Wednesday, September 09, 2009

How Do I Buy Tickets for TIFF 2009? - Part 4

This is the fourth in a series of posts on how to buy tickets for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). In this post, we'll look at ways you can purchase tickets while the festival is underway.

You can purchase tickets in advance (i.e. not on the same day of the screening) by the following methods:

Online at

At the Festival Box Office at Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen St W

  • September 4 to 18: 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM
  • September 19: 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM

At the Festival Box Office at Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St

  • September 4 to 18: 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM
  • September 19: 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM

By phone at (416) 968-FILM, or toll-free at 1-877-968-FILM

  • September 4 to 18: 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM
  • September 19: 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM
On the day of the screening, in addition to the above methods you can also purchase tickets at the venue box office; i.e. the box office located at each theatre showing films for the festival. Venue box offices open one hour before the first scheduled screening of the day at that theatre, and close 30 minutes after the last scheduled screening of the day at that theatre.

Ticket prices are as follows:

  • Regular Public Screenings - $19.76, Student/Senior - $17.14 (in person only, same-day sales only)
  • Premium Public Screenings - $38.33, Student/Senior - $19.05 (in person only, same-day sales only)
  • Children’s Tickets for Sprockets Family Zone programming only - Child (12 and under) - $12.86

Prices do not include GST, building-fund fee, or service charges. You can pay by cash, debit, or Visa.

You can purchase a maximum of 4 tickets to a single screening. All sales are final; to exchange tickets, there is a $2.50 fee per ticket, and you can only do exchanges up to the day before the screening (i.e. no same day exchanges allowed). Exchanges can only be performed at the Nathan Phillips Square or Roy Thomson Hall box offices.

For Student and Senior (+65) discounts, you need to present your ID with your ticket when entering the screening.

If a particular screening is marked as Off Sale, i.e. sold out, then keeping trying throughout the festival. People may exchange their tickets for other movies, and those originals are then released back for sale.

Additional tickets may also be made available the day of the screening, so try checking then. The TIFF website will list their "best bets" for same day tickets available on the following day, on the website at, and through e-mail if you subscribe to their TIFF Alerts at

Try a different screening. Screenings early in the week tend to sell out faster than those later in the festival.

Try checking the forums at TIFF Reviews, at People will often post if they are looking to trade their tickets.

If all else fails, you can try the rush line outside the theatre screening your film. If any last minute seats open up, because someone doesn't show up for their screening, or seats reserved for people associated with the film aren't all filled, the theatre may release those seats. People in the rush line will get first crack at purchasing any seats that come available (sales are cash only, so make sure you have enough on you). Note there is no guarantee anyone in the rush line will be able to get in.

On occasion, ticket holders that don't want to see the film or that have extra tickets, may go down the rush line offering their extras; I've been on both ends of this before, where I've sold my ticket to someone in the line, or been in the line and bought a ticket off of someone looking to sell.

Some tips for the festival:

  • Make sure you are in the right line. Ask festival volunteers (the ones with the headsets or festival t-shirts) what line you should be in. Multiplexes like the Varsity will have multiple films lining up at the same time, so you want to make sure you are in the right one. Plus, each theatre has a rush line as well, which is for people who still want to buy tickets, not those who already have one.
  • Be at the theatre at least 15 minutes before the start of the screening, otherwise you are not guaranteed a seat, even if you have a ticket. If you arrive more than 10 minutes after the scheduled start of a movie, they may not let you in.
  • Not all theatres allow food and/or drink. The Cumberland, Varsity, AMC, and Scotiabank theatres allow food/drink since they are all part of the big theatre chains, but other theatres like Ryerson do not. So don't buy take-out or a big coffee right before you go into one of those.
  • Don't leave empty seats next to you. Squeeze in, because generally speaking, every film will be playing to a packed house.
  • Be aware of where you sit if you are watching a subtitled movie. Not all theaters have good sight lines to the bottom of the screen.
  • If you have limited time between screenings, don't forget all the factors that might affect you: many screenings will have a Q&A after the movie, and the time for any Q&A is not factored into the screening time in the schedule (you're not obliged to stick around for the Q&A, though); films will occassionally start late for a variety of reasons; some theatres are far apart from one another.
  • If you're watching a Midnight Madness film at midnight, don't forget that the subway may not be running by the time the film ends, so plan accordingly.
  • Speaking of Q&As, if you're going to speak up, make sure you actually have a question or keep it short. No one else wants to hear you gush over the director or cast for 5 minutes, no matter how good the film was. If you want to do that, try to catch them after the Q&A is over. In a similar vein, it generally does not go over well if you want to spend your question severely criticizing the director without anything constructive to say or ask.
  • Don't forget to turn off your cell phone, and for pete's sake, don't text or talk through the movie (especially if you're in the industry; the rest of us don't care how much of a Hollywood bigshot you are :-))
  • It should go without saying that you shouldn't be taping movies, but in case that's not obvious, I've been at a number of films where they've had people scanning the audience during the screening, with and without night-vision goggles. Also note that taping movies is now a criminal offense that could net you 2 years in prison.
  • Be nice to the volunteers; they don't get paid for this (other than getting a ticket from whatever is still available after having worked for several hours in a row). Just think about how much *more* expensive the festival would be without them. :-)

If you want a really detailed breakdown of tips of what to do during the festival, check out Larry Richman's series of posts, the first of which is linked below:


My experiences at the Toronto International Film Festival. Note this blog is not affiliated with the Toronto International Film Festival Group or the festival itself.
Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites