Day Fourty-Nine – Yay, The Carlton is Saved!

18 02 2010

It’s nice to start your day with some good news.

I’m usually the type that’s quite happy to see things changing and moving on. I don’t really feel any attachment to buildings. If you can tear something down and put something even better on top – I’ll hand you the shovel.

Still, there’s something to be said for a building like the Carlton. It’s stood the test of time, under different names and management, but it’s been a mainstay of Toronto.

Though it needed a renovation, the Carlton Cinemas was a great place to watch limited releases.

But, given the choice between a movie at the AMC an intersection up the street and the Carlton, I’ll take my stadium seating in the AMC. That’s why it’s good news that Rainbow Cinemas is taking the time to renovate the building and try to bring it up to par of todays theatres.

I’m not expecting stadium seating or 200 seat screenings, but digital projection and surround sound are a start.

What made the Carlton last as long as it did was its identity to see those hard to find films. Where else could you watch The Cove and Food Inc.? Even with it’s 24 screens, the AMC would rather play Transformers 2 on twelve of them than a limited release picture.

It may not be the best business model, but since it closed down, it opened a hole in the market.

This feels like good news overall for the movie industry. People care enough to get a limited release theatre up and running again. They’re willing to go out on a Friday night to watch a movie that no one else has heard of, rather than just waiting for the DVD.

It’s also good news for Toronto. Or, at least, movie-goers in the Toronto area. Once again, we won’t have to worry about being completely left out. When the nominees for Best Documentary were named, I tried to look them up in Toronto. They were nowhere to be found. In the back of my mind, I knew that the Carlton would have these, but being closed, that wouldn’t be so easy.

Still, all it will take to have the Carlton close again is poor ticket sales. Whether there aren’t too many good films in limited release or the AMC decides to start playing them, it makes it a dangerous venture.

Nonetheless, I wish it the best and I’m excited to go back this summer.


Day Thirteen – Why Isn’t MMA Legal Here Yet?

13 01 2010

The City of Toronto has another huge shortfall on its hands. Though some are proposing budget cuts, which are almost necessary at this point, others have looked for different streams of revenue. One of the many ideas is to bring in more tourist dollars. The Toronto Unlimited campaign was the Miller era’s best idea to bring people in. Needless to say, it hasn’t really brought in the tourism it has promised.

There has been one idea that has banged at the door trying to get in, but the city and the province have simply ignored it. It’s about time they give in and open the door to MMA in Toronto.

It's only a matter of time before the UFC hits Toronto, but will it be soon enough to take advantage of the hype?

The UFC has been trying to shed the image that, the UFC specifically, had earned a decade prior. MMA is now a fully regulated and relatively safe combat sport that most of the world has opened up to. For some crazy reason, you can take up boxing legally in Ontario, but you can’t mix that with some wrestling. Whether it’s an uneducated fight commission or some boxing die-hards who see MMA as “too brutal”, talks have been stalled.

Toronto has more MMA fans per capita than any other country in the world, according to Marc Ratner, the UFC’s vice-president of regulatory and government affairs. It’s ridiculous to think that with these hungry fans within the city of Toronto, they have to go to Quebec to satisfy their MMA appetite. Not to mention fans in New York State, which seems ever closer to opening it’s doors to most populated city in the continent. Premier Dalton McGuinty is even warming up to the idea, but there doesn’t seem to be any talk of it from city hall.

Dana White, President of the UFC, has lobbied for MMA to be legal in Ontario for a while and doesn’t seem to be letting the issue go. Hometown media, such as “Showdown” Joe Ferraro, host of MMA Connected, and Mauro Renalo, commentator for Strikeforce and host of The MMA Show, are right behind Dana in the fight for legalization. The fact that all three sports networks in Ontario fight for the rights to MMA coverage shows that there’s a market for it. A market that is more than willing to bring their money into the city of Toronto.

The money is there for the taking, it’s just a matter of getting over their prejudice over the sport. The days of the human cockfight are long gone. MMA is a sport that isn’t going to disappear, but the opportunity to bring tourists for all over Ontario and New York State just might.

Good thing this year is an election year in Toronto. I wouldn’t be surprised if at least one candidate jumps on the bandwagon. Maybe the same candidate who would have liked to see the Toronto Islands become a red-light district? (More on his platform in the future.)

I think it’s only a matter of time before we see GSP, Brock Lesnar and Randy Couture duking it out in the octagon in Toronto. Now it’s just a matter of what building to host it in.

Marc Ratner, the UFC’s vice-president of regulatory and government affair