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Best Movie Theatre in Kingston

Best Movie Theatre in Kingston, OntarioWith facilities including the Grand Theatre, K-Rock Centre, Screening Room and Market Square, suffice it to say that a majority of Kingstonians head downtown to get their entertainment fix. Sure there’s the massive Cineplex Odeon out on Gardiners Road, but you can always get your dose of Hollywood’s major motion pictures at the Empire Theatre. Or at least you can for the time being. Last week we heard rumours that downtown’s long-standing silver screen–home to weekly student specials, location of my 10th Birthday Party, participating venue in the annual Kingston Canadian Film Festival–would be relocating to their new home at the King’s Crossing at Division and the 401. While students and downtown residents are left to ponder whether they’ll have to choose between Cineplex or the Empire, this week’s poll asks:

Which local movie theatre is the best?

  • The Screeing Room (53%, 61 Votes)
  • Cineplex Odeon (24%, 28 Votes)
  • Empire Theatre (22%, 25 Votes)
  • Other (specify via comments) (1%, 1 Votes)
  • ASUS Movie Theatre (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 115

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At a risk of skewing this week’s poll results to crown the best movie theatre in Kingston, should the rumours regarding Empire’s relocation prove to be true, let us not forget that there is a second movie theatre downtown. Earlier this year, I wrote that The Screening Room was for sale, and that the future of the facility may be in jeopardy. Thankfully a buyer stepped up almost immediately, and we all breathed a sigh of relief that there was still a place to screen art, foreign, and Canadian films. They don’t have the latest 3D blockbuster concoctions, but that’s part of The Screening Room’s charm.

Getting back to this week’s question, and away from both speculation and favouritism, what factors contribute to make for the best movie theatre in Kingston? Do you weigh the selection of films being screened over facility features such as reclining stadium-style seating and hi-def audio and visual equipment? Which local theatre offers the best discounts or customer loyalty rewards program? Would you frequent the movie theatre more often if they operated like our outdoor Movies in the Square, where attendees are encouraged to bring their own treats? Drop off your comments below, and let us know where is the best movie theatre in Kingston.

Thanks to Jukie Bot for today’s photo.

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Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

9 thoughts on “Best Movie Theatre in Kingston

  • November 29, 2011 at 12:41 am
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    It would be sad to see the Capitol end up being something other than a cinema if Empire does choose to go with just the one location out at King's Crossing. The Capitol is the only surviving downtown cinema from the golden age, with almost 90 years of history. Sure it might have had a refit back in the 90's that stole a little of the old magic, but it's still relevant and I find it a hugely enjoyable place to catch a movie – the lack of stadium seating adds to the charm and old time cinema charm, yet the picture is always as clear as newer theaters (if not clearer due to the lack of excessively large screens) and the sound is certainly good enough to get a pass mark.

    Pity so many people can't see beyond the "wow factor" of the cookie cutter big box cinemas, one day none of these old places will be left.

  • November 29, 2011 at 1:13 pm
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    Reported in the Whig the building is for sale. Im sure that space is way too expensive for a discount theatre like Rainbow to take it,

  • November 30, 2011 at 12:48 pm
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    I personally don't mind the new Empire location, it means my parents can now walk to a movie theatre. The new location at King's Crossing makes movies more accessible to a neighbourhood that has been without any entertainment options. Plus with the new hotels in the area, it gives a tourists an easy entertainment option. Picture out of town hockey teams descending on the theatre. Hopefully the new location will have better popcorn, I never liked Empire's cold stale offering.

    I do hope that the existing location can be used as a theatre or perhaps live entertainment venue, or museum of some sort. There's lots of options that could help keep the buildings charm and heritage.

  • November 30, 2011 at 4:24 pm
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    I expect the rent would be much too high for the old building to have any hope of becoming an arthouse theatre, although it would probably make for a fantastic night club.

    • December 1, 2011 at 3:45 am
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      A nightclub? Have you been in the Capitol? The building is far too large to possibly be a nightclub in this city. The location fills up almost half of that city block – it's quite large. I can't begin to imagine what they are asking for the place.

      I could see someone buying the location, keeping the smaller part of the front portion and developing it for retail and then demolishing and redeveloping the back portion into an apartment complex perhaps. The way the building is set up, there is really no use for it outside of being a cinema. The projection booth/cinema layout simply isn't flexible enough. It may be possible to keep the 2 front screens in operation and demolish the rest of the building, which would allow for a small downtown cinema to still exist there.

      • December 1, 2011 at 8:23 am
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        I have to agree with you in that this location is far too large to be only a night club. I honestly can’t imagine it being anything different than a movie theatre, but unless Empire chooses to maintain two locations (not likely), or the Screening Room moves (also not likely), then this may be destined to become something boring. I hope I’m wrong.

  • December 1, 2011 at 11:56 am
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    It's well beyond rumor at this point. A shovel should be in the ground soon.

  • December 2, 2011 at 9:15 am
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    What a shame. Love having a theatre right downtown to walk up and watch matinees in the summer. Boo to the move.

  • December 2, 2011 at 5:44 pm
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    First S&R and now the movie theatre will be gone from downtown. I moved downtown so I could walk to stores and entertainment. In addition to having to drive to get some of my essentials (not all essentials, but S&R did cover a variety of my needs and all under one roof), looks like I'll also have to drive elsewhere for mainstream movies. Disappointing; however, still planning to support the Screening Room.

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