Toronto: Film Critics Pan Broken Escalator at P&I Screening Venue

Scotiabank Theatre Toronto - Cineplex Entertainment - Publicity -H 2016
Courtesy of Cineplex Entertainment

"This is going to soon turn into a very bitchy, whiny little press corps," Chicago film critic Erik Childress warned on Twitter.

Offscreen, there's a survival thriller at the Toronto Film Festival fast dissolving to complaints from movie critics still taking the stairs to see movies at the Press & Industry screening venue, while technicians scramble to fix a broken escalator.

Festival organizers on Friday had no comment beyond a statement issued a day earlier that indicated a repair crew from Thyssen Elevators was on site at the Scotiabank Theater on Richmond Street to bring the moving staircase "back up as soon as possible. This may cause some delays, so please allow more time to get to your P&I screenings."

A Scotiabank Theater manager confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that the escalator, which rises 75 steps from the ground floor lobby to the top floor auditoriums, has been faulty for over two months, well before the festival got underway on Thursday.

"As per #TIFF custom, the massive escalator at the Scotiabank Theater is out of service. Imagine all reviews typed between gulps for air," Slate movie critic Sam Adams said on his Twitter account. A passenger elevator is available for P&I passholders at the theater.

At the same time, a second escalator continues to carry passengers from the second floor down to the Scotiabank lobby, but can't be reversed to move people upwards, another manager revealed. "Key to broken escalator at #tiff16 - just go to movies all day and treat it like Everest base camp, but with popcorn," Toronto film critic Jason Gorber of said on Twitter. 

A faulty escalator is only one challenge at the Scotiabank Theater, as there's no WiFi, only a modified Internet access to allow mobile game-playing in any of the 14 auditoriums. And the theater is also at work to fix faulty air conditioning, which has some critics complaining of hothouse conditions during some P&I screenings, even as the central lobby remains cool.

"Between escalator malfunctions and air conditioning issues, this is going to soon turn into a very bitchy, whiny little press corps," Erik Childress of and the Chicago Film Critics Association said on his Twitter account. Other critics were more sanguine about their multiplex hike in Toronto.

"Scotiabank escalator, closed for repairs at #TIFF 16 bow, recalls SCULLY: Machines fail when you need them the most," Toronto Star movie critic Peter Howell remarked.

The Toronto Film Festival continues through Sept. 18.