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Nathan A. Taylor

Creator of the multiplex theater

Nathan A. “Nat” Taylor, the creator of the multiplex theater, founder of the Motion Picture Theater Assn. of Canada and co-founder of Canadian Film Weekly, died March 1 of natural causes at his home in Toronto. He was 97.

Along with then-partner Garth Drabinsky, Taylor also formed exhib giant Cineplex-Odeon.

Toronto native, the son of a tailor, began running his first theater as a teen while in law school. A decade later he founded 20th Century (Twinex) Theaters, of which there were 17 by 1941. He also built in Toronto the Downtown, the Towne Cinema, the International Cinema, the Glendale and many drive-ins, as well as the area’s first professional movie production facility, in Kleinburg, Ontario.

Taylor produced several films: “The Mask” (1961), the first Canadian film to be distributed in the United States by a major studio; “Explosion” (1969); and “The Reincarnate” (1971).

As movie attendance began to erode with the advent of television in the 1950s, Taylor opened the world’s first dual cinema, in Ottawa in 1957. He later took the idea to Burnaby, British Columbia; Mississauga, Ontario; and Toronto, where he subdivided the Uptown Theater into five screens.

In partnership with Drabinsky in 1979, Taylor built the world’s first multiplex with 18 screens in Toronto’s Eaton Center.

Later he and Drabinsky bought Odeon to form Cineplex-Odeon, which Drabinsky left amid scandal in the late 1980s.

Taylor is survived by his wife Claire, six stepchildren, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.