Toronto's 10 Best Movie Theatres

From huge screens to humble institutions, these are the city's must-visit cinemas for film fans

BY Rachel Ho and Alex HudsonPublished Apr 15, 2024

Within Toronto (and a touch outside city limits), cinephiles and blockbuster junkies have a lot to be grateful for. On top of the latest Hollywood releases and home-grown CanCon, thanks to our many cinemas, we've also got access to films from around the world and classics to revisit and discover.

Some cinemas have heritage designations and date back to the early 1900s, while theatres like the Cineplex Cinemas Yonge-Eglinton and VIP have recently added state of the art Ultra AVX and IMAX experiences for audiences to enjoy movies at their most optimal. We enjoy watching a film on a cracked iPhone of the back of an airplane seat as much as the next person, but sometimes the in-theatre experience just can't be beat.

There's a lot of options to comb through, and, after navigating through a lot of popcorn and sticky floors, here are our picks for the best cinemas in Toronto and the GTA for your viewing pleasure.

5 Drive-In
2332 Ninth Line, L6H 7G9

They are few and far between these days, but the romance of the drive-in lives on just west of Toronto in the suburb of Oakville. Opened in 1964, the 5 Drive-In now has three screens, in-car food delivery service and new releases to fill up the obligatory double feature. As the weather warms up, head out west for a taste of movie-watching magic from a bygone era.

Fox Theatre
2236 Queen St E, M4E 1G2

The Fox Theatre opened its doors in 1914 as the Theatre Without a Name and has served the Beaches neighbourhood ever since. An independent theatre that mixes new indie releases, foreign films and the classics, walking into the single-screen cinema is a real blast to the past. From the old-school marquee, intricate tiled ceilings and dizzying carpet, the Fox Theatre isn't the fanciest or comfiest, but its charm and warmth will always prevail.

Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema
506 Bloor Street West, M5S 1Y3

Given documentary's roots in Canada, it's only fitting we include the only cinema that (almost) exclusively screens documentaries from Canada and around the world. Located in the heart of the Annex, the actual building itself has been around since 1913, acting as a theatre since its inception. As such, the theatre retains a lot of its turn-of-the-century structure, including second-floor balcony seating. Pro-tip: the best seats in the house are actually on the balcony! (Front row, middle seats.)

Imagine Cinemas: Carlton and Market Square
20 Carlton Street, M5B 2H5 and 80 Front Street East, M5E 1T4

Not that there's anything wrong with the comfy stadium seating of modern cinemas, but we've still got a soft spot for the classic '90s multiplex quirkiness of Toronto's two Imagine Cinemas locations. We're particularly fond of the Carlton, which offers vodka slushies at concession and has some quirky, weird-shaped screening rooms in its maze-like complex.

The IMAX Experience 
Cinesphere Theatre: 955 Lake Shore Blvd W, M6K 3B9
Scotiabank Theatre Toronto: 259 Richmond St W, M5V 3M6
Cineplex Cinemas Vaughan: 3555 Hwy 7 W, L4L 6B1
Cineplex Cinemas Yonge-Eglinton and VIP: 2300 Yonge St, M4P 1E4

In addition to Allan King, David Cronenberg and John Candy, IMAX stands as one of Canada's greatest cinematic exports — and the monstrously immersive format, notably favoured by Christopher Nolan and Denis Villeneuve, naturally has multiple homes across the city and beyond. Some favourites include the temporarily closed Cinesphere at the place formerly known as Ontario Place and the OG 1:43 screen at Scotiabank Theatre on Richmond Street.

For those unable to make it to downtown proper, the new IMAX theatre at the Cineplex at Yonge-Eglinton serves the northeast, while Cineplex Cinemas Vaughan's IMAX 70 mm film projection facilty caters to the northwest. Undoubtedly, the best way to see films like Oppenheimer and Dune: Part Two is IMAX; visually and sonically, it's a cinematic experience that's hard to beat.

Landmark Cinemas 24 Whitby
75 Consumers Dr, L1N 9S2

As VIP theatres increase in popularity across Cineplex locations, the offering of plush recliner seats for $25 a pop doesn't impress me. Imagine my surprise then when I discovered that Landmark was offering those same plush recliner seats for the price of a regular ticket! It's a ways east from Toronto — but for the comfort, price and pick-and-mix candy bar, much like Acton, it's worth the drive every time.

Paradise Theatre
1006c Bloor St W, M6H 1M2

A brisk 20-minute walk west of the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, the Art Deco-styled Paradise Theatre is home to live performances and curated classic films, presented by the theatre itself and various film societies around the city. A variety of screening series fill the Paradise's schedule, including Drag Me to the Movies (hosted by award-winning queer artist and curator Weird Alice) and Contours (programmed by critic and curator Saffron Maeve), creating an eclectic offering for Bloorcourt Village residents.

Revue Cinema
400 Roncesvalles Ave, M6R 2M9

The West End's answer to the Fox Theatre, Revue Cinema has the honour of being Toronto's oldest movie theatre still in use. The Revue temporarily closed its doors from 2006 to 2007 when the founding family shuttered the cinema after 94 years of operation. Highlighting the grassroots atmosphere and neighbourhood vibe of the cinema, local residents Danny and Letty Mullin saved the theatre from permanent closure and remain the owners today — and the frequent lines around the block indicate that the theatre is in good hands. The curated film selection and passionate audiences make for a vibrant and cozy cinematic experience with an old-school concession stand to boot.

The Royal Theatre
608 College Street, M6G 1B4

Situated on a particularly cool stretch of College Street in Little Italy, the Royal was built in the '30s and carries a ton of history. It's probably not where you're going to see the latest Hollywood blockbuster — but with special screenings and boutique film festivals, as well as live events like stand-up comedy and burlesque, it remains an essential treasure of Old Toronto. The cool-ass façade appeared prominently in locally shot movies like Take This Waltz and The F Word.

TIFF Lightbox
350 King St W, M5V 3X5

A literal cornerstone of Toronto's current cinema landscape, the TIFF Lightbox houses some of the best projection in the city, a film reference library, special exhibits and galleries, a programme filled with local Canadian fare, and the best international cinema has to offer — and of course, the headquarters for the annual Toronto International Film Festival. With some of the city's cushiest seats, the Lightbox will always be a comfortable watch and, technically speaking, the best non-IMAX sound and picture Toronto has to offer.

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