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Children being treated at the Hospital for Sick Children will soon be able to see Hollywood movies for free in a state-of-the-art theatre, thanks to a handful of Toronto philanthropists who want to offer the young patients some much-needed escapism.

Spearheaded by Toronto filmmaker and advertising executive Barry Avrich, the theatre -- to be named Hollywood at Sick Kids -- will be announced today at a news conference, during which Oscar-nominated director Norman Jewison will unveil plans for the new $1-million-plus facility and Chantal Kreviazuk will perform.

Due to open in April, the 250-seat theatre on the second floor of the hospital will feature new releases from major Hollywood studios, with free admission for Sick Kids patients and their families. It will also screen family-friendly movies provided by Rogers Video and the Sprockets Toronto International Film Festival for Children.

"This theatre is for the patients and their families," said Mr. Avrich, whose films include The Last Mogul: The Life and Times of Lew Wasserman. "Movies have provided us the opportunity to escape, and there should be no boundaries to the ability to escape, including a hospital bed," he said, adding the films will also be broadcast via closed-circuit television to children who can't leave their beds.

Hollywood at Sick Kids is a first in North America, according to Mr. Avrich, who said there is a similar venue in Scotland.

The $1-million gift consists of a $500,000 donation along with $500,000 in-kind services. The theatre will be designed by Joe Brennan and Daniel Greenglass of J.F. Brennan Design Build Inc.

Other financial partners include Phillip and Peggy DeZwirek, Myrna and Jack Daniels, the Goodman family and Cineplex Odeon. Studio partners include Alliance Atlantis, Warner Brothers, Dreamworks, Universal, Fox, Sony, Samsung, Maple Pictures, Disney and Pixar.

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