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Published Time: 28.06.2024 - 19:15:27 Modified Time: 28.06.2024 - 19:15:27

"He showed up during a sold-out screening of 'The Matrix' and he said 'Folks, you're all out of here as of July 1,'" Oyston said. Revue Cinema

Oyston said that the group, which operates the historical independent Revue Cinema on Roncesvalles Avenue, was suddenly informed Wednesday that its lease wouldn’t be renewed when an agent of the landlord showed up there.

"He showed up during a sold-out screening of 'The Matrix' and he said 'Folks, you're all out of here as of July 1,'" Oyston said.

"He expressed he doesn't want to renew our lease, and he wants us out of the building, and he's planning to take it private."

However the landlord is looking to keep some of the staff who run the theatre as he seeks to take over its operation.

"So it's essentially a hostile takeover attempt, where he wants us to transition all of our staff, all the resources and the goodwill we've built up over 17 years," Oyston said. "We have no confidence he's able to do this as a 96-year-old with no experience."

The theatre space has been owned by Danny and Leticia Mullin, who bought it 17 years ago after the theatre chain which previously owned it went bankrupt.

Speaking with CTV News Toronto, Danny Mullen said the lease stipulates that the tenant will be responsible for all upkeep, maintenance and repair and that it should be completed in a timely manner.

However, he said that hasn't happened.

"Every time we sign the lease, they say 'we're going to do all this work.' They never do nothing," Mullin said. "And then when I say 'what happened?' — 'Well, that was the old directors, now we have new directors.'”

He said he's not sure why the society should stay on as the operators of the theatre if they don't do the repairs.

"We want to get rid of the board, bring it back to private sector. It's very simple," Mullin said. "Why do we need the board? They've never done nothing. Every time we sign a new lease, they never fulfill the lease. They're supposed to do work, do the seats; they never do nothing."

The Revue Film Society has operated the theatre as a non-profit organization since Mullin and his wife bought it. Much of the equipment in the theatre belongs to the group.

"So we've made significant investments in things like a digital projector, which is a sizable and expensive piece of equipment, the sound system, a lot of the point of sale systems," Oyston said.

That equipment would be moved out if the group is booted.

Oyston said the society agreed last year to a nearly 50 per cent rent increase to renew their lease, which expires at the end of June. That would bring their monthly rent to $15,000 a month, but the landlord hasn't taken the cheques and Oyston said there has been "radio silence" since they agreed to the increase.  

Leticia Mullin pointed out that she and Danny have only raised the rent by $3,200 over the past 17 years.

Oyston said that his group has been pushing for an early lease renewal since September since they wanted to move ahead with renovations to the façade of the building, which has heritage designation.

While local representatives have been supportive, Oyston said the dispute is "ultimately a private matter between the landlord and a tenant."

If there is no resolution to the matter, the society will stop operating the cinema after June 30.

With files from CP24 Reporter Jamie Gutreund and CTV Toronto Reporter Janice Golding

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