10 Of The Best Movie Theatres In Canada

From Canada's longest running theatre to the newest 4DX smell-o-vision, these are cinema experiences you can't find online.
10 Of The Best Movie Theatres In Canada

(Photo, Tristan Bellmane)

Sometimes, watching Netflix on your phone just doesn't do a movie justice. We've rounded up the coolest movie theatres across the country that will remind you of how awesome it is to see films on the big screen—with nothing but delicious buttered popcorn (and maybe a pop) in your hands.

The Patricia Theatre in Powell River, B.C.

The Patricia Theatre is the longest continuously running movie theatre in Canada —it started out as a silent movie house back in 1913. Despite updating the theatre with digital equipment and surround sound, the owners have managed to maintain its historic aesthetic integrity and the theatre’s live-performance acoustics. The history of the place draws back regulars, as well as the “Cheep-Cheep” ticket nights on Mondays (except during the premiere weeks of new releases) where tickets are only $6 for everyone. The theatre is also wheelchair accessible, as long as you call ahead of time to reserve a box space.

best movie theatres canada: interior shot of patricia theatre with red seats and peacock murals(Photo, Tristan Bellmane)

TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto, Ont.

When it’s not hosting bigshot Hollywood celebrities as the centrepiece of the Toronto International Film Festival, this iconic theatre offers lectures, other festivals, and movie screenings year-round, among a slew of other events. The sleek and modern building offers five screens (plus comfy seats) on which to catch retrospectives and new indie flicks, as well as two restaurants, a film reference library, and a gift shop. Since opening in 2010, it has quickly become a mainstay for cinema buffs. 

best movie theatres canada: TIFF volunteers guide visitors outside TIFF Bell Lightbox(Photo, Charles Leonio/WireImage/Getty for TIFF)

Cineplex Cinemas Seton and VIP in Calgary, Alt.

Calgary only has one VIP Cineplex theatre so far, but the locals are already leaving rave reviews about the VIP experience. Enjoy dinner and a movie all in a more-intimate theatre, with food and beverage service straight to your heated reclining seat (served before the movie, of course). The best part for adults? The 19+ age limit means you can enjoy your movie in peace with a side of booze. Cheers! 

best movie theatres canada: waitress in black brings food to seated theatre patrons(Photo, Courtesy Cineplex)

Cinema Du Parc in Montreal, Que.

The last three independent movie theatres in Montreal are sister businesses—Cinemas du Parc, Beaubien, and du Musée. Located in the heart of downtown near McGill University, Cinéma du Parc plays the most diverse set of films, offering an average of 300 different movies every year. As a first-run theatre, it chooses movies based on what it thinks are the best films, not just the big blockbusters. It also caters to a bilingual audience of French and English speakers—offering films in their original languages, as well as subtitled versions (never dubs) whenever possible. To top it all off, recently renovated seats makes it a uniquely comfortable indie theatre.

best movie theatres canada: cinema du parc sign above underground theatre(Photo, Courtesy Cinéma du Parc)

The Park Theatre in Clear Lake, Manitoba

This quirky theatre is the largest log cabin theatre in North America. It’s a designated heritage building that opened in the spring of 1937, located in the beautiful Riding Mountain National Park. It is family run and boasts a 12K Digital Barco Projector with 7.1 surround sound (although they still have a 35 mm projector for show). Note that the theatre closes for the winter, and is only open May through September.

best movie theatres canada: exterior shot of log cabin Park Theatre showing film called (Photo, Pauline Boldt)

Cineplex Cinemas Yonge-Dundas in Toronto, Ont.

Seeing a movie in 4DX might not be the most pleasant experience you’ll ever have, but Cineplex at Yonge-Dundas is one of five Canadian theatres hosting the experience. Motion seats and other atmospherics such as “water, wind, lighting, scent and more” deliver special effects in the most literal way possible. Characters in the movie smell a scent? So do you. Characters caught in the rain? Hope you packed an umbrella (just kidding, though you have to keep your belongings secure so they don’t interfere with the special effects).

best movie theatres canada: patrons wearing movie glasses scream excitedly from moving seats(Photo, Courtesy 4DX)

Royal Theatre in Trail, B.C.

The indie Royal Theatre works hard at maintaining its tradition of engagement with the community. For example, it hosts a “baby-friendly” showing of PG+ movies on Tuesdays at noon, raising the house lights, turning down the sound, and offering stroller parking so parents can enjoy an adult movie without the glare of disapproving strangers for bringing your baby to the theatre (Big chains Landmark and Cineplex offer similar baby-friendly showings at select theatres). With or without a baby, the Royal’s EZ Tuesday prices for all showings are a real score at only $10 for your ticket, real buttered popcorn, and a drink.

best movie theatres canada: royal theatre popcorn machine pops corn(Photo,

Scotiabank Theatre in Toronto, Ont.

Scotiabank Theatre was the first theatre in the world to install Imax with Laser in 2014 (movies are sharper, brighter, and have the widest range of colours available). It also offers DBOX (where the seats move with the action on screen) and RealD 3D films. For those who don’t need all the frills but want a pre-show beer, well, they have a bar, too. The only caveat? You have to get past a long set of infamous stairs/escalators to enter the theatres—be sure to take the elevator if you need to. 

best movie theatres canada: old exterior shot of Scotiabank Theatre with IMAX section(Photo, Courtesy Cineplex)

Landmark West Kelowna, Xtreme in West Kelowna, B.C.

For an immersive movie viewing experience, you can head to Landmark’s West Kelowna location for the only Xtreme auditorium in Canada. The Landmark Xtreme theatre offers the high-tech Barco Auro 11.1 channel immersive sound system—the first of its kind in the country—which sends soundwaves from every direction. In other words, you’ll experience the sound just as you would in real life. It also has wrap-around screens with excellent 3D capability, so that no matter where you sit, you have the best viewing and listening experience. And, Landmark theatres offer patrons the ability to reserve seats in advance—so you don’t have to rush.

best movie theatres canada: Xtreme theatre with reclining chairs and slightly curved screen(Photo, Courtesy Landmark Cinemas)

Rio Theatre in Vancouver, B.C.

The eclectic East Van favourite theatre the Rio escaped a near end in early 2018 when its operators had to crowdfund money to buy the theatre’s building or risk handing it over to developers. It has everything from first-run feature films to live entertainment to real buttered popcorn, plus The Georgia Straight named it the best neighbourhood movie theatre. With local and celebrity support (including Ryan Reynolds and Kevin Smith), the Rio was saved. It’s also only steps away from the SkyTrain, so you can reach the beloved theatre without worrying about downtown Vancouver parking.

best movie theatres canada: patrons line up outside the Rio Theatre with bright marquee sign(Photo, Courtesy Rio Theatre)


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