Going to the movies by myself was part of my coming of age story.

I remember seeing beloved movies in downtown Kitchener theatres. My parents worked downtown, and my younger brother loved to go to the cinema

Perhaps seeing Beethoven or Toy Story weren’t seminal film experiences in my life; but the thrill of walking right off the street, just past the fancy Eatons store, and into a different world scented with popcorn, was wonderful.

The downtown theatres closed. Suburban, big-box multiplexes became popular.

Turns out I’m not the only one who misses downtown movie theatres.

Matt MacKinnon also grew up going to movies in downtown Kitchener. His love of films led him through two film-studies degrees and a job at the Toronto International Film Festival.

After spending years in TO, and with a growing family to think about, MacKinnon wanted to move back home. He was tired of the commute. He told friends who ran the independent Fox Theatre in Toronto that there was no cinema in downtown Kitchener.

When the Chrysalids Theatre at 141 Ontario St. N closed, MacKinnon wondered if it was time to bring the purpose-built cinema back to its former glory. It used to be the Odeon Hyland.

“I remember going to the Hyland cinema as a child,” MacKinnon said. “There’s a different experience watching movies in the core [of a city] then driving to the outskirts of town to a huge multiplex.”

MacKinnon’s friends, the Fox Theatre’s Daniel Demois and Andy Willick, agreed that downtown Kitchener could use a cinema. And Demois and Willick, both charmed by Kitchener from their first visit, were game to come on board as partners.

Today, the three are about to open Apollo Cinema. The 308-seat theatre has been completely refurbished: new seats, a huge screen, sound-dampening panels and state-of-the-art sound and projection systems.

The lobby, still a licensed bar, has also been renovated. Vintage movie posters are waiting to be hung on the dark plum walls. The popcorn machine has been tested.

The star of the show, though, is the high-tech projector and sound equipment.

The Christie CP2220 DLP cinema projector and the Christie Vive Audio solution can run regular-format and 3D movies.

I chatted with Dave Paolini, manager of media and public relations at Christie. He said the projector is the best performer in its class, with the lowest operating costs.

“Christie is recognized as making the best projectors in the industry,” MacKinnon said. “Everyone uses them for a reason. The fact that they are made here and are just up the street from us is so great.

“Our relationship with Christie just sort of happened. They want to be involved in the community.”

MacKinnon is also jazzed about the new sound system from Christie. Vive is new technology that’s only been out about a year.

The subwoofers alone stand 10-feet tall, hidden by the 43-foot-wide screen.

“We’re one of a very few theatres in Canada that are using Vive.” Demois said.

Expect to watch everything from new films, cult classics, sing-alongs and children films at the Apollo. MacKinnon wants community interest to set what goes on the marquee..

“Going to see a movie is social,” MacKinnon said. “We want you to walk here, come out with friends, grab a drink and enjoy.”

Because the theatre is licensed, MacKinnon wants to see it used as a multi-use space for business retreats, viewing parties or video-game events.

“Gaming on a screen this size is unreal,” Demois said.

The Apollo Cinema is scheduled to open Friday, Jan. 30. The team is keeping the first film under wraps for now. The lounge will be stocked with locally supplied beers, artisan chocolate, and coffee -- as well Glosette raisins, popcorn and other film-watching favourites.

The guys at Apollo will be screening select movies for free over the weekend of Feb. 6-8 as an invitation to Waterloo Region to check the place out. More details will soon be made available on their website and Facebook page.

“The community has already been super supportive,” Demois said. “They’ve really rallied around us on social media and in-person. We can’t wait to open.”


Yes, there’s a big game on this weekend, but there’s also a lot more happening in town. I see and hear that… Ladies Learning Code is holding a HTML and CSS for beginners workshop this Saturday, Jan. 31 in the D2L office at the Tannery, 151 Charles St. W. Join the team from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. to learn some coding basics. Registration is required for the $50 workshop, open to both men and women… On Tuesday, Feb. 3, the Arthritis Society is holding its first Joint Challenge for Arthritis at Bingemans Funworx, 425 Bingemans Centre Dr., Kitchener. Individuals and four-person teams are invited to register and compete in bowling, laser maze, Nerf cannon and trivia bonanza games. Vidyard, Plum, Communitech and the Accelerator Centre all will have teams competing for glory…. Stone Soup WR is a benefit concert in support of Doctors Without Borders. A brainchild of Communitech executive-in-residence Alan Quarry, the event Saturday, Feb. 7 at THEMUSEUM, 10 King St. W., Kitchener. Tickets cost $45. The event features door prizes, a silent auction, live music, an art show and great local food and drink.