Paradise on Bloor has been a cherished part of the city’s cultural heritage for nearly a century. When it first opened in 1937, the theatre quickly became a popular destination for movie-goers across the city. It had 643 seats, including a balcony where you could “smoke if you wish.”
Over the years, it has undergone several transformations, including operating as an Italian filmhouse in 1966 when it was purchased by local family the Giacominis. Francesco Giacomini brought unsubtitled 35mm film prints back from Italy every three months to share with the community.
The Paradise Theatre became a part of the Festival Cinemas chain in 1990. Festival Cinemas was known for showcasing repertory and arthouse films in Toronto’s classic single-screen theaters, such as the Bloor (now the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema), Fox, Revue, and the Kingsway in Etobicoke. Paradise shut down in 2006 when Festival Cinemas closed, and remained closed until it’s grand reopening in 2019.
Paradise Theatre underwent a major restoration, which brought this magnificent venue back to its former glory. The restoration process was a long and meticulous one, involving a team of skilled professionals who were committed to preserving the theatre’s rich history and cultural significance.
One of the most impressive aspects of the restoration is the care that was taken to preserve the theatre’s original Art Deco style. This involved a painstaking process of repairing and restoring the theatre’s intricate details, such as its ornate ceiling and wall murals, as well as its elegant fixtures and fittings.
The restoration also included the installation of state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems, which have greatly enhanced the theatre’s acoustics and overall atmosphere. This has made it an even more popular destination for live music events and film screenings.
Perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of the Paradise Theatre’s restoration was the reopening of its balcony. This was an original feature of the theatre, but had been closed off for decades due to safety concerns. However, as part of the restoration process, the balcony has been carefully restored and modernized, allowing visitors to once again experience the theatre from this unique vantage point.
Today the Paradise Theatre is back to being a vibrant and bustling venue that continues to attract visitors from across the city and beyond. Even during the pandemic when the Paradise was closed during lockdowns, the marquee displayed messages of hope, brightening the community.