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Thank you for another great retrospective, Michael.
It was 1975, which means I was still 15 years away from entering the world. Anyway, my dad took my mom & oldest siblings to see “Jaws” at the General Cinema Ford City I-II-III on the southwest side of Chicago. My mother was pregnant with my second brother (who would be born the next month on 7/17). She has said that after the movie, she was feeling nauseous and had to go to the (women’s) restroom, which had a long line of women also feeling nauseous. For the other women, it was probably the shark violence that got to them. For my mom, it could’ve been the movie, or it could be that she was eight months pregnant. Perhaps it was both?
Amazing how things change. 15 years later, General Cinema opened a new 14 screen theater on the other side of the parking lot, closing the old theater which had 5 screens at the time. It is now the site of an Old Navy & other shops.
I would also like to add (if Michael or anyone might be interested in Ford City) that screens I and II both held (according to BO magazine) 1,250 each, which means “Jaws” opened in one of those screens. III was much smaller, possibly 500-700 seats. GC did some cut jobs in the 80s to make it a 5 screener.
It has just dawned on me that the Norridge’s 40th birthday is Saturday June 26th. It is doubtful that I’ll be able to finally visit, but you never know.
It’s life is really something. It went from two screens to ten. The movies that have played here cannot be measured. Right now, it is showing the remake of “Karate Kid”, and the original played here when it had 5 screens. And Like Paul Fortini said earlier in this thread, it has outlived its predecessors like the Old Orchard, the original Golf Mill, and the Lawrencewood aka Niles Square. And even in the face of its supposed successors (Bricktown, Cinemark Melrose, Rosemont etc.), it stands. Whether or not it still stands later this year or next remains to be seen. But it looks like Costco has moved on from its plans at Norridge, so we’ll see.
I must ask people who know the place, how big are the screens in #1, 2, 5 and 6? Do some screens in the 5-10 section have top-down masking?
The new AMC Randhurst 12 has started construction & will open in May 2011. Link.
I find it odd that the new theater will have 4 less screens than the old. Could it be that area competition has made 16 screens less-than profitable?
Well, I will get out here to visit again before it’s replaced.
More from RO’s Plitt/Cineplex era
2/17/84 – FOOTLOOSE
10/5/84 – TEACHERS
5/2/86 – JO JO DANCER: YOUR LIFE IS CALLING
2/10/89 – THE FLY II
4/28/89 – FIELD OF DREAMS
4/27/90 – THE GUARDIAN
3/13/92 – MY COUSIN VINNY
11/13/92 – BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA
4/15/94 – ABOVE THE RIM (no kidding)
5/13/94 – CROOKLYN
11/11/94 – INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE
11/23/94 – A LOW DOWN DIRTY SHAME (I liked this movie, but no way I would’ve booked it in 9-10 over “ST: Generations”)
12/9/94 – DROP ZONE
If I owned it now…
11/6/09 – PRECIOUS
11/20/09 – THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON
12/11/09 – UP IN THE AIR
12/18/09 – AVATAR (3-D XL)
2/19/10 – SHUTTER ISLAND
3/6/10 – ALICE IN WONDERLAND (3-D XL)
3/27/10 – THE GHOST WRITER (moveover from 1-6)
4/2/10 – TYLER PERRY’S WHY DID I GET MARRIED 2
4/16/10 – KICK-ASS
5/7/10 – IRON MAN 2
5/28/10 – PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME
6/4/10 – SPLICE
6/11/10 – THE A-TEAM
6/30/10 – THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE
7/16/10 – INCEPTION
PopcornFan, I was able to see pictures (at facebook) of RO durning its years as 1-4. I must say, wow! That was a lot of red in that lobby. I have a few questions regarding some of the interior photos.
Is this 1-4 or another RO theater?
Is that a teaser poster for Scarface in the background?
In this photo taken in the lobby of #4, does anyone know what movie is playing there? Or what was playing at 1-4 around that time? I think it could be “A View to a Kill”, because I can make out the poster of that over on the far right, with the man in blue by the games.
Looking at the photos, I am even more inspired to try and restore this building. Some say it will be costly (I believe that), but its worth it.
Uuuhhh. If LieMAX is the future for IMAX corp, then I’ll keep seeking out the UltraScreens from Marcus Theatres.
I got this in my email today
“Dear Five Buck Club Member of City North 14 and Webster Place,
I wrote you recently about AMC’s acquisition of the Kerasotes Theatres. In a subsequent transaction, AMC has sold the City North 14 and Webster Place to Regal Cinemas. Regal will take over management of these two locations effective May 25, 2010.
We have been asked by Regal to inform you that they will not be honoring Five Buck Club cards after they assume operation of these locations on May 25, 2010.
Thank you for your patronage.
With the AMC-Kerasotes merger on the horizon, this theater along with the Gardens 13, Glen 10, and Showplace 12 @ Bolingbrook will be sold to another chain as part of the anti-trust agreement.
With the proposed 7 screen, 800 seat configuration, I don’t know if it would’ve been a good idea anyway. With 7 screens, you need at least 1200-1300 seats for the amount of people who would be going there. Oh well, perhaps a small multiplex on the top floors of the Sullivan Center could be built. In any case, a theater in the loop should be a few bucks cheaper than the Showplace ICON. The prices there are jacked up.
And I wish I could’ve been alive to see the United Artists up close.
God willing, next year I will have some good news to share regarding my theater corporation. I have a name too, and I’m getting ready to get it copyrighted. I’m also doing some polishing on my business plan, as things have changed somewhat with the whole digital projection/fathom events thing.
Anyway, Piper’s Alley would be a nice location for my corporation. If I got my hands on it, I would put in rocking leather seats (similar to the leather seats at the Lake), a fresh decor/color scheme reminiscent of say, older M & R theaters or movie palaces. The concessions would be a bit upscale, with different salts/flavorings for popcorn, different toppings for a hot dog, and items like fresh teas/coffee and the like. Programming would be art fare, but I am willing to pay extra for a Chicago area exclusive, such as movies in limited run during oscar season. And #1 would be ideal for running a 70mm festival. It’s screen has to be about 45-50 feet wide, and thats bigger than the Landmark.
And yes, the box office downstairs would be put back into use.
Thanks for the info Tim. Now I can kinda remember #1 now. That auditorium, along with River Oaks’s screen 9 were probably the biggest auditoriums of the south suburbs in their day. And sadly, both went down due to changing times and rough audiences.
Since #2 was the one that was twinned, does this mean that #1 retained a seating capacity of 1000+ throughout its 35 year run? I remember seeing movies (notably “Pulp Fiction” & “Waiting to Exhale”) in there, and I remember it being a big auditorium, but I don’t remember it being THAT big. Do you or anyone else think the capacity of #1 was reduced to 900+ when it got new seats in the 80s?
Thank you so much Joe! I’ve always wanted to see pictures of it as a twin. And for the first time, I was able to see the outside in its entirety.
When we would go there, we would enter via the second level of Carson’s, and walk up a flight of stairs to the box office. And when leaving, go down stairs to the bus stop.
That exterior was really nice and dare I say it, better than any of these new AMC/Regal complexes.
The Bloomingdale Court (opened Dec 1989) is open under Picture Show Entertainment as a 2nd run house. The CO style lobby marble, and the neon around the auditorium entrances remain, but it’s been repainted for the most part. I believe the auditoriums themselves no longer have the zig-zag pattern on the walls.
Rivertree Court (opened Oct 1988) is still open under Kerasotes. It’s CO decor remains. It’s future however, is uncertain. Because AMC is buying Kerasotes (deal should be complete later this year, or next year), some theaters will have to be let go. AMC may run RT and the nearby Showplace 8 for a while, but they may take over Kerasotes’s plans to build a multi inside the Hawthorn Mall. If that comes to fruition, then the writing’s on the wall.
River Oaks 1-6 (opened Dec 1988) is closed with no plans (by someone else) in store. I however, hope to buy 1-6 along with 7-8, and the glorious 9-10.
North Riverside (opened Nov 1990) is open under Classic Cinemas. You can tell from the brown exterior outside, and the long corridors inside that it was a CO theater. But it’s been remodeled for the most part.
As for those built/taken over and remodeled during the 86-90 explosion, they’re all gone
Biograph (redone CO style in June 1988) is now the Victory Gardens Biograph.
Broadway (redone CO style April 1988) was closed and renamed the Lakeshore. Under new management, it was a live performance theater for comedy and other things. It is getting ready to close again. The future is uncertain.
Burnham Plaza (opened Dec 1988) is now a medical office.
Bricktown Square (opened May 1989) is a Sportmart.
Chestnut Station (redone CO style April 1988) is long gone. Walk around that corner of Clark & Chestnut, and one wouldn’t know that a five screen cineplex was even there.
900 North Michigan (opened same time as Rivertree in Oct 1988) is now a gym. It is my belief that when it was in the planning stages, it should’ve been a 4-6 screener on the upper levels of the mall. 2 screens in a basement didn’t quite fit the bill.
McClurg Court (redone CO style Dec 1987) is closed and awaiting other use. I hope to buy it and turn it into an arthouse/1st run/revival hybrid.
Oakbrook 1-4 (opened same time as McClurg) was gutted/turned into shops.
Golf Glen (redone part CO style April 1988) is now called Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5. It’s 6th screen may be a restaurant. They show Bollywood films. The decor was changed dramatically.
Grove Cinemas (opened same time as Ridge Plaza in Oct 1986) has been gutted, and part of it torn down. The rest is an Indian banquet.
Ridge Plaza (see above) was gutted inside and turned into an X-port fitness.
Commons of Chicago Ridge (opened June 1988) is now an X-port fitness.
Rice Lake Square (opened Dec 1989) is now a Linens-n-Things.
One Schaumburg Place (opened Nov 1991) was gutted inside and out. The whole complex is now the Streets of Woodfield.
It is interesting to note that Commons of CR , Ridge Plaza, and the Golf Mill (never redone CO style I don’t think) were all turned into X-port fitness centers.
Anyway, these Mesbur & Smith designed CO’s are truly endangred species. Frequent those that are still standing, otherwise they will become just distant memories.
If any 3-D movie I want to see is presented with Real-D glasses, I’ll be sneaking into them (I have Real-D glasses). $16.00? **** that.
On a side note, anybody NOT seeing Clash of the Titans in 3-D? I know I’m not, because it was shot in 35mm Panavision Anamorphic. And they’re releasing it in 3-D to make money off us.
If someone expressed interest in building a new theater nearby, where might one be erected?
I now have a photobucket account, but I still can’t view the album.
“Go fetch my shine box!”
Anyway, it’s official 20th anniversary isn’t until September 21st. But yes, happy 20th. And I myself will turn 20 next saturday.
Thanks for the link. I can’t view it however, because I don’t have a photobucket account. So I’ll get on that sometime today.
If it were open today…
5/29/09 – UP 3-D
7/1/09 – PUBLIC ENEMIES
7/15/09 – HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE
8/7/09 – JULIE & JULIA
8/14/09 – DISTRICT 9
8/28/09 – THE FINAL DESTINATION 3-D
9/11/09 – TYLER PERRY’S I CAN DO BAD ALL BY MYSELF
9/18/09 – CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 3-D
10/9/09 – GOOD HAIR
10/16/09 – WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
10/23/09 – LAW ABIDING CITIZEN (moveover from #8)
10/28/09 – MICHAEL JACKSON’S THIS IS IT
11/6/09 – THE FOURTH KIND
11/13/09 – PRECIOUS
11/20/09 – THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON
12/4/09 – ARMORED
12/18/09 – AVATAR 3-D
Right on JSA. And when I finally get to travel to Los Angeles, I look forward to visiting the Cinerama Dome. I’ve heard nothing but great things.
As a theater chain owner-to be, I will be fully committed to bringing showmanship back to the movies. I understand that ads bring income to the theaters, but I think the most important auditoriums should be true showplaces, and that’s what I aim to do. Of course, limit ads along the way.
Digital projection or not, movie theaters need to take a page from the 50s and give audiences what on-demand or DVD can’t give you at home, a giant movie on a giant screen, complete with ushers, curtain tabs and the like. Movie theaters will never go away, as there are still to many people in this world who are social. And even with the flaws of theaters today, I am a movie/theater buff, and I won’t give up on them.
With this talk from the studios, filmmakers need to pull out those 65mm cameras and shoot important tentpole releases with them. 65mm can only make digital look better than what it really is.
Movie theaters aren’t going nowhere folks. But expect anarchy from filmmakers, because I doubt Chris Nolan wants people to see “Inception”, or the next Batman first run in a damn living room.
I was going through some microfilm from 1990, and I’m in awe of the discovery that the Rutger Hauer b-movie, “The Blood of Heroes” ran here from 2/23/90 – 3/15/90. For anyone who may have worked here or went here during that time, is that correct? I’m finding it hard to believe because it grossed only 882k at the BO.
This theater now has a digital LIEMAX screen that AMC keeps putting up. Since the auditoriums (before LIEMAX) held approx 140-290, I imagine the screen holds no more that 220-230 people tops.
And you get to pay up to $14 dollars for the scam too!