Showing 26 - 50 of 165 comments
There was talk at one time or another in the 70’s and 80’s of dividing the Chicago, the State Lake or the Oriental. Whenever this was brought up it seemed to be at a time when that particular theater was having financial woes. It was decided, though, that dividing a palace into a multiplex was basically turning one losing theater into several. It also didn’t help that ticket prices were higher in the city plus they had to pay for parking. It would have been a losing proposition all around.
Cinemark the UA was, in my opinion, the most beautiful of the loop theaters. The decor and colors were simply amazing. The fact that the theater lasted longer than all but the Woods is a miracle but I think the decor had a lot to do with it. The owners had started letting it go in the late 70’s with video games too close to the auditorium doors so you could hear them inside. And don’t get me started on the problem with mice. In that category it was the worst theater of the bunch I think. If only the owners cared enough to take better care of these beautiful theaters.
As far as these new theaters go I am highly disappointed to see that nothing is happening now. It’s in a perfect spot and traffic for it would no doubt be heavy. No theater has opened in the loop in 60 years or so, so it is about time. Interestingly when the pedway opened late last year there was a directory stating the Muvico theaters was opening soon. Odd that Muvico dropped out last June yet they kept Muvico’s name on the directory several months later when opening to the public. Perhaps to lure prospective businesses? In any case Muvico’s name is STILL on the directory. They need to remove it.
Someone needs to put a good arthouse in there and bring back the traffic that the Fine Arts used to get. Give the Century Landmark a little competition and get rid of Piper’s Alley once and for all.
Piper’s Alley is the worst theater in the city. They are understaffed at the concession stand and with ushers. If there are ten people in the theater you can bet they are all in line and there is one girl behind the stand who, it appears, has been trained to go as slow as possible. No ushers ever patrol the auditoriums and the box office is now upstairs in the building and looks pretty tacky as you walk in. They are wasting that nice, big box office on the floor below. I don’t even think they use it on weekends anymore. The bathroom doors are propped open for some reason. The theaters have broken chairs and just don’t look clean anymore. It’s a shame because this theater COULD survive because there is no immediate competition in the area. AMC needs to act like it cares or close the place down.
Jerry Lynn, the man who worked security for this theater (and occasionally the other GCC’s in the area) for the midnight shows from the theater’s inception until midnight movies became passe in the 1990’s, died Easter Sunday, April 4, at the age of 59. Jerry was a big brutish looking man who had the heart of a ten year old. He was one of the nicest men I ever knew. He would confiscate beer and then split it with the ushers at the end of the night. After the midnight show we would eat at Around The Clock or Denny’s together. Southlake Cinema wouldn’t have been the same without his presence at those shows. The worst was for AC/DC’s “Let There Be Rock.” It was such a nightmare to work that GCC pulled it from any further midnight showings after too many problems nationwide occured the first weekend. We were no exception. People getting sick, threatening violence against the staff and those who didn’t get in threatening to damage the building and the cars in the lot. Jerry took it all in stride but got tough when he had to. You will be missed my friend but keep the beer cold and the cheeseburgers warm. R.I.P.
If that is the position the family has than they don’t really care about the theater. Why would they rather see it torn down than run by a true movie lover? That’s ridiculous.
Was there this past weekend to see “The Messenger.” It’s really sad compared to the way it used to be. They don’t even put the slides in the slots in front of the theaters to identify which movie is in which theater. Seats are broken and they are so understaffed I had to close the auditorium doors when the movie started (and noticed one of the theaters had theirs open the whole time) or we would have clearly heard the movie next door. It’s as if they stopped caring. That and the fact that they no longer do shows after 8pm? This theater will be gone within a year.
tim – I have seen the ads for THE STEWARDESSES and he actually used that same ad base for Russ Meyer’s VIXEN which played for almost a year there. Sadly I never got to enter the Loop, Carnegie or Cinema though I saw them all from the outside once or twice.
In my collection of reviews and such that I saved as a kid I have an interview Gene Siskel did with and about Oscar Brotman. Others interviewed were not fans of Brotman’s but admired what he did with the Loop Theater having to compete with the palances all around it. From 1969-71 the Loop was the most profitable of ALL the downtown theaters (an AMAZING feat) and the theater was nicknamed “The Little Giant.”
Tim – the story you tell is included in the article. It also talks about how he had a dolphin in a large fish tank on State Street during the run of FLIPPER and had an usher dressed as a gorilla when they ran the horrible film EQUINOX. For the movie BUCK AND THE PREACHER Brotman created place mats for restaurants all over the city. The studio refused to pay for even part of this so Brotman paid for it himself and the Loop had the highest grosses for BUCK AND THE PREACHER in the entire country. Then the studio came back and begged him to create this mats for other markets and not only paid for it all but reimbursed Brotman for the original batch.
Tim – I honestly don’t know for sure but I would guess they did as the theater was equipped for it.
Cinemark I would have to agree that the SL was the bigge rof the two screens but probably not by as much as one would think.
If you look at the booking list I printed above it confirms that the theater opened on 11/10/71 with FIDDLER.
Cinemark – CUTTERS WAY did play at the Biograph so you should be able to find it on microfilm as Tim suggested.
Try the website AMERICAN CLASSIC IMAGES. Click on Theaters and then Search for the state you want and go from there.
Ah yes the Beauty Spot. Let’s not forget Roma’s pizza just down the street on Ridge.
CinemarkFan – The last time I was by there the theater was still standing but that was early June. I haven’t heard anything so I assume it is still there but I suppose you never know.
Yes if you look at the other Loop palaces where I list the bookings you will find MANY re-releases through the years. WOODSTOCK and 2001 are just two that played many times through the years after their initial releases.
CineMark – No the big theater never really had the huge crowds it once had in the last years of its life. Even seeing each of the new STAR WARS films on opening night and I would say it was half full for each at best. The last really big crowd I can remember seeing there was the 1997 re-release of STAR WARS. SPIDERMAN had a fairly good crowd too.
Sadly the Loop had the reputation back then of being a dangerous place where whites would never be seen at night because African-American and Hispanic gangs were taking over the streets. This is one of the reasons, mostly unfounded by the way, that these beautiful palaces failed. People stopped showing up, especially at night. It didn’t help that the Oriental down the street had been taken over as home turf by one gang – one of the reasons that theater was eventually shuttered. But the reason for the double features like this was the need to try and grab the movie loving audience for a film like COTTON CLUB and then show a schlock horror film, marital arts or whatever to appeal to the gangs. I don’t know that I necessarily subscribe totally to that theory but it does make sense in a weird way. This theater was, after all, the last of the great palaces to close.
Cinemark I think that is an awesome idea. I really do. ANY film lover who loves that theater would enjoy that. Also, for some unexplained reason, I remember another movie I saw in #1 and I don’t see it listed anywhere in your lists above but I could be wrong. The reason I remember is a friend came to visit and didn’t believe we had such a big, beautiful theater as this one so I took him and the movie was THREE KINGS and the date would have been around September of 1999.
To help make ends meet a little better the new management of the Art has now started Saturday night Midnight showings of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and recently won the approval to serve liquor which is leading the way to have live performances and comedy shows. In fact the Art recently had a comedy night on Saturday which I found interesting that they would postpone what you would figure to be their busiest movie night of the week.
Actually this pic has to be from the late 70’s. The Oriental didn’t stop using the front of the marquee until late in its life. Plus if you look at my booking list above this is not playing in 1972.
Ken, the photo you have linked is from 1972 as the picture playing is CABARET. If you look at my list of bookings above you will see it opened in Feb that year and played until May. Great photo and thanks for sharing.
Those pictures are tremendous LTS! The State-Lake was one of the very few theaters I was in back in the 70’s and I remember just being blown away by its sheer size and elegance. Thankfully I didn’t know anything about the mice/rat problem or it might have made the experience totally different. Oh how I wish this building had survived as well.
PopcornFan – I just double checked my booking list for #4 and you are correct (not that I doubted you since you worked there) that both COMIN AT YA and HOUSE OF WAX played that screen. But I am positive I saw the two I listed across the street in the back at 5-6. So maybe 5-6 had both screens 3-D capable and #4 was made that way in preparation of COMIN AT YA. There was no real reason to make it 3-D capable when it opened in 1978 as 3-D movies were long in the past.
PopcornFan – I am pretty sure the 3-D was in 5-6 in the back. I saw “Dial M For Murder” and “Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone” in 3-D both in that building.