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This theatre was opened by Sony-Loews, which at the time branded its theatres as “Sony Theatres.” Sony-Loews may have grossly miscalculated on this one. As I understand it, the nearby AMC South Barrington 30 had been “on the drawing boards” for quite sometime and may have already been proposed when this theatre was built.
Sony-Loews and Loews-Cineplex used to have a mini-map in their advertisements showing the location of this theatre. They did the same for the Rice Lake Square.
I am really dreading this merger. This will leave only one major chain operating within the city limits of Chicago. I really wonder what will happen to some of my favorite theatres (I live in Downtown) including the 600 North (too close to River East 21, the Esquire (because AMC doesn’t show indies and foreign films), the Piper’s Alley (ditto), and the City North 14 and the Webster Place (both in proximity to each other and on the divestiture list).
Note the many chains that were predecessors to Loews'-AMC. All were once major players in the Chicagoland Area: Balaban & Katz, Plitt, Essaness, M&R. All were predecessors of Cineplex-Odeon or Sony-Loews prior to that merger.
Maybe I’ll just go to the Three Penny Cinema.
I meant to say “for the first time in a long time.”
I was here for the first time recently (on a Saturday afternoon) to see KING KONG. I hadn’t been here in a long time and it reminded me of the Burnham Plaza Theatre—another 1980s theatre, once owned by Village (and many others). While basically clean, it looked a little down at the heels and like the Burnham, there are still Cineplex-Odeon signs.
It was like having a private screening as we were the only ones in the auditorium. It seems to me that Village Theatres tries to make an earnest go with the older theatres they’ve purchased/leased. But Village also seems to lack capital and they should advertise their theatres in the papers. They have, however, recently re-started their website, so that’s a positive sign.
If Keresotas does indeed build a new cinema at Golf Mill, then this places days are certainly numbered.
I heard somewhere that a chain actually owns this theatre. Is this true or is the Davis independent? I believe it was an Essaness at one time, one of only about 4 remaining in the Chicagoland Area.
Is this theatre on the “hit-list” for divestment, due to the Loews-AMC merger? This seems to be the Near North Side’s “Art House” and AMC, undoubtedly the dominant merger partner, doesn’t seem to show that type of fare.
This could be another theatre for someone like Village to take over (and could be operated in conjunction with the Village Art theatre around the corner).
It would be a shame to have this place close. Admittedly, some of the lustre has worn off of this theatre. But it could be made good again. It’s in a popular location, close to restaurants and bars and there’s a Barnes & Noble in the same strip mall. The only thing is it’s not on a bus line nor close to the L, but a METRA stop (Clybourn) is only about 4 blocks away.
Considering their recent take-over of the Lincoln Village, this would be a good theatre for Village to take over.
I can’t imagine AMC voluntarily selling off this place, rather it seems court-ordered. Any word on who might want it (Keresotas, Regal, Cinemark)? This place is too big and too new for someone like Village Theatres to take over.
Here is a great link to an article about the pitfalls of theatre restoration. It is from CRAINS CHICAGO BUSINESS.
This theatre had one drawback—it was not located in the Old Orchard Shopping Center proper. Once Cineplex-Odeon constructed theatres in the shopping center, attendance at this place went down. M&R owned the Old Orchard and when both chains ended up in the Loews-Cineplex camp, it didn’t make sense to retain both of them. As Life’s Too Short says above, it was an obvious choice for Loews to unload this one to Meridian.
Check out www.cinematour.com for pictures of the Old Orchard after closure. Someone really went nuts TPing the place!
You’re right, now that I remember it. Sometimes with all the mergers that took place, it’s hard to remember who owned what. For example, M&R owned this place, the Norridge, the Portage Park (I believe) the Lawrencewood, etc. M&R was bought out by Sony/Loews which merged with Cineplex-Odeon, which is now Loews-Cineplex, which may become AMC-Loews or whatever.
Many of the chains which operated in Chicago are antecedants of today’s Loews-Cineplex. These include Cineplex-Odeon, Essaness, M&R, Plitt, and Sony-Loews. If you stretch, you could even consider Balaban & Katz as an ancestor to today’s Loews-Cineplex. Quite a “family tree”.
As for the mall itself, it was one of the first in the area. Now. most of it is a Carmax Used Cars.
I beleive that this theatre may have been a Plitt. Hillside Square, which was across the Eisenhower Expressway, was an M&R.
This theatre had a sign visible from the Eisenhower Expressway. The sign is still there (or was, the last time I checked). If you look closely, you can still see the auditorium numbers on that sign.
The Zayre was in operation into 1987, which would have been concurrent with the theatre’s operation. It may have been in the same structure as the theatre. I’m not sure if this Zayre was one of those taken over by Ames during that company’s first failed attempt to enter the Chicagoland market.
And per LTS’s comment above, I think that the whole location was eventually taken over by K-Mart (I’m really stretching the old memory here).
Some of the theatres that Essaness opened up immediately prior to their take-over by Plitt (or was it Cineplex-Odeon) include
1) Chestnut Station
2) Forest Park
4) Golf Glen
6) St. Charles
These opened up 1982-1985.
I spoke with a family member who is a retired librarian. In order to get old photos of Essaness Theatres, you should go do the following:
1) Check the list of Essaness Theatres on Cinema Treasures to see where the theatres are/were located.
2) Then go to the historical societies and libraries in the cities that the theatres were listed in. You should go in person and not use the web for these as the people at those places should be able to help you and recommend additional resources.
3) The Sulzer branch of the Chicago Public Library. located at Lincoln Avenue and Montrose, should be able to help you with the Davis Theatre. They maintain an extensive collection of resources on that neighborhood.
4) For the Lake Theatre, contact the Oak Park Public Library and the Oak Park Historical Society.
5) For the theatres that are still extant, (i.e. showing movies or live theatre or concert halls), contact the owners and see if you can take photos inside.
I hope this helps.
I believe that the Lake was also an Essaness. There are abundant photos of that place around the ‘net and in books. You can also get current photos of it yourself.
Photos of some of the theatres you mentioned above can be seen at www.cinematour.com The Davis is still in business, so (assuming you’re from the Chicagoland Area), you can get photos yourself. If you want the Plaza that was across the street from Lincoln Village, that building still stands, although it had been taken over by a K-mart (which I understand is now closed).
Essaness owned WSNS-TV, channel 44 in Chicago.
This theatre was one of a handful opened by Essaness immediately prior to that chain’s being taken over by Plitt/Cineplex Odeon. Some of the others included Forest Park Mall, the Plaza, the Foxfield, and I believe the Chicago Ridge. This is similar to General Cinemas having theatres built immediately prior to takeover by AMC.
Trivia question: Can anyone name the Chicago TV station which was owned by Essaness?
Does anybody know why this theatre closed? It seems like it was successful. What a waste of an almost-new building (though not as wasteful as the huge Loews 20 North Versailles, which closed after only one year).
Also, was this theatre part of a chain, or was it independent?
Thank you Brian, this answers my question. Until the Portage re-opens, the LaGrange may very well be the only one still operating strictly for movies.
Is this the last Balaban & Katz theatre still operating in Chicago?
I beleive that the Davis’s dubious-yet-memorable moment came circa 1978. It was the only theatre in the Chicagoland Area to show CALIGULA—at the then-outrageous price of $7.50. The funny thing about this movie was that the mainstream stars of this movie—Sir John Gielgud, Malcom McDowell, Helen Mirren, and Peter O'Toole—were supposedly unaware that they were doing a glorified porn movie!
Thanks BK and BW for your information. Essaness did get folded into the Plitt chain. I just wish that C-O had kept the original Golf Mill open. The last time I was there was in 2000 to see the director’s cut of the original Excorcist and the theatre was full (the Lincoln Village was sold out so I trekked to Niles).
The Golf Mill was one of my favorite theatres for first run films. Although the Norridge was much closer to my neighborhood, my buddies and I would take the #270 bus to get there from Jefferson Park. Back in the day, we thought that this theatre was an amazing place—we never liked the Norridge. Even as teen-agers in the 1970s, we thought it was a bland place.
I thought that into the 1970s, it was a Plitt. I know that the nearby Golf Glen was an Essaness, one of the last theatres built by that chain.
Now according to the local paper, Keresotas will build a new theatre at Golf Mill. What a waste! Wouldn’t it have been cheaper to renovate the old Golf Mill Theatre? And if Cineplex-Odeon couldn’t make it there, why does Keresotas think it will be successful?