Empress Theatre (Montreal)

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The Empress Theatre
Empress Theatre.jpg
Empress Theatre on Sherbrooke Street West in N.D.G.
Alternative names Cinema V
General information
Type Movie theatre
Architectural style Egyptian Revival architecture
Location Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Address 5560 Sherbrooke Street West
Coordinates 45°28′18″N 73°36′46″W / 45.4718°N 73.6129°W / 45.4718; -73.6129Coordinates: 45°28′18″N 73°36′46″W / 45.4718°N 73.6129°W / 45.4718; -73.6129
Current tenants None
Inaugurated 1927
Owner City of Montreal
Design and construction
Architect Joseph-Alcide Chaussé
Other designers Emmanuel Briffa

The Empress Theatre (also known as Cinema V), is an abandoned Egyptian-style theatre located on Sherbrooke Street West in N.D.G. district of Montreal, Canada. It has been closed since 1992.


Built in 1927 and designed by Joseph-Alcide Chaussé, with interiors by Emmanuel Briffa,[1] it is the only theatre in Canada designed in the Egyptian style (inspired by the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb).[2] Opened as the Empress Theatre, the building was a vaudeville theatre for burlesque and first-run films.[3] In 1962 it was a dinner theatre called the Royal Follies.[4] In 1968 it became a two-tiered art-movie cinema called Cinema V-Salle Hermes, . In 1974 it was briefly named The Home of the Blue Movies and in 1975 it became Cinema V, a repertory cinema. In 1988 it was acquired by Famous Players and showed first-run films. In 1992 a fire caused damage to the theater resulting in its permanent closure.

Cinema V in 1982.

Current state[edit]

The building is slowly deteriorating and fenced off due to falling debris. In 2005 community organizers re-opened a small one room office on the ground floor (left corner of building; location of a health food store) as a headquarters for coordinating the building's restoration. The office was seized by the city and vacated in December 2011.

Uncertain future[edit]

Geordie Productions [1], Black Theatre Workshop, McGill Music Conservatory and the City of Montreal were, at one time, planning to restore the building. The estimated cost was $11.8 million.[5][6] The theatre was to be used for performance and visual arts[3] and included a café/art gallery and a 246-person concert hall.[7] It was to be home to Geordie Productions and Black Theatre Workshop, and the McGill Conservatory planned to use the theatre for its music program.[3]

In August 2010 provincial government funding was pulled and it was announced ownership would be returned to the city of Montreal by November.[8] Shortly after residents of NDG formed Renaissance Empress, dedicated to preserving the theatre and transforming it into a cultural centre, and delayed the move. On August 15, 2011 the city of Montreal seized ownership.

In January 2012, the borough of N.D.G. announced any non-profit group with a plan for the building must present it by May 11, 2012. The city stated it will not provide any funding for the building's restoration or redevelopment. Should there be no viable options the city will decide the building's future.

On September 5, 2012, the city borough voted to accept Cinema NDG's proposal. Their plan is to open a movie theater with four screening rooms (showing art films and documentaries) and set aside 20% of the building for commercial use. Restoration of the building is estimated at $12 million. Cinema NDG was given until December 31, 2013 to line up full financial backing,[9] however, unable to meet said deadline, an extension was granted until September 30, 2014.[10]


  1. ^ "Cinema V". Montreal Images. Retrieved 21 December 2009. 
  2. ^ LEMIRE, ROBERT. "Chaussé, Joseph-Alcide". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica-Dominion. Retrieved 21 December 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c CA (2009-03-17). "Empress Cultural Centre waiting for funding so construction can begin — Cultural activities — Arts — The Chronicle". Themonitor.ca. Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
  4. ^ O'Hanley, Stephanie (March 3, 2005). "Cinema V gets new lease on life". Hour magazine (Montreal: Communications Voir inc.). Retrieved 21 December 2009. 
  5. ^ "CTV Montreal — Hopes for Empress spotlight to shine again — CTV News". Montreal.ctv.ca. 2009-11-22. Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
  6. ^ O'Hanley, Stephanie (February 14, 2008). "Cinema V building to become new cultural centre". Hour magazine (Montreal: Communications Voir inc.). Retrieved 20 December 2009. 
  7. ^ Heffez, Alanah (2008-09-09). "Photo du Jour – Empress Theatre " Spacing Montreal". Spacingmontreal.ca. Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
  8. ^ ANNE SUTHERLAND, The Gazette : (2010-08-17). "City of Montreal taking back the Empress". Global Toronto. Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  9. ^ http://www.montrealgazette.com/Empress+Theatre+will+house+movie+theatre+commercial+offices/7199253/story.html
  10. ^ http://lesactualites.ca/index.php/2014/01/23/cinema-ndg-gets-extension-until-september/

External links[edit]