Construction designed by architect Albert E. Westover of Philadelphia and built for the Keith-Albee Vaudeville Organization, the Imperial opened to the public on April 25, 1913. The frescoes above the lobby are the work of New York artist William Eckhart, while the decoration is entrusted to Tognarelli and Voight of Philadelphia. Emmanuel Briffa, meanwhile, painted the asbestos curtain. That same year, the Keith-Albee Vaudeville Organization had another, virtually identical, Imperial theater built in Saint-Jean, New Brunswick.
La Presse edition of April 25, 1913
1929: The Imperial initially had 2,000 seats, compared to today's 819, the difference being chair size and legroom.
1931: Entrance hall
1932: Room and projection screen
1934: Used as a vaudeville theater in the early days, the hall was equipped with a Wurlitzer organ and had a capacity of 2,000 seats. With vaudeville in decline, the theater was rented in 1934 to Léo-Ernest Ouimet (founder of Ouimetoscope in 1906), who included cinema screenings from the variety program (Gratien Gélinas, among others, interpreter Fridolin) .
1954: The Imperial was renovated in 1954 by decorator Oscar Glas in addition to being equipped with the Cinérama system. This type of cinema will remain until the end of the 1960s.
1963: Films showing
1970: the cinema is sold to the Montreal company Cinéma International Ltée by Consolidated's successor, United Theaters. 1974: The new owner has two rooms fitted out there in 1974, the Ciné-Center I and II, by installing a partition which will henceforth separate the parterre from the balcony. 1980: It is sold in 1980 to United Theaters (later known as Famous Players), which gives it all its old charm and transforms it into a single room. Thanks to new, wider seats, to the rear part of the balcony which is now condemned to make room for office spaces and to the front part of the balcony whose slope has been redone, the capacity is increased to 932 seats. 1988: During the 1980s, the Imperial won the reputation of the best movie theater in Montreal. Notably thanks to the first THX certification in town, its 50-speaker sound system and its exceptional projection qualities, including the presentation of films in 70mm format. Following a marked shift in the market from movie theaters to multiplexes, the end of the 1980s heralded the end of Imperial as a commercial movie theater.
1995: Several major events have taken place at the Imperial since 1995, in addition to a multitude of small events, premieres and press screenings. Some auteur films have also been shown at the Imperial. The Imperial Cinema Center produced major film retrospectives and rented the hall for various activities, including film shoots, record launches, conferences, photo ops. 2001: The Imperial was officially recognized as a historic monument by the Quebec Ministry of Culture and Communications. 2002: A major restoration takes place from 2002 to 2004 to restore the theater to its former glory. The Imperial Cinema received an Orange Prize from Heritage Montreal in 2004 for the most beautiful restoration in Montreal.
2005: The property is transferred to Center Cinéma Impérial inc., A non-profit organization which administers the theater. Today, the Imperial, available for rental, plays host to a multitude of festivals, premieres and other special events.