Sad, but inevitable I’m afraid, news out of Toronto today, as one of the last few fully independent Repertory Cinemas, The Toronto Underground Cinema, announced that it was shuttering its doors permanently come September. Issues with the building owners (involving a liquor license) as well as the ongoing slow death of 35mm print distribution have pushed the financials of operating a 700 seat repertory house beyond any fiscal sense for the three owners: Nigel Agnew, Charlie Lawton, and Alex Woodside.
More than a few patrons were often confused by the well spaced scheduling of regular programming at The Underground since it quite successfully hosted Toronto After Dark’s sixth year (The Bloor Cinema, TADFFs usual haunt, was under massive renovations before gathering Patronage from HotDocs as a supported repertory venue. TADFF announced a few weeks ago that it was however returning to the Bloor come October.) With the Lightbox just around the corner, and even the corporate Cineplex up the street getting into the Rep Cinema game (showing Roman Holiday, Blazing Saddles, Robocop and such on occasional Sunday afternoons), not to mention Cinecycle, The Bloor, Projection Booth, and several other operational Rep cinemas all vying for the same eyeballs, it was only a matter of time before the shoe dropped on someone. That someone is Toronto Underground.
Personally, I’ve seen such diverse films as Hard Core Logo, The Innkeepers, A Lonely Place to Die, Speed Racer, Ghostbusters II, Fright Night, Manborg, Pontypool, and Mad Monkey Kung Fu. The venues specialty was always 1980s trash cinema, something that has a close place in my heart. TUC opened its doors in 2010 with a double bill of Clue: The Movie and Big Trouble in Little China and will close September with screenings of apocalyptic horror film Night of the Comet and concert Doc, The Last Waltz.
In the immortal words of Jack Burton, Toronto rep cinema-goers should heed the following advice: “You people sit tight, hold the fort and keep the home fires burning. And if we’re not back by dawn… call the president. “