Koreatown’s notorious Metro Theatre porn palace has closed its doors and will soon be turned into a big-box retail outlet. But for now, the only outward sign of the demise of a cinema best known for its burned-out marquis, faded posters and overall dilapidated charm is a small, handwritten sign inside its window that reads “Sorry theatre is closed for good.”
The Metro came under new ownership in 2012, when it was bought by Jonathan Hlibka and Nadia Sandhu, partners in the Studio Film Group, which also operated the Projection Booth Cinemas on Gerrard Street East. The pair has since had a falling out, with Hlibka claiming ownership of the company and Sandhu pursuing a legal case against him. At the time of the purchase, the cinema was listed for $3.8 million.
Neither party responded to Xtra’s requests for comment.
The theatre’s closure does not appear to be related to the legal dispute. Neighbouring business owners say that the landlord is forcing out tenants and has plans to turn the entire building into a large-format retail outlet, like the Factory Direct store across the street. “I’ve been told I have to be out in one month,” says Shumon Ghale, owner of Kantipur Krafts, which is next door to the Metro. “I don’t have a new location yet.”
While the Metro had begun to attract a mainstream audience under the new management by screening independent and foreign films in the evenings, it continued to screen porn in the afternoons, serving a devoted clientele of men looking to get their rocks off in a semi-public place in the company of other men.
“I’ve been going to the Metro since the mid-’80s, when they were showing censored soft-core celluloid porn films. I got my first blowjob there,” says Xtra reader “Tully Sorensen” in a comment submitted to dailyxtra.com. “It was a great place to suck a limp 70 year old cock. I’ll miss it.”