Toronto Then and Now: Westwood Theatres - The Intrepid

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Toronto Then and Now: Westwood Theatres

Westwood Theatres Etobicoke Toronto 1974Westwood Theatres, 1974.

Westwood Theatres Etobicoke Toronto 2010Westwood Theatres, 2010.

Despite being a hideous suburban monstrosity with almost no redeeming architectural qualities, Westwood Theatres, a now abandoned Etobicoke cinema, resonates with a lot of people, including yours truly. Before Queensway Cinemas opened at Islington Avenue and The Queensway, Westwood, while not the only game in town, was one of the most convenient, and perhaps the cheapest place to see first-run releases in Etobicoke.

Westwood Theatres Etobicoke Toronto 1974Westwood Theatres, 1974.

Westwood Theatres Etobicoke Toronto 2010Westwood Theatres, 2010. Behold, the mighty condos of Etobicoke!

Westwood opened in 1952 beside the equally monstrous six points interchange (the point where Kipling Avenue, Bloor Street West, and Dundas Street meet) and closed in 1998. The last film I had the pleasure of seeing there—for three dollars—was the 1996 masterpiece, Mars Attacks!.

According to srcushing, a Cinema Treasures commenter who claims to be the theatre's last manager, the final two features shown before the theatre closed were Titanic and Wild Things. (Neither of which seem particularly appropriate.)

"The Westwood had lots of life left," he continues. "[I]t was a discount theatre with first run films. I was selling out shows up until the end."

More recently, the site was used to film scenes for the unbearably shitty Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004). In the film, the roof of the theatre is destroyed by a zombie wielding a rocket launcher, and according to numerous accounts, the "D" in the Westwood sign was damaged during filming. (Dozens of other Toronto locations, including City Hall, also appear in the movie, and are subsequently nuked at the end.)

Westwood Theatre Resident Evil ApocalypseWestwood Theatre Resident Evil ApocalypseWestwood Theatres gets attacked by zombies in Resident Evil: Apocalypse. (Note the American spelling of "theater.")

Speaking of zombies and destruction, the Ontario government plans to demolish Westwood and build a courthouse on the site.

In response, local residents have started a Facebook group to save the theatre's most prominent image: the giant orange and neon green "Westwood" sign.

Bill Brioux, a former Toronto Sun columnist and the man behind the campaign, argues the following in his blog:

For any of us who grew up in that ‘hood, the Westwood letters are as indelible as the Hollywood sign and speak to the same magic, allure and escape movies have to offer. The letters should be saved for their historical value as a symbol of mid-century pop culture. Hard to see them remaining on that site if it is indeed a courthouse...Anyone up for a lost cause?
Any campaign to save the sign would have to move quickly, as construction is slated to begin within the next year, and the government hopes to have the courthouse complete by 2013.

Westwood Theatres Etobicoke Toronto 1974Westwood Theatres, 1974.

Westwood Theatres Etobicoke Toronto 2010Westwood Theatres, 2010.

Right now, the windows to the theatre are all boarded-up, but you can still peak through and see the completely stripped-down lobby. According to Brioux, all the theatres' trappings have long since been removed and some of the newer seats were moved to Runnymede Theatre, which closed shortly after Westwood.

Westwood Theatres Etobicoke Toronto 2010Someone still calls Westwood Theatres home.

The other two long time tenants, the Etobicoke Driving school and a karate dojo, have both moved, leaving the building completely empty. Though I suspect someone may be living in the theatre, as I saw several empty beer bottles and a shopping cart in the lobby, and what looks to be the home of some kind of animal behind the building.

As much as I'd like to save Westwood for nostalgia purposes, I think it's time for the building to go. Although the historian in me loathes seeing anything knocked down, there isn't much about Westwood that's worth preserving (even the sign), and the city desperately needs a new courthouse. In this case, memories and photos will have to do.

The 1974 photos of Westwood Theatres come from the City of Toronto Archives. The 2010 photos are by Stephen M.


Anonymous said...

I remember going to that theater all the time!
I think I saw Aladdin there when I was a kid.

Rob said...

My friend and I were walking by the building this weekend because he had never seen it. As we walked by, I noticed the door was open and so we may or may not have stepped in to the main lobby, and shouted hello. When no one answered, we may or may not have then took a little walk around only do discover that all the doors were open around the whole building. We didn't see any cars in the parking lot and we didn't see anyone around the building, but after a few minutes of (possible) exploration, we felt like the need to leave as it felt like someone was there.

Duke Nukem said...

I also saw Aladdin there as a kid when it opened. Probably my first movie ever.

Rob, I took the same tour. Very eerie.. Children's toys everywhere, and a wheelchair sitting in the middle of a theatre room.

tree_803 said...

I went there and took a look around too. There were children's toys like Duke said, and also some paintings. All the lights were on on the first floor, but nobody was there. I didn't dare go to the basement though, in case there's a crazy axe-murderer living there.

rosie lim said...

When time goes by, there are a lot of improvement of the place too. Like this theatre, there is a lot of changes.

white rock homes for sale

stacey green said...

There is an improvement of this theatre. When I was a kid I like to watch a play on the theatre. Thanks for sharing this.

real estate marketing

steve7876 said...

It's like you study the mind. you manage to grasp a lot around this., just like you had written the making your reservation for this as well as a thing. I do believe that you simply may perform having a number of % to help stress the rub down residence a lttle bit, but rather of the, that is exceptional web site. A wonderful study. Brilliant write-up I have discovered this nowadays. For more info Florence Colvin

steve7876 said...

I recently discovered your blog and still have high hope for this to carry on. Keep up the good perform, their nearly impossible to find beneficial ones. We have added to our faves. As well as the concept of Many thanks. For more info visit on Norma Miller

steve7876 said...

This article is very useful!Apple Ibeacon It is great to renovate your house and to give it a personal touch as it makes you feel good.

steve7876 said...

I have read a few of the articles on your website now, and I really like your style of blogging. I added it to my favorites blog site list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my site as well and let me know what you think.Meath Builders

shahbaz said...

I’ve read some good stuff here. Definitely worth bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how much effort you put to create such a great informative website.Bicycle Injury Lawyer Key West

shahbaz said...

I was being so curious why this all posts talk about compliment with this one. So I just read of what the content of this and began to think that there is no really doubt why this post talks about complimenting and uses praising word about this. So thanks for sharing this great post.recuperação de hd

shahbaz said...

Published my possess houses in a really resident bark festivals, My husband moreover i got judicious in syntax to direct a soul design my hold assignment for me. My husband plus i has been no frustrated as a effect that proved treatment in hungary

shahbaz said...

You have finished a fantastic vacancy. I bequeath definitely plunge it plus personally suggest to my buddys. I am sure they endow be benefited from this position.Search Engine Optimization West Palm Beach

shahbaz said...

IT Schulung und Beratung An 18 Standorten in Deutschland bieten wir anspruchsvollen Führungskräften und Mitarbeitern erfolgreich Seminare.e-learning systems

shahbaz said...

The way this is written makes me think it is for a refrigerator jam...Do you know if I could safely process these in a hot water bath and preserve them?graphic design inspiration

shahbaz said...

This is nice thing in your blog. Its good to given an information to me about things.Thank you for posting.xiaomi redmi note 4 singapore

shahbaz said...

This is quite educational arrange. It has famous breeding about what I rarity to vouch. Colossal proverb. This trumpet is a famous tone to nab to troths. Congratulations on a career well achieved. This arrange is synchronous s informative impolites festivity to pity. I appreciated what you ok extremely here.Pennsylvania Pest Control

Jason Carter said...

Howdy! Much obliged to you for sharing your contemplations about Etobicoke Electrical Services in your general vicinity. I am happy to stop by your site and find out about circuit repairman. Keep it up! This is a decent perused. I will anticipate visit your page again and for your different posts too.

Katrina Kaif said...

The result will be available on our website at 10 AM on the final date. We wish good luck for all the students for their coming result of 5th class.

pec 5th
5th class result2018
class 8th result 2018

ak said...

Thanks for the informative and helpful post, obviously in your blog everything is good.. wordpress

Legal Herbal Online said...

First of all Good day! I would just like to give thanks to the admin who posted this one I really appreciate it thank you.costa toscana hotel sul mare

Legal Herbal Online said...

You’ve got some interesting points in this article. I would have never considered any of these if I didn’t come across this. Thanks!1940s womens fashion

Marina Thompson said...

Amazing read, thanks for helping me out! Download clone hero best songs from: clone hero charts