Cinema V - Salle Hermes

5560 Rue Sherbrooke Ouste,
Montreal, QC H4A 1W3

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IIgs on March 9, 2020 at 10:36 pm

This will likely be the last major update. As of March 2020, the city announced it will demolish the Empress theater. An architectural audit states the building is structurally unsound and deteriorated past the point of saving. There is a chance the neo-Egyptian facade could be preserved, but it depends on cost and structural feasibility. Regardless, the building as a whole will be facing a wrecking ball in near future, maybe even the facade with it. Condos will be replacing it.

I saw this coming 10 years ago, just scroll to my 2010 posting and see. Yes, I called it way back then, demolition by neglect. It’s an age-old story repeated in Montreal over and over and over again. Incredibly infuriating and sad, but no surprise.

I’ll post a future update as to whether the facade was saved or not. Hardly a victory even if it is, the real treasure was the building itself, not its exterior face.

rivest266 on August 24, 2019 at 2:49 pm

It and the Cinéma de Paris downtown joined Famous Players on June 17th, 1988.

IIgs on August 12, 2018 at 5:33 pm

Well, the latest news (as of August 2018) is MK2 has cut ties and canceled its agreement with the Empress Theater Foundation. This has essentially scuttled the project, it is now dead in the water. Again.

In the meantime the building has reached a critical point in terms of deterioration, the longer it sits abandoned to the elements, the more difficult and expensive it will become to renovate (at some point it just becomes a lost cause). My fear is its in danger of facing demolition.

rivest266 on October 21, 2017 at 10:22 am

I flew my DJI Phantom at the nearby park and photographed the Empress. Aerial in the photo section.

IIgs on October 11, 2017 at 8:29 pm

MK2 is a potentially interesting development, but it’s hard to be optimistic with so many failed attempts by so many others in the past 25 years. As I’ve said in the past, talk is one thing…action is quite another.

I won’t even raise an eyebrow until/unless I see construction start. We’ll have to wait and see.

rivest266 on October 11, 2017 at 2:48 pm

Looks it found some money. France’s MK2 (which have 9 cinemas in Paris) will operate it.

The Empress Theatre Foundation announced on Tuesday that the French film company MK2 has signed a letter of intent with them to run the cinemas in the project designed to revitalize the building at the corner of Old Orchard Ave. and Sherbrooke St. W. that used to house the Cinema V repertory cinema. etc…

Here is a link about MK2

IIgs on September 1, 2017 at 1:04 pm

Update for 2017: Just as I predicted. Several deadline extensions were granted over the years (three in fact!), and each one of them missed. The city’s absolute final deadline was June 30, 2016, and when it was missed, it essentially nullified the whole project.

Cinema NDG did come back in September 2016 with a scaled back revision (knocking $2.5 million off the estimate total), but the city has shown no interest.

It’s now September 2017 and the theater restoration project is dead in the water. The only change is the building’s exterior is now covered in graffiti.

So as it stands, The Empress has now sat abandoned for 25 years. Yep, a quarter century of all talk and no action. I suspect it will be demolished, or at best, only the facade preserved for a condo project.

rivest266 on November 27, 2016 at 2:01 pm

6 septembre 1968 annonce en grand format en français se trouve dans la rubrique photo de ce cinéma.

rivest266 on May 27, 2016 at 4:51 pm

June 1st, 1974 grand opening ad as Home of Blue Movies as well as the La Press ad as “La Maison des Films Erotiques” can be found in the photo section for this theatre.

IIgs on June 17, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Well here I am again, a year later, to the day. The December 2013 deadline for financing was missed and now been pushed back to October 2014. My best guess is it will be extended repeatedly throughout the next year or two until Cinema NDG finally forfeits their plans entirely.

Still no activity at the site as of June 2014. It remains boarded up, abandoned and deteriorating. Talk is one thing, action is another.

ohserase on June 17, 2014 at 11:53 am

I’ll believe it when it actually happens:

IIgs on June 17, 2013 at 7:55 am

Now 2 and half years later…

In December 2011 the building was seized by the city of Montreal, with the ground floor office space emptied and vacated. The building now sits completely abandoned, again. The only activity these days is graffiti artists routinely vandalizing it with spray paint.

An organization called Cinema NDG has proposed a $12 million dollar project that would re-open a 4 screen movie theatre in the building but we won’t know if this will go through until December 2013. Until something actually happens, it’s just more empty promises and talk…

IIgs on February 24, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Unfortunately this is yet another example of more talk and ideas, but no action. Perhaps “day dreaming” is a better word for these latest plans, the only mention of it is in Metro (a free tabloid-like French paper) but nothing in the Montreal Gazette or local TV news stations such as CTV News. When the mainstream media outlets ignore the story, that is not a good sign.

Since I last commented, temporary metal fencing has been placed around most of the building. Either to protect it from vandalism or the danger that pieces of it may fall to the ground as it further decays. Something similar was don with theSeville theatre in its final few years.

rivest266 on February 22, 2011 at 2:35 pm

This may reopen as a art cinema
View link
(In French)

rivest266 on August 31, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Grand opening ad is at
View link

2010 article is at View link

IIgs on August 31, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Well, here I am, reporting back in on the progress of The Empress exactly 4 years later. And what progress has there been? sadly, none whatsoever. Excluding the small office on the ground floor, and a failed attempt at repairing the roof, the theater has sat abandoned, neglected and crumbling all these years. The roof has been leaking and undoubtedly caused further deterioration of the building.

There’s been much talk, promises and announcements made in terms of finally reopening the theater, but nothing concrete has happened. The latest news is the Quebec government is refusing to grant ANY funding (it is after all, serving the English community), casting serious doubt about the future of this project. There are currently reports the board of directors are planning on giving up on the project entirely/killing it, and allow the city to re-claim ownership of the building in November.

My prediction is this theater will suffer the same fate as the soon-to-be demolished Seville theater in the coming years, or at best, be converted into private condo housing. It would be nice to be wrong but I’m not optimistic.

ngolets on February 8, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Back in the late ‘70s, when Cinema V was a going concern run by Ricky Friedman, it was a regular haunt of Montreal’s english-speaking, movie-loving community. One day I explored some of the building’s hidden corners with the writer Dane Lanken (husband of Anna McGarrigle) for an article we worked on together for the theatre’s program. We felt a bit like Howard Carter when he discovered and opened the tomb of King Tut; upstairs in the wings behind the curtains we turned on a dim light to see painted hieroglyphics on the walls (at least those sections that hadn’t been covered with acoustic panelling) and a large mask of Tut high on a frieze â€" regrettably smashed through years before to allow for an air exhaust pipe to pass through the wall. Fragments of the plaster mask lay shattered on the floor. I think I still have a copy of a vaudeville program from the 30s that we found tossed with others down a stairwell in the adjoining office and dressing room wing. It was fantastic.

Best of luck with the project.

Azzaelea on November 12, 2009 at 12:30 pm

The new website of the Empress Cultural Centre Project—>

A link to a video on th Empress Cultural Centre, former Cinema V—>

Azzaelea on October 15, 2009 at 8:33 pm

I read a newspaper article posted on Empress’s door that said they’d had to struggle to pay $400,000 (?) in backed taxes. They managed to save themselves at the 11th hour.

The Save the Empress Cultural Centre website is gone. Are they still waiting on funding or is this project dead?

SilentToronto on February 24, 2008 at 11:50 am

With the right community input and funding, it would be fantastic to see The Empress re-open someday as a live performance venue. I wrote a tribute for theatre over at 32elvismovies, including an ad for its opening night from the Montreal Gazette.

IIgs on August 29, 2006 at 5:50 pm

Addendum to above: This afternoon the doors to the main building were opened when I happened to be passing by (no renovations are being done or even planned, but some volunteers were there clearing out some debris). I had a peek into what was once the theatre lobby…

Much to my disappointment it has been entirely gutted, presumably from damage from the fire in ‘92. The walls, floors and stairs are just bare concrete with exposed pipes and wiring on the ceiling. There was a strong dank and musty smell, even several feet away on the street. Chances are they’ll need to treat the building for mold contamination if it ever does reopen. I chatted briely with the head organizer and she confirmed most of the theatre has been stripped and gutted to the bare brick, although there are still some original seats in the upper balacony area and vintage moldings and architecture still intact in places—not all is lost.

One interesting thing I saw in the lobby. Look at the photograph link above, taken in 1989—I saw part of the original markee sign sitting there, specifically the white disc with red print that says “Cinema V: Salle 1”. Might make a nice collectable to someone out there heh. Incidentally the bricked up windows you see in the photograph (just above the markee) have been since restored. The bricks are gone and glass windows have been put back. Unfortunately the girl I spoke with didn’t seem optimistic about an opening anytime soon.

IIgs on August 26, 2006 at 4:18 pm

The city of Montreal purchased the building in 1999. There are plans a foot to renovate and reopen the building as community center for stage plays, musical performances and other events.

Currently a non-profit organization called the “Empress Cultural Centre” is in charge of the project. They have three phases planned (currently phase one is complete: reopening the ground floor office as a headquarters for the project) but the other two are on hold while they try to secure the funding needed—$8.3 million dollars.

I spoke to the organizers last month, they estimate it’ll be at least two years before the building is reopen (and personally I think that’s being optimistic, without funding it’ll remain closed indefinitely). No plans to turn it back into a film theatre, it’d be live performances mostly. In the meantime there’s no much there, it still sits closed up and and empty, apart from the small ground floor office.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on April 12, 2005 at 11:05 am

This site should be merged, it seems, with Cinema V-Salle Hermes & Empress. They all have the same address and may be the same theatre building.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on April 11, 2005 at 9:42 am

On August 20, 1977 I raced here with a friend from a film at the 1st Montreal Film Festival in order to see a commercial showing in this theatre of Luchino Visconti’s “The Innocent.” The film had not yet been released in the United States and wouldn’t be until early 1979. I believe the theatre was called the Ciné-Club IV at the time. Here is a photo I took around 1989.
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