Revue Cinema, a historic fixture in Toronto’s Roncesvalles neighborhood, has been serving the community since 1911. This iconic venue has transitioned through various phases of the film industry, from silent movies to the latest cinematic releases – and usually a little bit of ham. Despite its cultural and economic contributions, the cinema faces significant challenges, primarily due to the complexities of commercial leasing.

Community Impact and Economic Contributions

Revue Cinema plays a vital role in the local economy. Grant Oyston, Chair of the Revue Film Society, highlights its importance: “We sell out shows every single week. It has a huge economic drive factor for the entire community around here.” The cinema attracts crowds, benefiting all kinds of nearby businesses such as the myriad bars and restaurants on the Roncy strip.  The cinema even sources their cocktails from the Shameful Tiki, one of Toronto’s most fun nights out.  Oyston estimates the cinema under its current leadership helps cultivate about 200 jobs within the area through direct and indirect economy provided by their programming.

Financial Investments and Lease Issues

Over the years, the Revue Film Society has invested over $500,000 in building restorations and improvements. These efforts are crucial for maintaining the structure and ensuring a quality experience for patrons. However, these investments also illustrate the financial strain on the nonprofit organization. “There’s this huge investment on our part as a tenant into the building and improving it, all of which is a loss in terms of our ability if we were evicted from this space,” Oyston explains.

Lease negotiations have proven difficult. The lack of standardized leases and the unpredictability of rent increases have created significant challenges. The current lease negotiations have brought these challenges to a head and the cinema’s future hangs in the balance as it navigates these complex discussions. This scenario is common among small businesses, arts organizations and many light-industrial businesses like breweries, Trades shops, and printmakers – highlighting broader systemic issues.

Complicating the matter, the landlord Danny Mullin appears to be attempting a hijacking of the business.

“It’s essentially a hostile takeover attempt, where Mullin wants us to transition all of our staff, all the resources and the goodwill we’ve built up over 17 years,” Oyston told CP24. “We have no confidence he’s able to do this.”  When any business spends money on leasehold upgrades, the landlord receives the benefit of those upgrades.  In many cases, at the end of the lease, the landlord owns anything bolted to the ground – which is why many restaurants are advertised as turn-key leases.  The expensive equipment has already been built into the structure, a landlord can simply jack the rent up to remove a tenant who has no recourse but to leave equipment they bought behind.

Addressing Power Imbalances in Commercial Leasing

The power imbalance between landlords and tenants is a critical issue. Without standardized leases and rent caps, tenants face unpredictable and often substantial rent increases. Revue Cinema’s struggles shed light on the urgent need for commercial rent reform. Implementing fair leasing practices is essential to preserving cultural institutions and supporting the economic health of communities. For more information on how to support the Revue Film Society, visit  To support the Commercial Renter Bill of Rights, send the message to your MP & MPP/MLA that you support local by signing our petition.