About Playhouse Cinema


The Playhouse Cinema is the latest project from Princess Cinemas, one of Canada's longest-running independent art house cinemas. The Princess had humble beginnings: in 1985, freshly graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University's Business program and with a love of film, John Tutt knew the corporate world was not for him. With a bank loan of $5000, he and Chris Polci, a Laurier Film Studies grad, embarked on bringing a repertory cinema to Kitchener-Waterloo. The rest, as they say, is history. They bought two 16mm film projectors and on Sept 18, 1985, they opened the (Original) Princess Cinema on Princess St. with a screening of the Hollywood classic, Casablanca. After a year, Chris decided to return to school, and John carried on, working tirelessly to bring great movies to Waterloo Region cinephiles. To this day, John Tutt's commitment to programming the best films from around the world is admired across the country. Without any public funding, grants or tax dollars, the Princess has benefited solely from the region's movie lovers, who support the Princess's quality programming one movie ticket at a time.


In 2005, John and Wendy Tutt opened the Princess Twin cinemas in Waterloo. The Twin, located on King St. (literally around the corner from the "Original") enabled the Princess to expand its movie offerings. While the Original maintained its calendar format of curated films, the Princess Twin could offer premiere art house films with open-ended runs. Successful films from the Original could be moved over to the Twin and second-run films also could be programmed at the Twin on a week to week basis. The following year, they opened the Princess Cafe, offering light meals and the popular "Dinner and a Movie" deal for hungry movie-goers.

The Next Generation

In 2018, John, Wendy and their son, Jacob (freshly graduated from Laurier's Business program and with a love of film!) purchased the Playhouse Cinema on Sherman Avenue. For years, their friend, Hamilton filmmaker Terrance Odette, had encouraged them to bring their cinema model to Hamilton, but the timing and opportunities had not been right. All of that changed when CityKidz put the Playhouse up for sale in the fall of 2017. Awed by the beauty of this 105 year-old theatre, the Tutt family recognized this unique opportunity to not only restore a rare, historic cinema, but also to participate in the revitalization of the creative Barton neighbourhood. Having opened March 1, 2019, the Playhouse aims to be a cultural hub, a true independent art house cinema, offering great films and programming for Hamilton's downtown and beyond.


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Photo by Hamilton Havens

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