Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Will you be playing [film title] in the near future?

We publish two months' worth of movies at a time, which may give the impression that we can see a long way into the future. But, astonishing as it may seem, we're not sure of anything beyond the current listings in the ByTowne Guide. Many people ask us about the likelihood of a particular film coming to the ByTowne (or coming back), but the simple truth is that the movie industry is a multi-billion dollar source of uncertainty.

Giving inaccurate information to curious movie fans is much worse than saying "Heck, we don't know", so our answer to all these questions is the same: Heck, we don't know.


When we DO know, we publish our listings in the ByTowne Guide, and on this web site, which gives most movie goers from 10 days to 10 weeks to do their planning. Our best advice is to make sure you pick up every issue of the ByTowne Guide. With a ByTowne Guide in hand, you know pretty much everything that we know.


See also: "Why don't you answer my e-mail?"

Q: How do I advertise in the ByTowne Guide?

The ByTowne Guide is a great place for local businesses, arts groups and entertainment events to advertise. Check out the sizes, prices and deadlines in our downloadable Rate Card, then e-mail Bruce White at to book your space.

Q: I am a Senior. Why do I have to buy a Membership?

No-one has to buy a ByTowne Membership. But if you come to the movies often, it's a good idea. Here's our pitch.

Vanessa Redgrave has her MembershipWe don't offer a lower price for Seniors. But we do offer Seniors a half-price deal on purchasing an annual Membership, which lowers their admission price by $4 on most films. For $6 per year, any Senior (65 and over) can take advantage of the Member’s admission price of $8.

We believe that our lowest ticket price should be offered not on the basis of age, which is kind of arbitrary, but as a reward for 'frequent flying'. Someone who rarely goes to the movies or who visits from out of town hasn’t really done much to earn a loyalty discount. We sell Memberships because they make sense -- and savings -- for people who come regularly, no matter their age.

So, Seniors, please join the club! Next time you come to the ByTowne, ask the cashier for a Senior Membership ($6) and an admission ticket ($8). After the initial $14 investment, you’ll get the Member’s price at all our regularly priced movies for a full 12 months. Mailing of the ByTowne Guide is free for Members, too.

Q: Where is the ByTowne and how do I get there?

The basics: The ByTowne Cinema is located on Rideau Street, between King Edward Avenue and Nelson Street.

The detailed: More information (including directions and parking info) can be found on this page.

Q: How much does it cost to come to the movies?

Our regular show ticket prices (effective since August 1st, 2014) are:

  • $12.00 for Non-Members
  • $8.00 for ByTowne Members (with card)
  • $6.00 for Children under 12

Unless otherwise noted in our program guide, separate admission is required for each film. Prices above apply at all shows, 7 days a week, except for some special events and charity fundraisers. And please bear in mind that we are a cash only establishment. Sorry, no debit or credit cards!

A valid, signed Membership card must be presented to obtain the Member's price. Please don't ask our cashier to break the rules.

Q: What is a membership and what does it get me?

The Basics
ByTowne memberships cost $12.00 and are valid for 12 months from the time of purchase. The membership card entitles you to the discounted admission price of $8.00 per film and a mailing list subscription to receive the bi-monthly ByTowne Guide.

Seniors and Full-time Students
We offer Membership at half price to Seniors (65+) and full-time Students. Present your proof of age or valid ID from a secondary or post-secondary institution and pay just $6.00 for 12 months of savings. 

How to Buy
Sample ByTowne membership cardYou may purchase a membership at the box office when you join us for a movie. The total cost is then $20.00: $12.00 for the membership plus $8.00 for your admission at member's rate. (For full-time Students and Seniors, the total is just $14 because Membership is half price.) The membership card should be signed in the space provided and must be presented at the box office every time to get your discount. If you wish to receive the ByTowne Guide by mail, simply fill out the mailing list form available from the cashier at the time of membership purchase.

Please note that ByTowne membership cards are not transferable; it is for your personal use only. And sorry, we do not replace lost or stolen cards.

Buying by Mail
You may also purchase a membership through the mail at the slightly higher cost of $13.00 ($7.00 for Seniors).

Send a cheque to:
ByTowne Cinema, 
325 Rideau Street, 
Ottawa ON       K1N 5Y4

Please include a clearly visible return address to cover the postage cost of mailing your new membership card back to you (that's where the extra $1 comes in).

Q: Do you take credit cards? Or debit?

Sorry, no credit or debit cards here; we take cash only, because it's faster.

Cash Only bannerThe ByTowne is one of the few places we can think of where we have to take payment from as many as 650 people in half an hour or less. Although electronic payment processing has improved a lot since the early days, cash is still faster. It’s only a few seconds faster per transaction, but when we’re busy, those seconds add up.

In the interests of keeping our box office queue moving, our cashiers will continue to accept only cash. For customers who are caught unawares, there’s an ATM machine in the lobby.

Q: When and where can I buy tickets?

Zee ByTowne Guy finds his ticketTickets can only be purchased in person from our box office. The box office opens 30 minutes prior to the first screening of the day. Once it's open, you may buy tickets for any upcoming show. If it appears in our printed Guide, or showing in our on-line calendar, tickets are available (with only a few exceptions). 

If it's not easy for you to get to our box office during our hours of operation, don't worr. The ByTowne is quite large (650 seats) and we rarely sell out, so if you arrive about 15 minutes before show time, it's pretty easy to get your ticket, your popcorn and a good seat.

The ByTowne is a cash-only business; we don't accept debit or credit cards at the box office or at the concession stand.

Q: What are ‘vouchers’? And how are they different from advance tickets?

Originally designed to be gift certificates, our pre-paid vouchers are very popular with regular moviegoers who want to skip the box office queue. Members can use our $8 Vouchers and Non-Members can use our $12 Vouchers. They can be bought well in advance, and they never expire.

Buy as many Vouchers as you like from the cashier on your next visit. (Remember to bring lots of cash, because we still don't take plastic!). After that, you can skip the box office line-up and go straight to the usher, or to the Ticket Holders line-up if we haven't yet finished with the previous movie. When you get to the usher, hand over a Pre-Paid Voucher (and show your Membership if you're using an $8 Voucher) – and you're in! Convenient AND speedier!

The Vouchers, unlike an advance ticket, can be used at any show. But they don't absolutely guarantee admission: in the unlikely scenario that you're the 651st person to show up to one of our screenings, you'll just have to come back and use your Voucher another day. If you purchase an advance ticket for a specific show, we will keep a seat empty for you no matter when you show up.


And yes, Vouchers are a great gift idea, too. The $12 Non-Member vouchers are ideal for people you'd like to introduce to the ByTowne; $8 Member vouchers are best for people you know who are already card-carrying Members.

Q: How can I get the ByTowne Guide mailed to me?

When you buy a ByTowne Membership, either as a new Member or as a renewing Member, the cashier will give you a small white form to fill out.

On that form, you can:

• give us your mailing address to receive the ByTowne Guide (it's free for Members)

• give us your e-mail address to receive Cinemail, our weekly reminder e-mail (it's free for anyone)

• sign up for both of the above

It's completely optional, of course, but if you're concerned about security, you needn't be. We will never give your address or e-mail address to any other businesses or services.

Because the weekly e-mail costs nothing for us to send, we'll keep you on our list until you tell us to stop. But sending the printed Guide is more expensive, so your subscription will lapse a couple of issues after your Membership expires, and you should remember to fill out a new registration form every time you renew your Membership.


Q: My wallet was stolen. How do I get a replacement Membership Card?

Sorry, we can't replace lost or stolen Membership Cards. They don't have any sophisticated bar codes or other way of cancelling their validity. When one falls into the wrong hands, it's still valid, and could be in use until its expiry.

There's even the possibility that a dishonest person (not you!) could invent a story, get a replacement card, and use the second Membership for a spouse or friend. We know this isn't what you'd like to hear, but when it's gone, it's gone.

The good news is that, on average, a lost card is likely to be several months old. You may already have enjoyed more in savings than you spent on the lost card, and buying a new one gets you a full 12 months of savings all over again.

Q: Can I print my own copy of the calendar?

Yes, absolutely! We recommend one for the office and one for your fridge door.

The two-month calendar on the back page of the printed Guide is a bit awkward to print as one 11 x 17 document, but we've got a great workaround: each month is available in an easy-to-read format that prints very nicely on a standard 8 x 11 page, in colour or b&w. You can find them at this link.

Q: Why don't you answer my e-mail?

Zee ByTowne Guy, a bit upsetWe make an effort to reply to (almost) all e-mails. If you write us and haven’t received a reply in a week, something has gone wrong (the internet still isn't perfect) and you should re-send, or simply call us at the office: (613) 789-4600.
There is one category of e-mail that we don’t reply to, though; those which ask something like “Will you be playing ______ in the near future?” We really like hearing from you about which new films you’re interested in (and we especially love it when you include links to the movie’s site, or to a review you spotted), but we really don’t know when they are coming. To keep our work load to a reasonable level, we respectfully ask that you suggest films to us without asking when they will show up. When we know the answer, we’ll list the movies in the ByTowne Guide and on our web site.

Q: How long has the ByTowne been around?

The ByTowne's a spin-off of the old Towne Cinema that lived on Beechwood Avenue in New Edinburgh. We've been at our 325 Rideau St. location since 1988. The cinema itself was built in 1947 and was called the Nelson Theatre.

Q: Can we have more light before the show?

Could we have a bit more light in the cinema before the show, so that we can read the ByTowne Guide?


Back before our 2013 renovations, the low light level in the auditorium was, admittedly, a bit convenient. The tired look of the interior paint job and the imperfect upholstery looked better in the semi-darkness.
We got used to that ambiance over the years, and although the paint job and new seats now look fantastic, the calming atmosphere of the underlit auditorium seems familiar, cozy and ByTowne-ish.
As a compromise, some extra lights were added on the main level’s back wall, so pre-screening reading is quite pleasant in the back four or five rows. But the rest of the auditorium is lit for conversation, and well, we just like it that way.

Q: Why are the balcony seats different?

The balcony seats are smaller and less comfortable than the lovely red ones on the main level. Why?


Sorry, but the balcony seats are definitely more upright and 'spartan' than those on the main level. The problem is that the dimensions of the balcony steps can’t accommodate a more modern, luxurious cinema seat. The stepped floor up there gives us a limited amount of platform to mount the seats on. Those steps were set in concrete in 1947, when customers were smaller and legroom wasn’t very generous, so the bigger new seats just won’t fit.

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