When the place first opened it was more of an art-house theatre, for the most part, with subtitled movies, a cafe, art hanging on the walls and everything. When I was a kid, I saw the strangest films there – Storm Boy, The Public Enemy with James Cagney, weekly 2-for-1 double-bills of James Bond movies, shown in chronological order (it was here where I renounced my childhood delusion that Roger Moore was James Bond when I caught up with all the Connery ones).
Around 1982, the programming became more mainstream, more in keeping with what films the mall culture would want to see. This was around the time Drabinsky made his big play for expansion of the Cineplex corporation into the States – it all started when they programmed Blame It On Rio there… eventually all the art-house programming went up to the Carlton and all the little screens of the Eaton Centre filled up with all the hot, obvious titles that played and played until they got cold, which could sometime take months. The further back you went into the bowels of the complex, the older the movies got.
This was where I discovered the genius of Steven Seagal, appreciated the glorious output of the Golan-Globus action-movie sausage machine (Ninja III: The Domination! Cyborg!) and saw pretty much every late-eighties James Woods movie (Cop! The Boost! Best Seller!). One of my cherished memories was when friends of mine and I went to see Satisfaction with Justine Bateman one Tuesday night. It was playing on two screens. One theatre was sold out; the screening we went to, we had the place to ourselves. But the box office prices were that of an actual movie theatre most of the time, and then they junked cheap Tuesdays, so eventually I swore off the place.
I was convinced Cineplex would keep running the place until the last lightbulb burned out. This apparently happened in 2001. And then, a few weeks after it closed, down came the whole building. The last film I saw there was Coyote Ugly, and the theatre smelled a bit tangy that afternoon.
Jesse Hawken blogs over at the Telekino Times-Picayune.
[The Cineplex Eaton Centre opened on Tuesday, April 17, 1979. The first films to play there were: The Tree of Wooden Clogs, The Shout, Purple Taxi, Rain and Shine, Queen of the Gypsies, Newsfront, The Rubber Gun, and Tommy. Also accompanying the films were various shorts, some of which were produced by the NFB. -Ed.]