Cinema 2000 on Seedy Yonge Street

March 02, 1970

Yonge St. and Edward St.

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On March 2, 1970, police from the morality squad waited patiently in the lobby of Cinema 2000 for the showing of the film Vixen to finish. They then seized four videotape copies of the film. By the mid-1970s Yonge Street, especially between Gerrard and Dundas, had become Toronto’s version of New York’s 42nd Street, a strip of adult-oriented businesses. Cinema 2000 was at the heart of the action.

Cinema 2000 in its heyday (public domain).

When it opened in October 1969, Cinema 2000 found a way to slip through a loophole in the current censorship laws by showing films on videotape, which was not subject to censorship by the Ontario Board of Censors. Nevertheless, obscenity charges were filed against the theatre for showing the films commercially. Despite three separate legal proceedings and $40,000 in legal fees, the Court ruled in favour of Cinema 2000, making it the first cinema to win a sex censorship case in Canada.

The murder of shoeshine boy Emanuel Jaques in a Yonge Street massage parlour in 1977, combined with a city report recommending ways of dealing with the increasing number of sketchy businesses, led to tighter regulations. Cinema 2000 closed October 10, 1982, with the double bill Hot Cats and On a Waterbed. Even the “Yonge Street is Fun Street” sign above the Funland video arcade eventually vanished.

By James Marsh

Visit The Canadian Encyclopedia for more on Toronto.

The Yonge Street strip in the 1960s-70s with Cinema 2000 just to the right (in the photo) of Le Coq d'Or (public domain). View the image gallery