Venue for today's audience
Since Paradise closed its doors in 2006, much has changed for what it means to be a single-screen venue in a major North American city. With the advent of a much more dispersed media selection, streaming services releasing new films online, the rise of ‘quality television’ and more, theatres are no longer the place audiences must go to see what’s new in the review columns or their group chats.
And so, why do audiences continue to leave the comfort of their homes? What venues have found over the past decade is that people are still hungry for experience and real-life connection.
New audience expectations
In recent years, New York City has seen Metrograph, Nitehawk and The Quad open (or re-open) with enhanced offerings: beautiful spaces to converge and share food and drink after the film, in-seat dining options, curated series and events, and so much more.
All across the US, independent film exhibitors are seeing their communities grow. “At Art House Convergence, a national association committed to advancing excellence in film exhibition, participation in our annual conference has increased from 27 in 2008 to over 700 in 2019,” says an official press release from Art House Convergence sent on March 28, 2019. “A reflection of the number of art house cinemas opening, expanding, and embracing the vitality of theatrical exhibition.”
Meanwhile, in the UK, boutique chains like Picturehouse Cinemas include gorgeous dining and bar spaces in their cinemas, members’ club Soho House operates luxurious screens with comfortable seating, and independents like Genesis Cinema and The Castle Cinema emphasize an elevated experience with inviting and communal bar spaces.
Here in Toronto, independent cinemas Revue Cinema, The Royal, Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema and more have seen a “moviegoing renaissance” (‘Chill, Netflix’, The Globe and Mail, January 14, 2019) thanks to inventive and involved programming.
How Paradise fits
Paradise is perfectly poised to join this community of venues, and has been thoughtfully updated to offer an even broader range of entertainment and experiences to fit modern audience expectations.
Paradise Theatre is flexible to accommodate cinema and live performances, with a cinema and separate lecture screen that retract into the ceiling, five rows of seats that fold into the ground to create standing room, and state-of-the-art live sound and digital cinema systems which integrate fully.
Why restrict a venue to one type of art or format only? With just about everything being multimodal and multipurpose these days, we’re excited to bring that experience into a brick-and-mortar venue. With this adaptable space, experimentation and multi-arts events are encouraged, and audiences won’t have to feel like Paradise Theatre is strictly any one thing—a cinema, a live music venue, a lecture hall—other than a place to share memorable experiences.
Food and drink
Great hospitality and food and drink play a large part in making an experience memorable. Audiences will be able to enjoy an enticing selection of concessions and cocktails in the Paradise Theatre lobby, and order food and drink directly to their seats in the balcony.
And of course, guests can enjoy a good Italian meal at Osteria Rialto, or make a night of it with a cocktail and seafood tower at Bar Biltmore, all within Paradise. Each unit has its own dedicated team of industry professionals behind it, with executive chef Basilio Pesce leading the charge. Paradise is not a theatre with a restaurant and bar, any more than it is a bar with a restaurant and theatre. All three units stand beautifully alone, and shine even brighter together.
Paradise Theatre is programmed by an in-house team, led by director of programming Jessica Smith. Through thoughtful curation and extensive collaboration with external bookers, programmers and festivals, the venue will be an exciting addition to the city's cultural landscape.
Paradise Theatre will be programmed on a monthly basis, with weekly updates of the newer release films included in the schedule. All shows and events will appear on the Paradise website.
A long-awaited new venue in a city where spaces for film and performance are disappearing, Paradise Theatre holds great promise for the existing bubbling cultural community.