Plitt and Cineplex-Odeon in Chicago

posted by CatherineDiMartino on January 23, 2008 at 10:55 am

Can someone help me with this? I know that Cineplex-Odeon took over Plitt Theatres in Chicago. Are there any former Plitt Theatres in Chicagoland still functioning as movie houses?

Also, I noticed that most of the cinemas that Cineplex-Odeon built in the Chicagoland Area circa 1985 to 1990 have closed. C-O built these, supposedly to modernize the movie-going experience, but few remain and I think that a few have already been demolished. Besides the Lincoln Village, how many cinemas built by C-O remain as movie theatres?

Please note that I am not looking for theatres converted to other uses such as fitness centers. Nor am I looking for ones converted to concert halls or playhouses. I’m looking for ones that are still functioning primarily as cinemas. Thank you.

Theaters in this post

Comments (14)

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on January 23, 2008 at 2:12 pm

I can’t think of any Plitt sites that are still showing movies. Plitt had a lot of older properties in Chicago: United Artists, Chicago, Nortown, Will Rogers. Even the newer ones, like Fox Valley, are totally outmoded by today’s standards.

I’ve always wondered what happened to Henry Plitt after he sold his business. Did he retire or get into something else?

CSWalczak on January 23, 2008 at 2:55 pm

I am sure of only one theater originally opened by Cineplex Odeon that is still operating within Chicago and that is the 600 North Michigan Avenue multiplex which opened in 1996.

alex35mm on January 23, 2008 at 4:36 pm

Old Orchard 7-13 in Skokie opened as a Cineplex Odeon back in 1996 or so and still operates today under AMC. Kerasotes operates the Rivertree Court Cinema in Vernon Hills which opened in 1988 as an original 80s decor Cineplex Odeon it all its glory.

From what I can understand most of these theaters although state of the art particularly the ones built in the late 1980s faded quickly due to a rapidly changing standard for theater environments. Digital sound became all the rage and shortly after most of the “zig-zag” era Cineplexes opened in this area and stadium seating became the norm. Other then that I believe spotty management (the union walk out) and outrages spending on amenities took the toll on Cineplex Odeon. An old friend of mine who used to manage a top CO location told me about how they would fly managers out first class to california with 4-star accommodations for “company meetings” all the time.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on January 23, 2008 at 5:18 pm

Life’s too short
Henry Plitt would be 90 if he is still around. I know he was a General in the U.S. Army Reserves. During World War II he captured a Nazi arch-antisemite which is sorta ironic seeing that Henry Plitt was Jewish, an interesting fellow. You can see his picture and hear/read his war story at the site below.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, This is CINERAMA!” Lowell Thomas
September 30, 1952

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on January 23, 2008 at 7:05 pm

I got distracted by Henry Plitt. I thought some dates might be helpful on when Plitt was here and when Cineplex Odeon was here. So here are those dates and for the fun of it all the important dates for Chicago theaters. Lets start at the very begining and see if I’ve got this sorta right?
1916 Balaban and Katz (B&K) Corporation formed.
1926 Famous Players Lasky Corporation buys a controlling interest in B&K.
1949 B&K becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of United Paramount Theatres.
1953 United Paramount Theatres mergers with American Broadcasting Company (ABC).
1970 B&K now a subsidiary of ABC is officially dissolved.
1974 Henry Plitt aquires from ABC Paramount the 123 northern division theaters for 25 million dollars.
1985 Cineplex-Odeon acquires Plitt Theaters.
1998 Lowes and Cineplex merge.
2006 AMC acquires Lowes.
Did I make any mistakes?

“Gee Dad, it was a WurliTzer!”

telliott on January 23, 2008 at 7:08 pm

Yes it’s LOEWS…..not LOWES…that’s the home improvement store.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on January 23, 2008 at 7:24 pm

Ah yes, Marcus Loew would never forgive me, thanks.

JAlex on January 23, 2008 at 8:36 pm

As well, diehards (like myself) always put an apostrophe in LOEW’S.

Broan on January 23, 2008 at 11:34 pm

Henry Plitt died in February 1993.

Navy Pier IMAX was CO
Rivertree Court
River Oaks
Chicago Ridge (opened under Essaness)
North Riverside
Nova 8, Naperville (Opened 1992 as Westridge)
The three I.C.E. theaters were effectively CO
Quarry 14, Hodgkins – Apparently the last to open in the area as CO

In 1996 CO had announced plans for a 14-screen at Scottsdale Shopping Centre that likely would not have replaced Ford City fully. They got so far as clearing the site for construction before the City Council denied a zoning change. There were also plans for a 9-14 screen next to Great America and a 14-10 screen in Addison which received approval.

The Old Orchard theaters were planned as early as 1986, at the time it was to be a 8-screen. The Woodfield Mall theaters were the last to open under the Plitt name; Ridge Plaza was begun as a Plitt project (which may explain its unusually large size). 900 N Michigan was going to be 4 screens under Plitt but decreased to 2 when CO took over. Incidentally, opening Oct. 3, 1986, the Ridge Plaza and Grove theater complexes were the first to bear the CO name in the market.

Coate on January 24, 2008 at 11:40 am

The acquisition of Plitt by Cineplex Odeon was countrywide, not just in Chicago. And, while the deal, I believe, was made in 1985, many of the venues retained their Plitt name through 1986-87. The Northpoint in San Francisco, for instance, used the Plitt name well into 1987, and during the latter months of ‘87 went under the “Cineplex Odeon-Plitt” hyphenate.

CatherineDiMartino on January 25, 2008 at 6:11 pm

Old microfilm of the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times indicate what Michael Coate says. And it looks like for awhile there, they were also trading under the name “Plitt-Essaness.”

aek316 on January 31, 2008 at 3:01 pm

There may be two less old Cineplex’s soon! Village Entertainment’s website has expired! The site is pending renewal or deletion. The company must be on it’s last legs to have their website expire! I better run out to their theaters while I still can! I’ve never been to Village North or Lincoln Village and haven’t been to North Riverside since Village took it over-

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on October 3, 2009 at 1:47 pm

Believe it or not, I still have my Plitt Theatre Employees' card. WONDER how many are still around.

cpitts on March 30, 2011 at 12:23 am

Yes, Mike Rogers, some of us are still around! I was an employee at Plitt from 1980-1996 in the corporate office. Although I don’t have my employee badge, I do have a “Plitt Theatres” button we used to wear. Henry Plitt was in the 101st Airborne and was supposedly one of the first to drop in to Normandy. He captured Julius Streicher in Austria. Streicher ended up in the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial and sentenced to death-(yes it is ironic that Plitt was a Jew). Henry was a pioneer in the theatre business, a real war hero, and was also a very generous man to charities. Bless his soul.

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