario. It operates on 100% green electricity through Bullfrog Power, a company that ensures the energy put on the cinema's grid is from clean, renewable sources. Since 2005, Bullfrog Power has put more than three million MWh of green electricity on the Canadian grid and displaced more than one million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the environment. Not bad, eh?
Ted Rogers Hot Docs Cinema Box Office
The Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema box office is open daily from one hour before the first screening of the day until 15 minutes after the start of the last screening of the day.
Want to keep apprised of what’s playing? Subscribe to their Twitter feed (@TheBloorCinema) or visit their website for screening schedules.
506 Bloor St. W,
With decades of experience navigating the highs and lows of our market, and our commitment to remain acutely aware of shifts and trends, we're here to help! All without pressure or hassle.
May we be of assistance to you, or someone you love? Please know we're here to help!
- earn your trust, then your business -
Like what you've read? Consider signing up in the box below to receive our FREE monthly e-newsletter on housing, culture and design including our love for unique urban homes and other Toronto real estate!
Love Canadian Housing? Check out Steve's Student Mentorship site called Houseporn.ca which focuses on architecture, landscape, design, product and real estate in Canada!