Uptown Theatre

4816 North Broadway,
Chicago, IL 60640

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Showing 1 - 25 of 455 comments

BobbyS on April 10, 2016 at 9:27 pm

The doors of the Rialto would not open without tax money. City council gives the theatre $600,000 quarterly. No idea how much the state gives yearly. Buts it’s plenty I bet. The events booked are one nighters with shows that travel the nation from city to city. Yes they do alot of weddings, but expenses are high. Probably the same for the Genesse theater in Waukegan, IL which changed hands many times since it was restored. Can you imagine how much the Uptown would have to make to fill all those seats and to make a profit and pay all of the bills & taxes to the city of Chicago. These palaces were built with the idea of filling seats three or four times daily!

Scott on April 8, 2016 at 11:46 pm

I didn’t realize the Rialto Square Theatre relied, in part, on tax revenue. I love the place but I don’t see why the government should be funding the operation of a theatre. I know many theatres are owned and operated by municipalities, but I assumed they were largely, or completely, self-sustaining.

LuisV on April 7, 2016 at 12:34 pm

I think the Kings is doing well. They just celebrated their first year!

BobbyS on April 7, 2016 at 5:37 am

Without money coming in on a regular basis, these places cannot exist…all the movies and music acts mentioned above. Just heard the Rialto Theatre in Joliet is closing this month. The city is withholding their share and of course the state still owes them a grant from last year. Two events planned in April demanded their money in advance. Vendors from previous shows have not be paid in months. I wonder how the King’s in NY is doing and if they are filling up the seats?

Scott on April 7, 2016 at 12:57 am

David, I believe you’re correct about JAM being the only one at the sale. However, at the time I was thinking that their interest was really in controlling the property, rather than spearheading a renovation. I am probably wrong about that, but it is curious nothing has happened with the theatre since. I realize there are a myriad of hurdles standing in the way of re-development, none of which are JAM’s fault. The Uptown Theatre is an incredible building with a multitude of factors working against it.

DavidZornig on April 6, 2016 at 11:21 pm

As I recall, when JAM first obtained ownership, they were the only ones who had showed up at the sale. The city later wanted JAM to partner with Live Nation on the Uptown, who the city was already in bed with at the former Charter One Pavilion I think. Partnering with Live Nation would never happen according to JAM at the time. There are details of it and the reasons why, buried in the comments dating back to 2008 or `09. I recall an article mentioning an old, leaked Live Nation e-mail that said “Kill, crush, destroy JAM. (Which still comes up on Google) I also recall that back then the Uptown needed an estimated 30 million in asbestos removal. Live Nation once had ownership of a much smaller theatre/venue in Nashville I think, that also had a recording studio in it. And they couldn’t even keep that open. So their input likely would not have been of any importance to JAM, even if they had partnered. As JAM has successfully owned and ran the Riviera for decades. I believe they only manage the Aragon. Discussed in previous threads too, was the types of shows that would need to run almost constantly after reopening, to break even on the huge cost of all the needed renovations. And mainly music shows at that, since road shows of say Broadway In Chicago would likely not have adequate load-in. Or the ability to sell 4000+ seats regularly. In my opinion converting to digital projection so films could again be run on off nights, might pick up the slack. Larger music acts would likely opt for the United Center to guarantee a larger payout.

Scott on April 6, 2016 at 5:55 pm

Hi Bobby. I suspect you’re right about JAM expecting government assistance from a combination of city, state, or federal programs. I also suspect, though I have nothing to back it up, that JAM wanted the Uptown to keep other players, such as Livent, from getting a major foothold in the Uptown neighborhood. A restored Uptown Theatre could divert some shows away from JAM’s Aragon Ballroom and Riviera Theatre, which would threaten their viability.

BobbyS on April 6, 2016 at 6:47 am

Hi Scott! I really believe they thought the City of Chicago would kick in and pledge the $$$$$$$ since they have a favorite son in Washington. Eight years later, Chicago is as broke as a church mouse!

Scott on April 6, 2016 at 12:32 am

No doubt JAM has tax deductible expenses associated with the Uptown, but it doesn’t make sense to keep a property like this just to have deductible expenses. It’s better not to have the expense in the first place. I have questioned JAM’s intentions with the Uptown since they won the bid to purchase the theatre in 2008.

stantheman2016 on February 15, 2016 at 4:36 pm

The Uptown Theater on Broadway Avenue has been closed since 1981. I’m sick of looking at it. Restore it to its former greatness or knock it down already. Right now its just a tax write off.

LouRugani on February 12, 2016 at 12:14 am

On the positive side, the chaser mechanism kept the bulbs off for fractions of a second. With modern technology I’m sure the LEDs could be made to be not only tungsten-color-correct but, more importantly, avoid the sudden harsh On/Off that gives away LED bulb usage. They’re even making LED Edison-look “carbon” bulbs now.

BobbyS on February 11, 2016 at 4:22 pm

Thanks Lou..I can imagine the electric bill was HUGE !!

LouRugani on February 11, 2016 at 1:49 am

They’re 11-watt S-14 sign bulbs.

BobbyS on February 10, 2016 at 4:44 pm

The marquee bulbs were so bright and made quite a statement at night. What wattage was each bulb? So much better than the LED’S of today. I do not like the led lights the Chicago now has on their marquee.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on February 10, 2016 at 2:27 pm

The Uptown was the largest movie theatre ever designed by the architectural firm of Rapp & Rapp. It was also one of only three theatres by Rapp & Rapp with more than 4,000 seats, the two others being the Brooklyn Paramount and the Michigan in Detroit.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on February 7, 2016 at 5:00 pm

The Uptown Theatre had its grand opening on August 18th, 1925, a date that was somehow not included with the ad posted in the Photos Section.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on February 6, 2016 at 9:57 pm

It ought to be mentioned in the introduction that the Uptown was the largest movie/vaudeville theatre in Chicago, and the 12th largest in the USA, according to records kept by Theatre Historical Society of America. And in Chicago, the Uptown was larger than any such in the entertainment hub known as “The Loop.”

LuisV on January 27, 2015 at 12:04 am

Until recently, arguably, the two most magnificent of the world’s remaining unrenovated theaters were the Uptown in Chicago and the Loew’s Kings in Brooklyn. That title now belongs to the Uptown alone! The Loew’s Kings $95MM restoration and expansion has been completed! Here is a great link to some incredible photographs of the fully restored masterpiece by Rapp & Rapp. FREE Tours to the public will be offered on Saturday, February 7th from 12:00 – 4:00 PM! I can’t wait to see it for myself! The first event, a sold out performance by Diana Ross, is on February 3rd!!!!! I hope this gives fans of the Uptown in Chicago some hope! http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2015/01/26/behold_brooklyns_magnificently_restored_kings_theatre.php#more

moviefanaticfan on January 11, 2015 at 5:32 pm

Here is a video link


whtesoxfan56 on November 19, 2014 at 8:29 pm

So are all the Transformers(2014? I’ve lost count of the # of Transformers movies Bay has done, since I don’t care about them for the most part, since calling it quits to this series after Transformers 2) Uptown Theater scenes, only at the beginning of the film, and there aren’t any later in the plot? Interesting to know, since I’d still like to catch this movie on cable at some point, and just watch the Uptown Theater scenes outta minor curiosity.

Trolleyguy on June 29, 2014 at 5:19 am

The new “Transformers” movie prominently features the Uptown at the beginning of the film. The only thing is, that it has been moved to a small town in Texas. There are shots in the lobby and auditorium, as well as the projection room.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on May 6, 2014 at 9:26 am

There’s been some talk of locating a George Lucas museum here. So far it doesn’t seem too serious.


paullewis on March 9, 2014 at 11:42 pm

Like Justin Whitfield I wish I had a substantial amount of money to donate towards the restoration of what has to be one of the top 5 or 6 Movie Palaces of all time. In Australia they have managed to save the Melbourne Regent (auditorium although not as large, based on the much lamented Capitol/New York, my all time favourite) The Sydney State with one of the finest lobbies anywhere and of course the wonderful Capitol in Sydney. The loss of the Brisbane Regent was a disgrace, arguably the finest overall in the country.

JustinWhitfield on June 16, 2013 at 5:35 am

One of my favourite theatres in the world…I wish we had a grand theatres like this one here in Australia…

If i had the money i would love to buy this theatre or one like this one, Like many others, just to bring her back to life.. And I know from the local TV station that’s this is what is about to happen to the Uptown.

I believe that people love these grand theatre because there is such an emotional connection and an experience that you can not get any where else in the world.

Walking through that grand foyer alone would be just the biggest wow factor let alone walking into the theatre itself to here your favourite band, movie etc.

Would love to be part of helping in the restoration of this grand theatre as I had a lot to do with the capital Theatre in Sydney Australia from the entire audio system it was an Honor to work there for two years, and from that I have had a massive passion for large theatres as it is my dream to own one, one day soon. And was honoured to be the sound engineer for the first opening it was amazing…

The funny thing is I am looking to move to the USA in the next year or two for business.

Would love to be part of the dream is their anything that I can do here in Australia as i know there looking to raise $80- $100 million

Your biggest fan

Justin Whitfield

LouRugani on May 12, 2013 at 5:28 pm

WGN-TV’s ( www.wgntv.com/ ) live News at Nine (PM) on Tuesday May 14 will take its cameras inside the UPTOWN Theatre to see how it looks today. Then on Wednesday, May 15’s News at Nine reports on plans for a planned music district centered around the theatre. And then on May 15 at 10 pm, CLTV will broadcast a live half-hour special “Creating a Music District” with theatre owner Jerry Mickelson, Alderman James Cappleman and the Green Mill Lounge owner Dave Jemilo with host Randi Belisomo to discuss plans and take viewers' questions, which can be submitted in advance to the CLTV Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/cltvnews?ref=tn_tnmn ) or by phone to 877-358-CLTV. Follow the discussion on Twitter with @CLTVNews and use the hashtag #Uptown. All of the stories will be posted on www.wgntv.com and www.cltv.com.