TERROR ON THE KINGSWAY - PART 2: This Time, it's Personal!
July 10, 2009
Copyright 2009 WhipTV
Rui Pereira, acting General Manager, Kingsway Theatre
Patrons at the Kingsway Theatre last night got a first hand encore of the growing tensions
between theatre partner/investor, Rick Ross, and management.
On a routine visit to monitor the theatre operation Ross paused briefly in the theatre
auditorium, around 4:15PM, well into the 3PM showing. "I had only been in the theatre a couple
of minutes when I was approached by Rui [Pereira]", said Ross, "and without even a word, he
grabbed me and began punching me among patrons viewing the playing feature."
Ross continued, "The incident was horrifying. He continued the violent assault out into the
street as I tried to retreat from his attack. I don't have a clear recollection of what happened
at that point as Rui was strangling me with my tie. I do recall I was struggling for air face
down on the pavement of Bloor St. as he continued choking me."
Ross after bludgeoning by Pereira
Ross felt fortunate that a local store operator, Robert Chin from Excalibur Comics came to his
rescue, "I truly believe Rui had lost complete control at that point and would have continued
until I was unconscious, or worse."
Dismayed by police reaction to the event, Ross said, "The entire event was very surreal. The police
and ambulance did eventually arrive but no report was taken from me. Instead, I was advised to never
return to the theatre. I was clearly beaten and yet I got virtually no support."
Mr. Ross was taken by ambulance to Toronto Western Hospital. He was released Friday morning after
undergoing a facial CT scan and treatment for numerous head injuries.
This event again calls into question the continued operation of the theatre as its largest investor
and majority partner is now reconsidering his involvement.
Rui Pereira, acting General Manager, Kingsway Theatre
It was a promotion for horror movies at The Kingsway Theatre, but
Terror On The Kingsway became all too real Friday afternoon.
Rui Pereira, acting General Manager of The Kingsway, physically
assaulted Rick Ross, the majority investor in the theatre, on Bloor
Street in front of the theatre. According to Mr. Ross, "My company,
SwitchWorks Technologies, provided the majority of financing and labour
to renovate The Kingsway. I came by to pick up the tools and equipment
that are still here from the renovation. Rui [Pereira] flew into a
rage, told me to get out, and physically wrestled me out the front
Mr. Ross went on to say that Mr. Pereira has treated the renovation and
operation of the theatre more like a sole proprietorship than the
partnership that it is. The three partners are Mr. Ross, Mr. Pereira,
and Ivan Martinovic, a local architect.
"He [Mr. Pereira] changed the locks, denies me access, and has
attempted to seize control of the company and operations. As far as I
can tell, he's personally running the theatre twelve hours a day, seven
days a week. We've been communicating through lawyers, but it looks
like he's using the legal system to try and delay resolution to the
partnership differences indefinitely," said Mr. Ross.
Crowd Control Devices
Mr. Ross explained that the altercation lasted for approximately half
an hour with Mr. Pereira coming outside repeatedly to verbally assault
him, threaten him with a crowd control stand, kick, push, and punch
him. Mr. Ross said Mr. Pereira claimed to have called the police. "I
said, 'Good. I'm waiting for the police.'," said Mr. Ross. When the
police did not arrive, Mr. Ross filed an incident report against
Mr. Pereira at 22 Division, with assault charges pending.
"I'm now considering shutting down the operation," said
Mr. Ross, "I can't see the partnership being salvageable and I'm very
concerned about Rui's behaviour and his ability to maintain this kind
of pace much longer. The reputation of the theatre and the viability of
the business are at stake. Projects like this are only sustainable
through partnerships within the business and within the community.
There is no partnership left in this project."
Mr. Ross said the altercation was witnessed by an employee of The Kingsway, an employee of SwitchWorks, many people
on the street, and people in neighbouring businesses who came outside to see what was going on.
MICHAEL STUPARYK/TORONTO STAR
Rui Pereira, who spearheaded the resurrection of the Kingsway at 3030 Bloor St. W., on the theatre’s marquee.
Consider it a second run at life for a former second-run theatre.
than two years after it was believed to be shuttered for good, the
Kingsway theatre is up, running and screening films, although this
resurrection is banking on newer movies as its strategy moving forward.
are no longer a repertory theatre," says Rui Pereira, the project
manager who spearheaded the theatre's return. "What we're trying to do
is run as many first-run movies, or films that are currently playing,
as possible, and holding them for a longer period of time, so typically
for a week to two weeks. This way, we have more exclusive films as
opposed to trying to compete with a lot of the films that have already
gone to DVD."
Officially, the Kingsway, on Bloor St. W.
just west of Royal York Rd., reopened on Jan. 2, but Pereira has been
working on getting it back in shape since August. It's not finished
yet, as there are still some soundproofing and wall treatments to be
done, but the goal is to keep the special feel of the heritage building.
a different experience. Not to put down the multiplexes, because I
enjoy going to them too, but this is different. You're time-travelling
back to the 1930s. This film theatre was built in 1939 and it's just a
different feel. There's not a lot of single screen theatres left, and
this theatre is part of the history of this area and of Toronto."
is obviously passionate about going to movies and has worked in
theatres for much of his life, including the Eglinton Theatre.
That was his favourite theatre, he said, but it is now run as an event space.
also studied and worked as an architect, so the chance to combine both
of his passions at the Kingsway was an opportunity he couldn't pass up.
much of the heavy lifting has been done in restoring the venue to its
former glory, Pereira says the goal now is make sure that there's a
varied amount of programming, and to spread the word about what's
happening at the theatre.
"I think they're pretty much
amazed in the neighbourhood, because the theatre sat closed for almost
2 1/2 years. They really thought that was it. It was over," he
"But now people here are very supportive of the
theatre being reopened. We have people coming in all the time,
complimenting us and, for the most part, it has just been a case of
being surprised. They didn't expect it to come back."
ETOBICOKE: Kingsway Theatre reopens
Home-entertainment company renovates the historic repertory theatre closed since 2006
The curtain has risen once again on the two years-darkened Kingsway Theatre.
Newly renovated, the historic neighbourhood movie house opened to little fanfare last Friday with two critically
acclaimed films, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and Rachel Getting Married, which ran through yesterday.
Tonight, recently released films Four Christmases (7 p.m. and matinees at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday) and
The Spirit (9 p.m.) open for a week's run.
Opening night was quiet, in part, because renovations are not quite complete.
Topping the list of outstanding repairs is fixing the wiring and fixtures for the letters K, I and Y in the cinema's
original neon-green marquee. Raccoons gnawed the marquee's wiring during the theatre's 30-month closure.
Demolition and renovations began in August.
"The theatre was in rough shape before it closed, and became worse after it closed," general manager Rui Pereira
said at the theatre Wednesday, as curious passersby peeked through the front window.
"All the carpets had to be removed. The women's bathroom was completely unusable. There was a bad odor throughout
New front doors and a candy bar are on order. Finishing touches include polishing the lobby's Terrazzo floors to a high
gloss, and installing sound panels on the theatre walls to reduce echo.
New seats, installed before the closure, have been reupholstered.
additions include wheelchair access, now available in the theatre's
back row, and the construction of an accessible washroom.
The company behind the reno is Whip TV, a subsidiary of Toronto-based SwitchWorks Technologies Inc.
The parent company hopes the Kingsway's revival will not only raise awareness of Whip TV and its three-part home
entertainment and communications package, but bring Hollywood blockbusters, as well as smaller art films, to the Bloor
Street West and Royal York Road neighbourhood.
Matinees, likely older Disney films, are expected to run regularly next summer.
"People were disappointed when the theatre closed. I think there will be a lot of interest in it reopening," Pereira
said, adding the location is prime, nestled in a residential neighbourhood, as well as a popular walking area for shops
The Festival chain of theatres, including Kingsway, the Revue and the
Royal, closed in 2006, following the death in 2004 of owner Peter
McQuillan. The Royal on College Street was reopened, with a new editing
and sound-mixing facility in September, 2006, while the Revue on
Roncesvalles Avenue reopened as a non-profit, community-run theatre in
Gone is the Kingsway's former memberships.
Ticket admission is $10 (adults), and $8 (seniors 65-plus and children
14 and younger).
Pereira said he isn't concerned about Cineplex Odeon's nearby Queensway theatre. "We're not competing with Cineplex's
Queensway theatre. This is a different experience that goes back to community theatre. This is one of few of them left."
The film industry, including theatres, seem immune to the economic
downturn, Pereira said, as patrons look for an escape, as well as
Pereira said he expects to be screening first-run films later this month.
Movies are Finally Back at the Kingsway!
Stephen Michalowicz Torontoist
January 1st, 2009
After a year of Whip TV’s cryptic advertisements that hinted at it, the Kingsway
Theatre will officially reopen this Friday after hosting a special sneak peek and open house (featuring a free screening of
Spike Milligan’s 1962 comedy The Postman’s Knock)
last night. The art deco theatre, located at 3030 Bloor Street West
near Royal York Road, opened in 1939, but has been closed since 2006.
Before the doors were open to the public last night, Torontoist got
taken on a tour by the theatre's new manager, Rui Pereira.
The theatre's original projectors are still humming away (top), while
the front lobby waits for a concession stand (bottom).
Switchworks Technology, a local high-speed internet provider and the company behind
Whip TV, decided to lease the theatre and run movies again in an effort to promote
its internet, phone, and web TV services. "It was a good opportunity," explained Pereira. "We want to use the theatre to
promote our triple play product through screen ads and flyers."
Though renovations have been ongoing for four months, a lot of work still needs to be done. "We still have to get a new
candy table, new doors, and a surround sound system," said Pereira. "But most of the equipment is original." The famous
old marquee—the most recognizable part of the façade—will even be put back into use, though it still requires repairs.
"When we started the renovations we found a nest of raccoons living in there," chuckled Pereira. "They chewed through
all the wires." The marquee will even feature all of the original lettering (with the exception of three
letters that were beyond repair), which Pereira and his staff have painstakingly reassembled.
Unlike the old Kingsway, the newly renovated theatre will not be
showing second-run releases. "The Rogers [Video] across the street can
do that," said Pereira. "We’re going to be showing fresh stuff, but we
don’t have anything planned after the first week. We hope to eventually
show first run releases and children’s matinees during the day." Ticket
prices will be $10 for adults and $8 for children and seniors.
The theatre will officially reopen with The Boy in Striped Pajamas,
the story of a friendship set between the wires of a Nazi concentration camp, and
Rachel Getting Married, the TIFF-debuted
tale of a daughter returning from rehab for a family wedding—a tad
depressing for the grand reopening of an iconic Etobicoke landmark. But
things are looking significantly more sunny for the new year: a Bloor
Cinema–style theatre is just what the west end needs.
Though renovations are not quite complete, cinema will officially reopen its doors tomorrow after two
years of disuse.
The gloomy economic forecast is the perfect subplot for one new venture opening its doors in Bloor
West Village tomorrow night.
After two years in the dark, the renovated Kingsway Theatre will open with two critically acclaimed films,
and a request for understanding from its patrons.
After all, the renovations are not quite complete.
The candy counter is temporary and the cinema walls are awaiting some final touches, but Rui Pereira, who
is managing the project, said it was important to officially lift the curtain, if only to appease the
locals who have been knocking on the doors.
"Any restoration job like this is usually filled with surprises. This is no exception," Mr. Pereira
said yesterday as the cinema, located at Bloor and Royal York, prepared for its soft-opening New Year's
Eve screening of Spike Milligan's The Postman's Knock.
Two years of disuse had taken its toll on the building, and when workers tried to fix the Kingsway's
neon sign, they found some unexpected guests had taken up residence.
A nest of raccoons had moved into the marquee, and they had been happily gnawing away at the wires.
Still, functioning sign or not, the company behind the renovation - Whip TV - has decided it's time to
let the shows begin.
"We wanted to get the theatre open as soon as possible. There's always stuff you have to do [but] at
some stage, you have to draw the line," Mr. Pereira said.
"I think [patrons] will be reasonably forgiving seeing the thing's been closed for so long."
The economic outlook is the gloomiest in years, and businesses across the GTA are already feeling the pinch
of tightening budgets.
But for the cinema business, Mr. Pereira said the worst of times are often the best of times.
"Usually when the economy slump comes on, the movies do better. It's a cheaper form of entertainment,"
And other repertory theatres are welcoming the new venture.
Tim Bourgette, manager of the Revue Cinema in Roncesvalles Village, said it was great to see another of
the former Festival cinemas being brought back to life.
"It offers a different experience than going to a multiplex," Mr. Bourgette said. "The more of the
older venues, the better."
Competition is of little concern. Like the Revue, the Kingsway will likely draw on its neighbourhood
and passing traffic for patrons.
And there seems to be plenty of business to go around. Even with the dour financial news, "we all seem to
be getting by," Mr. Bourgette said. If anything, patronage is on the rise.
"What's more of an issue from a competition standpoint is other media, like DVDs," Mr. Bourgette said. "We
are definitely sensitive to the economic situation, but we're hopeful it's not going to affect us."
And in a city Toronto's size, Mr. Bourgette said, there is plenty of room for one more old-style cinema.
"It's a really big city, and if you can get 50 or 100 people to show up [to each screening], that's all
you really need to do to be viable," he said. Still, he added, "there are easier ways to make a dollar."
The Kingsway Theatre will open with The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and Rachel Getting Married. Mr.
Pereira hopes to be screening first-run films by the end of the month.
Remaking the Kingsway
Marc Weisblott Eye Weekly
November 05, 2008
Today on the Scroll: More updates from the future — of this column, website, and entire multi-platform
media enterprise — with a peek behind the curtain of one of those surviving neighbourhood movie theatres that Toronto
only gets all sentimental over the moment they risk being closed. In this case, almost
two-and-a-half years after showing its last pictures as a
repertory theatre, the Kingsway plans to buck the second-run default in favour of a true throwback:
new movies, just slightly off the beaten path.
A new sound system is being installed, amongst other aesthetic improvements, with the hope of re-opening later this month.
Rui Pereira spent about a dozen years working in a local corporate bijous that predated the multiplex,
starting as a 19-year-old in 1986 at the Showcase on Yonge south of
Bloor — once and again named the New Yorker, now the tourist-trapping live musical
Panasonic Theatre. Later, he did time at the
Cineplex Odeon Humber in Bloor West Village — closed in 2003,
waiting for someone to figure out what to do with it ever since. Most sentimental for him, though, was a few years
working at the Eglinton, ditched by then-owner Famous Players
in 2001, right after being ordered to incoprorate
While most of the other surviving local theatres situated along sidewalks were adopted at one time or another by the
Festival Cinemas chain, their decision to give
up those ghosts in June 2006 led to an outpouring of sentiment, if considerably out of tune with what became
the reality of the second-run cinema business: assembly-line Hollywood for a couple of bucks less in the narrowing
window prior to DVD.
Reality was that no one was going to take the time and money to trek across town to see something unique,
knowing there were easier methods of watching it at home. So, the double-bills got more predictable, but even that
centre could not hold.
"The Rogers video store across the street from here is second-run now," says Pereira between shifts of supervising
the renovation. "Running this kind of theatre also means you have to be in tune with the surrounding neighbourhood."
SwitchWorks Technologies, the company Pereria works for, secured a lease from the
Kingsway building’s owner in August. The no-longer "final" screenings coincided with a hasty effort to designate
the building a heritage site, ensuring that its circa 1939 art deco elements be preserved in any future development.
Turns out that, in the Etobicoke strip originally designed to evoke
old-timey England — albeit in the age of the automobile — movies
remained the best idea anyone had for the building at 3030 Bloor St. W.
The renovation effort is also designed to steer attention to SwitchWorks’ service, WHIP tv,
offering a broadband streaming media television package that focuses on ethnic niche channels, but also the infamously
regulation-defying channel Star Ray TV.
Pereria thinks that being alongside the Royal York subway station can only work in the new Kingsway’s favour — perhaps
even luring people with little awareness of the area — although local demand will factor in the decisions of what flicks
will play for two to four weeks at a time. The idea is to bring the movies that tend to draw audiences at the Cumberland
and Varsity about 10 kilometres west, while never overlapping with the nearby Cineplex-owned Queensway.
Curiously enough, the big-chain cinema business in Toronto has never
swung back around to the idea of salvaging an old movie house, if just
for sentimental reasons. Three other theatres attached to the Festival
chain at its end, the Fox, Revue and
have all resumed operations independent of one another, each having
applied distinct survival strategies. That leaves the Paradise — which
Pereria investigated into taking over, to no avail — still standing
vacant, although recently removed graffiti
would suggest some stirrings.
Meanwhile, the century-old Bloor Cinema, which has been managed independently
for the past decade, provides Pereira with inspiration of how a theatre can survive without leaning on last-chance
screenings of movies that cycled out of the gargantuan AMCs, even if they still do some of that. But not unlike its
anachronistic counterpart in a sleepy neighbourhood, the Mt. Pleasant, plans for the Kingsway are banking on the
theory that playing one movie on one screen for consecutive evenings can still draw a crowd.
"People can complain about a disappearing theatre all they want," says Pereira. "But for the purpose of being
able to stay in business, it always comes down to one basic question — did you actually bother going when it was there?"
A small home-entertainment company is going to kick some life into the iconic Kingsway theatre. Locals
Two years after closing amid the demise of the Festival Cinemas group, the Kingsway is making its comeback.
A handful of signs and one small message posted to an Internet chat board this week announced
that "The Kingsway Theatre will open soon and play movies once again."
The building at 3030 Bloor St. W. is being renovated by Toronto-based communications company
SwitchWorks Technologies Inc., which aims to open the facility in November.
SwitchWorks will run the cinema through its subsidiary, Whip TV. The parent company hopes the
Kingsway's revival will not only raise awareness of Whip TV and its three-part home communication
and entertainment package, but also bring Hollywood offerings back to the wealthy Bloor-Royal
"These older theatres are an addition to the community ... . You can see throughout the city where
theatres have closed, things have kind of dried up," said SwitchWorks' Internet television director,
Rui Pereira, who is managing the Kingsway project.
Built in 1939, the art deco Kingsway cinema carved a new path in Toronto film-going when high-school
friends Tom Litvinskas and Jerry Szczur rented the theatre in 1974 using money intended for Mr.
Szczur's university education. The pair would go on to build the Festival Cinema Group of repertory
With 99-cent double bills and an eclectic choice of films, the Kingsway drew an offbeat crowd,
its reputation heightened when a man came rushing into the theatre during a screening of The Texas
Chainsaw Massacre armed with a roaring chainsaw.
But the Festival chain folded in 2006, following the death of Mr. Litvinskas in 2002 and the sale
of the Kingsway, Revue and Royal repertory theatres, all of which closed in June, 2006.
The Royal on College Street was reopened, with a new editing and sound-mixing facility, in September
of that year, while the Revue on Roncesvalles Avenue reopened as a non-profit community-run cinema
in September, 2007.
The Kingsway, however, has sat empty and unused.
Revue manager Tim Bourgette said the closure of the Festival screens helped trigger a resurgence in
local support for neighbourhood cinemas.
"If they don't use it, we're not going to be around again," Mr. Bourgette said. "In a way, the shutdown
of some of the Festival locations was a real wake-up call for the city. It was a case of 'don't know
what you've got till it's gone.' Now people are really turning out to support the cinemas."
SwitchWorks signed a lease on the premises this month, and is currently renovating the building for
a preliminary November opening. New carpets will be laid, a new candy bar built, projection equipment will
be upgraded and the iconic marquee is to be restored, Mr. Pereira said.
The new operators hope the cinema will be fully operational by late December to show first-run movies.
Reaction in the Etobicoke neighbourhood has been one of surprise and support, Mr. Pereira said.
"I guess they felt that after a couple of years the theatre would never reopen, or at least never reopen
as a movie theatre," he said. "The theatre here did well and had a loyal following. They've been longing
for the theatre to reopen, so I think there'll be a lot of interest here."
But cinema operators across the city had a few words of caution about the business: Toronto loves its
film, but that doesn't make it easy to make a buck from film alone.
Rising costs have hit everything from distribution fees to popcorn prices, and most cinema operators
are finding other uses for their space, from screen rentals to housing jazz concerts. The Bloor Cinema
is even introducing in-house film production to help lend support to local filmmakers.
"There's a lot of ways to make the theatre profitable, beyond just making it a movie theatre," said
Daniel Demois, co-owner of the Fox on Queen East, another former Festival rep house.
"The movies themselves aren't the only thing you can do with a movie theatre. I'm not sure exactly what
[the Kingsway's] model is going to be. Being so close to the [Cineplex Odeon] Queensway theatre,
they'll probably have to do something a little bit different, but it's encouraging."
Kingsway Theatre Designated of Cultural Heritage Value
February 20, 2008
Copyright 2008 WhipTV
A recent move to designate the Kingsway Theatre as being of cultural
heritage value or interest was successful. On February 20th, 2008, the
City of Toronto passed a bylaw protecting the historic theatre, and
ensuring that any future development at the site must maintain the
original 1920's Art Deco design and style. To view the bylaw itself, click here.
Toronto recognizes importance of Kingsway Theatre to be of historical significance