After almost a decade of sitting idle, and briefly under threat by a controversial condominium development, the Humber Cinema at Jane and Bloor has reopened for business.

The view of the cinema from the south side of Bloor. Photo by Marcus Mitanis, taken 6/2/2011.

The iconic 'ODEON' sign as it stood in 1949.

Cineplex Odeon closed the establishment in 2003, effectively marking the end of twin-screen theatres in Bloor West Village as four years prior Famous Players had abandoned their theatre at Bloor and Runnymede. It is now a Chapters bookstore with much of the interior restored and thankfully intact. Across the river in Etobicoke, the Kingsway Theatre on Bloor near Royal York also closed its doors in 2006, and it was recently resurrected by the same man responsible for the revitalization of the Humber – Rui Pereira. The only choice for moviegoers in the area to experience new films was to drive to the eighteen-screen multiplex Queensway Theatres, a big-box cinema with hundreds of parking spaces.

Rui Pereira, the man behind the curtain. Courtesy of Jayme Poisson of the Toronto Star

Now, residents of the area have an encouraging alternative. The 1940s era movie-house officially re-launched on April 29 with the fifth installment of the Fast and the Furious franchise. It is currently playing Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and business is going well. The movies will be focused primarily on young-adults for the time being, as only the 300-seat main floor screen is operational. The 500-seat auditorium downstairs is under restoration and should be ready by the end of August. The plan is to eventually open two smaller 60-seat theatres in addition to the two larger screens.

The Bloor street entrance needs some TLC, but renovations are ongoing. Photo by Marcus Mitanis, taken 6/2/2011.

A sneak peek of the work commencing in the larger downstairs theatre. Photo by Marcus Mitanis, taken 6/2/2011.

The 500-seat downstairs cinema, circa 1949.

The lobby and ticket counter as it stands today. Photo by Marcus Mitanis, taken 6/2/2011.

The entrance and ticket counter of the theatre as seen in 1949.

Where the brass and copper railings once existed. Photo by Marcus Mitanis, taken 6/2/2011.

The lobby and window to Bloor Street, 1949.

The main lobby and concession stand in 1949.

The ongoing refurbishment of the building is long overdue; Cineplex Odeon had gutted the space entirely of the seats and screens and the structure was home to a family of raccoons for months. Not only that, but the unique brass and copper rails were stolen by vandals, the lobby was water damaged and the furnace was broken. Despite this, $350,000 of renovations have recaptured the past atmosphere.

The building is significant as it is the only remaining original Odeon Theatre in the city. Rui recognizes this as an advantage, hoping to bring back the stylish movie-going days of the 1950s.

The downstairs 500-seat theatre is expected to open in August. Photo by Marcus Mitanis, taken 6/2/2011.

Most of the art deco style has remained. Photo by Marcus Mitanis, taken 6/2/2011.

The back walkway and exits atop the upstairs screen. Photo by Marcus Mitanis, taken 6/2/2011.

The smaller upstairs theatre seats 300 people. Photo by Marcus Mitanis, taken 6/2/2011.

Admission tickets are generally the same as the big-box alternatives, at $12 general, $9 senior, and $8 for children. But for residents of the area who prefer a theatre they could walk to, and with gas prices the way they are, seeing a new release at the Humber is a viable option. 

What do you think about the re-opening of the Humber Cinema? Will you give it a visit?

Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.