Independent Cinema Review: Kingsway Theatre

The Kingsway Theatre was first opened in the relatively remote suburb of Toronto in 1940. Renovated and reopened in 2009, the Kingsway is a long-standing Toronto cinema in the west end. It’s fit with a nostalgic and eclectic feel. There are two cinemas in the Kingsway Theatre; one large on the first floor, and another quite small on the second floor.

As far as the first floor goes, it is very wheelchair accessible. There are no stairs into the lobby, there is an accessible washroom, and the main floor cinema is ramped with spaces for wheelchair seating. However, the second cinema is up two flights of stairs and is inaccessible, making some films unattainable for disabled audience goers.

Accessibility – 2/5 WHEELS


On a Friday night, the Kingsway Theatre is very popular. In the small cinema, which is just 32 seats, at near capacity, only five of us were masked, with many favouring cocktails or beers and popcorn. The employee at the concession and ticket booth was unmasked.

COVID-19 Protocols – 1/5 MASKS

Located two minutes walking distance from Royal York subway station, the Kingsway Theatre is perfectly transitable. However, for those more centrally located in the city, it’s a bit of a trek to the west end, Etobicoke even.

Transit-ability – 4/5 TRAINS

Popcorn and drinks were averagely priced at $8-10 and $5-6; their large popcorn is very large, and a bit of a steal and alcoholic beverage prices are comparable to many mainstream establishments. Weekday prices are cheaper than weekend prices and comparable to mainstream cinemas; they are pretty steep.

Prices – 3/5 COINS


The Kingsway Theatre has a very strict no-bag policy for backpacks, tote bags, etc. They are so strict they will ask you to leave should you not comply and store it in the staff room. The theatre opens just 15 minutes before each showtime, meaning there is a line. Any preparatory items like cocktails or sandwiches don’t get to patrons until after the film has started. In the smaller cinema, this was very distracting.

Customer Service – 2/5 HELPING HANDS

The Three Big S’s

Sound: At first, I found the audio too loud. However, I adjusted to it. For a small cinema, the speakers were very impactful, sometimes overbearing, but immersive.


Seating: The seats were comfortable and reclinable. Due to the small size of the cinema, the people in front of me were very visible dark silhouettes, part of my viewing experience but not entirely infringing on my viewing experience.


Screen: At first, I thought it might have been a mistake that there be about a foot at the bottom of the screen left blank, but it actually acted as a buffer for the people sitting in front of you. It was a smart feature that took into account the small size of the cinema. However, I found the screen a little fuzzy at times; I wonder if that possibly has to do with the calibre of the projector and the small size of the room as well.



Films on the Roster

The Kingsway Theatre does not host a monthly calendar or overall initiative for their scheduling; therefore, it is hard to tell how often or if they host Canadian content. However, as of my attendance, no Canadian features were playing.

Canadian Titles – 1/5 BUTTER TARTS

The Kingsway Theatre has an interesting history with midnight screenings of horror favourites. This is continued with many review horror films making it into their late showings on weekends, but nothing else is curated with the same enthusiasm.


They like to throw an international, TIFF pick, or small indie onto their roster. The Kingsway Theatre favours smaller, artistic films on their second run or cult favourites.

Indie vs Mainstream Titles – 4/5 HIPSTERS




About Isobel Grieve 45 Articles
Isobel is a bisexual Toronto-based writer. She has a B.A.H. in English and Media & Cinema Studies from the University of Guelph and a Postgraduate Certificate from the Humber College Television Writing and Producing program. Isobel writes about Arts and Culture; you can follow her @IsobelGrieve on Twitter.