Member of the Month: The Revue Cinema, Toronto, ON

Member of the Month: The Revue Cinema, Toronto, ON

We are startled by the recent news that the team behind The Revue Cinema in Toronto, ON, may have to evacuate premises on July 1, 2024. The Revue is a vibrant, exciting venue with a creative roster of programs that bring out diverse audiences all through the year.

NICE is here to support independent cinemas, and is dedicated to the longevity of The Revue for as long as their operating team is dedicated to showing films.

As such, it is our pleasure to feature The Revue as our Member of the Month. Long live The Revue!

“No cinema in Toronto comes even close to the Revue,” boasts a recent Toronto Life headline—and no wonder, The Revue has garnered a true name for itself with its vibrant and super-collaborative programming that brings out loyal audiences.

Toronto’s oldest operating cinema, The Revue has been at the centre of a cinema-going renaissance in the metropolis, having presented presented over 440 films and special events to over 71,000 people in 2023; a huge leap in attendance from the previous year.

From retro trailer movie marathons to lovingly framed silent film screenings, director of programming Serena Whitney leads a small and mighty team who all bring their areas of expertise to the venue. Don’t forget to grab a canned Tiki cocktail from the concessions bar!

What makes The Revue Cinema unique?

The Revue Cinema is Toronto’s oldest operating theatre and is located in Roncesvalles.

Our not-for-profit organization creates community by bringing film lovers together as we strongly believe in a communal experience. We believe in giving film buffs what they want, but to also give them something different, whether it is a forgotten hidden gem or a rarely-seen genre film on the big screen.

In 2023, we presented over 440 films and special events to over 71,000 people (a huge leap in attendance from the previous year) and we hosted over 148 sold out screenings. We also welcomed over 550 new members to our cinema! This would not be possible without our talented staff and roster of incredible programmers.

We also are fortunate to be able to screen 35mm on the big screen, and we are the only independent theatre in the city that can screen 16mm!

What sort of films do you show?

We are a film lover’s hub, so we like to screen films for every type of movie fan. However, our passion lies with genre films. We are commonly screening horror films, grindhouse films, foreign films and independent new releases. We also love a good anniversary, so we typically screen films celebrating milestones on the big screen!

We are also very supportive of Canadian filmmakers and we always jump at the opportunity to showcase work from filmmakers in our city and/or country.

What are The Revue’s greatest challenges?

Our biggest challenge is being able to acquire the mainstream films in a timely fashion. Since we are a second-run theatre, it is quite common to have to wait 8-12 weeks to screen a mainstream film at The Revue.

However, it is also becoming more challenging too as now certain independent American distributors (who used to let us book films when they were initially released) are now working with Canadian distributors—who won’t let us book the films until the multiplexes are done playing them.

It’s so discouraging to see multiplexes hogging content they know that one-screen independent theatres rely on to survive. We should be able to share the same content, as certain films fare better being screened at independent theatres (specifically indies) than they do at the multiplex.

What are your favourite compliments that Revue Cinema receives from your audience?

We receive a lot of compliments, but our jaws dropped recently when three well-known Canadian directors Matt Johnson, Brandon Cronenberg and Andrew Cividino praised our cinema in a Toronto Life article.

Reading how well known directors frequent The Revue and also publicly state how we are a champion of outside indie cinema and that we are the closest thing to Alamo Drafthouse is beyond high praise!

What’s a memorable film screening or event you hosted?

There are so many memorable screenings at The Revue, it’s hard to just pick one. I recently hosted a sold out 4/20 screening of the live action film Scooby Doo on my 40th birthday and the entire audience sang Happy Birthday to me. It was very surreal and almost made up for the fact that I had to work on a milestone birthday. Ha!

What are your most popular concession items?

Our popcorn is definitely our number one seller at The Revue and we use real butter and we don’t charge extra for it!

Our second most popular concession item would have to be our exclusive canned cocktails made by Alana Nogueda of THE SHAMEFUL TIKI ROOM. Her signature cocktails are amazing and because they are exclusively made just for The Revue, they make us stand out even more and we’re so appreciative of this partnership.

What projects are you considering for the future?

Right now, we are working on developing a trivia night series at The Revue that will involve more than just answering questions. There will be games, interactive elements, special guest hosts and more! We are hoping to premiere these events during the fall season.

Tell us about yourself; how did you get your start in film exhibition?

I’ve been working in event planning since I was 30 (as it was something that I already did for fun with my friends). I got into film exhibition in 2018 when The Revue’s previous Programming Director Eric Veillette took a chance on me and hired me to be a Programmer at The Revue for my Drunken Cinema series.

Once Eric moved on from The Revue, he recommended to The Board of Directors that I should take over the role as Programming Director. It has been three years since I have been the Programming Director and although I can definitely say I had Imposter Syndrome before taking on the role, I can honestly say it the one job I’ve had that I’m proud to say I’m good at and in spite of the constant challenges and long hours, it is also the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. I’m very thankful the public trusts my leadership and our incredible team of Programmers.