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Back in the 70’s River Oaks was an outdoor mall such as Oakbrook still is. You only went inside if it was in one of the stores. I truly don’t recall an ice cream shop in the mall but I think seeing the word INTERMISSION on the menu board tilts it towards being a drive-in.
Actually when you look at it closer I don’t know that it is River Oaks at all. I don’t ever remember them serving cones and shakes. RO was a classy operation and I think they wouldn’t have allowed that in their theaters. Plus the concession board says INTERMISSION which makes it sound like a drive-in. The whole front counter was glass for candy and there doesn’t appear to be any glass there. I don’t think this is RO after all. Someone either mis-identified or was just guessing.
Yeah it’s too hard to tell but it must be. If I remember correctly the stand at 2-3 was one big area sharing both theaters but, again, from that angle who knows? But it had to be one of those two buildings.
I remember seeing “Sense and Sensibility” there and seeing a mouse scurry back and forth across the aisle the whole movie. That was a first (and last) and surprised me seeing that the theaters hadn’t been around that long – maybe 5 years.
I took a tour of the Chicago and it was revealed there is no projection equipment left in the building and on the rare occasions that they do show a movie (such as the opening of the Chicago Film Fest) they rent the equipment.
As an occasional visitor to the Music Box I would say that’s not a bad idea. It would add some ambiance to an already beautiful theater. Keep me updated. I am eager to see you pull this off.
You’re quite welcome OeOeO. Back in the 60’s and 70’s when I was young I kept a notebook and would note each Friday what was playing at the downtown palaces. A few years ago I happen to come across them again and since I knew of this website I thought I would share hoping others were interested in what these great theaters played and when. If you check out many of the other palaces in Chicago you will see their bookings as well.
So there was a small gap of maybe a year where all 14 screens were up and running. My apologies Audio – I simply can’t remember that. “Batman” opened in June of 1989 so chances are it was still around that time when it played on all 4 screens. I can’t imagine it was later then July due to a load of summer movies that year. I can remember that being the busiest year for summer movies I ever saw as a manager. Besides “Batman” there was “Indiana Jones,” “Ghostbusters 2,” “Weekend At Bernies,” “Field of Dreams,” “When Harry Met Sally,” “Parenthood,” “Roadhouse” “Dead Poet’s Society” and others.
The reason for the Diana naming is as good as any. Yes I remember the long walk from the box office to the theaters and concession. It wasn’t a bad place to see a movie in the 80’s and sometimes they played movies that GCC in NW Indiana or River Oaks didn’t play. It was always busy on weekends and I was shocked when they went to a second run discount house. I also remember that right next door was a big arcade which we always hit before and after the movie.
Audio – According to the River Oaks 1-6 page the renumbering wasn’t done until after 2-3 closed so maybe that is why I don’t remember it being known as 13-14. But since my memory is a bit suspect I won’t disagree further.
On a different note I would love to go over to the Diana page and hear some stories as I frequented that theater in the 80’s as well. If you can find out I would love to know how the theater got its name.
Yeah I think you are right about the sign, which is still there by the way but it still seems to me 2-3, which may have been slated to be number changed, closed before 1-6 opened thus negating the chance to re-number it.
Cinemark – You seem to have good research on this. Was there ever a time all 14 screens were open at the same time? I seem to remember being told 2-3 closed for two reasons: One the lease had expired and it was too costly and two, because a new group (1-6 obviously) of screens were being constructed.
2-3 closed in 1989 so I don’t think they were part of the re-numbering. The last film I saw there was “Breaking In” with Burt Reynolds. A few weeks later it closed. I don’t believe 1-6 opened until 90 or 91.
Funny you mention it Cinemark but I can remember in the 70’s eagerly waiting to see the movies that would be playing at 1-2-3 because often times they would play movies that didn’t open in NW Indiana. “Chinatown,” “The Godfather Part II,” “The Drowning Pool,” “Day of the Locust,” “Airport 1975,” “The Ritz,” “Star Wars,” “Revenge of the Pink Panther,” “The Bad News Bears Go To Japan,” “Alien,” “The Fury,” “Barry Lyndon,” “Network,” “Logan’s Run,” “Return of a Man Called Horse” and “The Sting” are just some of the movies we ventured to Calumet City to see. And sometimes even if a movie was in NW Indiana we would go to River Oaks if it was in #1. I know we did that for “King Kong,” “Close Encounters,” “Magic,” and “Superman” just off the top of my head. Not to mention the “Star Wars” sequels and the “Indiana Jones” films (the first two anyway).
Funny but every time I visited the curtain remained open. Maybe it is selective memory on my part. Yeah the flood lights, which were the lights the janitors used when they cleaned the house after closing, were a great annoyance. Last time I was there was for “King Kong” and you couldn’t read the credits at all. I can remember back in the 70’s (and it may have been like this for you in the 90’s) that when you walked in only the sidelights and curtain lights were on and they weren’t overly bright so it was hard to see the seats. But it added a bit more ambiance to the place.
I love the 70MM idea. Maybe you could do like the Music Box and run some weekend morning classics and midnight movies for the younger crowd. There’s so many things you could do. There is a plethora of ideas and movie lovers who would welcome it all.
Cinemark, I, too, would vote for traditional seating if only in 1 and 4 (or 9-10) because I am a traditionalist naturally. But at this point whatever it takes to get them open and as clean and beautiful as I remember them. One thing I know was an issue on the big screen was that back in the late 80’s the curtain machine broke and they never bothered to fix it so the curtains remained open from then on. I would love to see that fixed and get that big, beautiful curtain to open and close per each show. Incidentally, I used to work in management in General Cinema in NW Indiana for many years so if you ever get that big screen open I would be happy to come work for you (if the price is right of course..hehehe) if you need management.
Yes Office Depot and not Circuit City. My mistake. Cinemark it was great moviegoing in the 70’s and early 80’s. Sorry you missed out.
No the pic is of 7-8 and was always 7-8. The original 5-6 were River Oaks West. I saw TRON out at 5-6 and I remember because the film was sold out and a group of us went down the parking lot and played touch football for two hours until the movie started. 7-8 opened in 1984.
To answer your other questions – 2 & 3 is CIRCUIT CITY now. The building was not demolished but shelled and painted. 5-6 is empty or at least it was the last time I was by there. I can remember just a week after it closed I went by there and was able to walk in to the area and it was completely empty. 7-8 still has the marquee up so I imagine there is nothing in there now.
The first movie I ever saw in 7-8 was a sneak preview of “Starman.” Now of course it was sneaking in NW Indiana but I HAD to get a look at the new theaters and my dad was a good enough sport to go with me. It was a nice but not spectacular theater plus the movie was terrific. I did see many a movie there too.
Cinemark I am only going by memory here. 7-8 were the ones on the same side as 1-2 right? The ones attached to the mall itself? If I remember they were smaller then 2-3 and 5-6. I would guess they seated around 400 each but don’t hold me to it.
David – If you look at my booking lists for most of the palace theaters downtown you will notice it was quite rare for a movie to play too long from the late 70s until my list ends. The palaces were too expensive (at least more expensive then the suburbs), you had to pay to park and there was an inherent fear of crime – especially at night. That’s why it really sucks that many of these theaters are gone now and those that survive are either badly in need of extensive repair or don’t show movies anymore. But I guess I shouldn’t complain as long as they survive. This beautiful theater has no signs it ever existed – and that is the saddest thing of all.
Screens 2 and 3 closed in 1989 and not 1996 as posted above. I went to see “Breaking In” with Burt Reynolds there and a week later the place was closed. I was stunned. They were beautiful theaters though smaller then #1 and #4.
Thinking back to when I was a kid and when #10 showed “event” movies with the widescreen and the big sound I would have put Quantum of Solace in there for sure. Of the Christmas films that only one that really stands out as a #1 (10) screen movie is THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL. But, again, my mind is back in the 1970’s.
FYI – The Sayles film you are referring to is “Lone Star,” a terrific film. I saw it there as well.
Yes the Hoosier is still running movies and usually first run movies at that.
No the Siskel Film Center is just South of the old State Lake.
There is a restaurant right on the corner at Dearborn and Randolph where the Woods was. Perhaps the Goodman has part of where the Woods was but further North. Are you sure the Goodman doesn’t sit where the Todd and Cinestage were? I haven’t been inside the Goodman so I don’t know how far North it stretches.