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Photo: @BytowneCinema (Instagram)

The ByTowne Cinema will reopen under new management

By Greggory Clark on May 27, 2021

In a newsletter sent to ByTowne Cinema subscribers today, outgoing owner Bruce White made the exciting announcement that the famous Rideau Street cinema will still be a cinema when this pandemic ends.

“I’m happy—thrilled, actually—to announce that the ByTowne will reopen under new management when pandemic conditions permit,” said White. “The new owners plan to continue the tradition of the ByTowne and operate an indie cinema that will offer international films, documentaries, and Canadian movies. And in my opinion, they have all the necessary qualities to make it a success.”

Beyond that, White’s message does not provide specifics: “I’ll leave it to the new owners to tell you what they’ve got planned. Soon, they’ll be introducing themselves.”

According to the Province of Ontario’s reopening plan, indoor activities will be permitted only in the third stage of loosened restrictions, which is several weeks away at best—more realistically, several months, and even then, there will be caps on attendance. “Last summer and fall, we could only host patrons 50 at a time. It doesn’t pay the bills,” said White.

“The new owners can’t be asked to lose money right from their opening day, so your next trip to the ByTowne can’t happen for a while. Expect to spend your summer doing other, more outdoorsy things… When attendance limits are more reasonable, movies can light up the ByTowne screen again.”

Meanwhile, White is still taking care of the venue premises, making minor repairs and tidying up. He’s also still paying the property tax and utility bills, so if you’d like to help the ByTowne until new management takes over, you can rent the iconic marquee for a day or buy prints by local artists. In the meantime, Ottawans can rejoice in the fact that we will once again have a historic downtown destination to watch movies someday.

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