Remembering the Summer of ’89

by Eric Veillette

This evening, the Bat Signal will illuminate the Annex area of uptown Toronto, but don’t expect to see the Caped Crusader skyjacking out of First Canadian Place with some white-collar criminal. Instead, you’ll find him on the screen at the Bloor Cinema for a 35mm presentation of Tim Burton’s Batman.

I haven’t seen it on a big screen since the Harbourfront Centre did an outdoor series of Burton’s films during the summer of 2003. Tonight’s free screening will be following a free advanced screening of Watchmen.

The buildup during the month of June of 1989 was exhilarating for a 10 year old. The teaser poster was visible everytime you drove by the Victory Theatre on Cedar St. in my hometown of Timmins. Every magazine, newspaper, t-shirt —  you name it — had Batman or The Joker on it. My birthday was a week after the film premiered and seeing the film the day after it opened was an early birthday gift from my uncle. For my birthday itself, everything I got had the Dark Knight on it, from movie programmes, die-cast cars, the novelization and a t-shirt —  one of my favorites — that disappeared a few years later.

I saw the film 7 times over the course of that summer. Six times at a hardtop cinema and once at the drive-in. But it was more than just Batman, as the summer of 1989 was arguably the biggest blockbuster summer of my childhood: Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade, Ghostbusters II, Star Trek V, Honey I Shrunk The Kids, Parenthood and Uncle Buck made some people in Hollywood a few bucks. Some films like UHF didn’t make as much money, but still figure among my favorite films.

So as I sit back in a seat at the Bloor tonight, my head will be boppin’ up and down to the sound of Prince’s phoned-in soundtrack, the muzak for the Smilex ads and Vicki Vale’s constant wailing.

On another note, things have been rather lax at 32 Elvis Movies, but even thoughwe’re in the middle of planning our next screening event, there is some great nostalgia coming your way very soon!

Above photo of the Famous Players Oakville Town Centre, July 1989. The theatre was designed by renown architect Mandel Sprachman, who also re-deisgned famous Toronto theatres such as the Imperial, the Elgin and the Uptown.


  • Tim

    The first photo shown on this site is NOT of Famous Players Queensway (they never had a Queensway)….but of the lovely Oakville Town Centre cinemas in Oakville Ontario. The lobby was terrific, with a blue ceiling to represent the sky and each of the 6 cinema entrances had their own marquee with names of old theatres past as if the lobby itself was a main street and these were all the theatres along it.

  • Tim,

    Thanks for clearing that up. When I acquired the photo all that was noted on the back was “queensway cineplex”; I figured someone would come along with the right info. I do have several photos of the interior of the building taken around the same time. Nothing like seeing a “License to Kill” poster next to the concession stand.

  • Holy crap! The Oakville Town Centre Famous Players!! Had to do a double take there. Spent many a night in this place let me tell you. It’s a Staples now. The other theatre in Oakville (The Oakville Mews) just opened up again. The space was being used by a church group for a while, but the guy who owns the Encore Cinema chain bought it and started screening movies again last year.

  • Wow… I can’t believe I found this. This seems to really be the only photographic documentation of the theatre still in tact. I spent my childhood at this theatre, and was devastated when it was closed down. Eric, did you still have the images of the interior of the theatre? I’d love to relive a few childhood memories if you did! Not only do I remember the opening back in ’89, but I actually remember seeing Batman there during it’s original run. Great times. Thanks for this, Eric!

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