Woods Theater

54 W. Randolph Street,
Chicago, IL 60601

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Showing 76 - 94 of 94 comments

daimon9 on June 10, 2006 at 4:11 pm

I know his comment is 5 years old but I have to respond. The Wood’s Theater was not demolished in the early 1980s. It was closed in the late 1980s.

CHICTH74 on February 11, 2006 at 10:45 pm

If you watch the movie “Ferris Buellers day off" right around the "paraide" sceen if you have the dvd it should be around th 1:01:41 ? mark on the counter pay attention to the part whear the police man pushes Sloane and Cameron off of the route during ferris rendetion of duk a sheen you can see clear as the day is long the marquees of the Woods and The U.A , the UA is the one on the right of the screen an d the Woods is on the left of the screen. This works great if you have it on dvd.This movie was flimed in 1986 just at the hight of the Go Go 80`s i think shortly after this was flimes bouth of the theatres were torne down. The sight of the Woods is now part of the Goodman Theatre Complex and where the UA was is now an empty lot. The way it was explaned to me was the deal that was to buld a new bulding on the sight of the UA fell out of favor after the place was leveled,i think that thay ran out of mony or something or the bulding boom just went flat.

Broan on February 9, 2006 at 5:01 pm

Here is an article on the occasion of the Woods' closing.

veyoung52 on February 8, 2006 at 10:10 am

I bet that theatre must’ve really “rocked” when “Psycho” opened there in 1960.

barryr on February 8, 2006 at 4:57 am

I remember my dad taking me to see the James Bond film “Diamonds Are Forever” at the Woods when I was about 12. It was a cinematic rite of passage that led to my being a lifelong Bond fan. The cool thing I remember was how the theater would immerse you in the moviegoing experience, from playing John Barry’s score between showings to featuring wallpaper in the washroom entrance with silhouettes of what my 12-year-old eyes absolutely swore were nude women—a visual staple of every Bond film’s opening credits. (Can anyone substantiate that last memory? Customized wallpaper seems like an odd way to promote a movie…but they used to do stranger things to market films back then.) We subsequently saw the first-runs of “Live and Let Die” and “Man With The Golden Gun” there. And I vividly remember going there to see a double feature of “Thunderball” and “You Only Live Twice,” which United Artists re-released to capitalize on the success of “Diamonds.” I know we saw other films there as well—Clint Eastwood’s “The Gauntlet” springs to mind—but it’s the initial viewing of those Bond films that have stuck with me.

RobertR on August 25, 2005 at 1:54 pm

What great ad copy on that old marquee shot for the “Big Doll House” LOL

bruceanthony on June 4, 2005 at 4:48 am

The Oriental and the Palace were restored due to the demand for theatres of this size for touring broadway musicals.brucec

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on May 19, 2005 at 5:16 am

I remember walking by the Woods when that last movie was on the marquee, on my way to Marshall Fields one day. What you fail to mention is that it was a double feature with, “I’m Gonna Get You Sucka”. While I am a fan of the Wayans Family, I suspect that could be called a fall from grace. I find it interesting that the relatively small Woods and United Artists Theaters were demolished, while the significantly larger Oriental and Palace Theaters were refurbished. I am grateful that the later two are still around, but I often wonder if the former wouldn’t have been more viable. The Woods even seemed to still have a working stage at the time it closed. One more thing…it passed to Cineplex from Plitt. I believe the entire Plitt chain passed to Cineplex.

PGlenat on February 10, 2005 at 1:15 am

Now that’s a blast from the past. On my very first trip to Chicago I arrived at that bus terminal and took the long escalator ride up from below street level. The first Chicago streetscape that I encountered was of that strip of Randolph St. It was even more spectacular since it was at night and I was dazzled by all the lights. (OK, so I was an impressionable teen). I can’t recall if my uncle had parked his car in the garage next to the terminal or not, but for some reason the Woods marquee still sticks in my mind even now.

paulench on January 13, 2005 at 3:31 pm

I remember seeing “The Bubble” at the Woods in 1966. Although the plot was weak and the acting horrible, I was impressed by the 3-D effects. It would start me on my lifelong hobby as a 3-D photographer and filmgoer.

veyoung52 on November 28, 2004 at 6:04 am

Some Woods Trivia. In the Spring of 1957, the Essaness chain proudly announced to the world that the Woods Theatre “grosses more per seat than any other film house in the world.” Always excepting Radio City Music Hall and the Roxy in Manhattan, this statement might hold some water. For one thing, beginning during the war years, the Woods began a policy of being open 22 hours a day, closing only for cleaning. This was to attract service men and women and shift workers who wanted entertainment in the wee hours of the morning. In the March 20, 1957 statement Essaness pointed to the example of Paramount’s “High Society” raking in nearly $60,000 in its first week at the 1,206-seat house with a $1.50 top. Another reason given by the chain is that the house steadfastly refuses to stick to advertising material given it by the distributors. Citing “The Moon Is Blue” and “Man With The Golden Arm,” the chain’s executive praised his chain’s “unique and independent policies in respect to programming and advertising.” Continuing, he said, “…whole selling program has developed with the Essaness policy of training its advertising staff from the lower echelons of assistant managers and ushers….Moreover…a theatre must have a personality of its own to sell, especially in the video age.” Sage words even today, methinks.
Also out of the trivia box. In 1960, the Woods was one of Paramount’s biggest grossers for Hitchcock’s “Psycho” which broke all attendance and boxoffice records at the time.
Widescreen/Techno trivia: December 21, 1966 saw the world premiere here of Arch Obeler’s (he introduced “Bwana Devil” in 3D in 1953) “The Bubble” in what was called “Space Vision 3-d”!

Broan on October 22, 2004 at 5:56 am

Here is a view down Dearborn towards Randolph with the Woods visible (as well as the Daley Center, entrance to the Dearborn Subway, and Marina Towers… phew! That’s a lot of Chicago in one photo!
And this is that same view now.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on August 20, 2004 at 9:48 pm

There is an apocryphal story that Plitt (which operated the competing United Artists theater just across from the Woods) purposefully booked a film into the “U.A” just because the name of the film was “Don’t Go Into The Woods.”

I’d love to know if this is true.

JohnSanchez on February 12, 2004 at 10:30 pm

The Woods was the home for “guy flicks”. Action films and karate films seemed to always be there. It was home to the Chicago premieres of the James Bond films starting with “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, “Diamonds are Forever”, “Live and Let Die”, “The Man with the Golden Gun”, “The Spy Who Loved Me” and “Moonraker”. “Diamonds are Forever” set house records that were never broken. Other premieres there included “Cool Hand Luke”, “Willard”, “Carrie”, and “Silver Streak”. As with the other palaces the Woods fell into disrepair in the 80’s as business dropped off. The theater did last until 1989 and was the last of the great Loop palaces to close.

bruceanthony on October 31, 2003 at 7:24 pm

I love the marquee of the Woods and the United Artists theatres in Chicago. Would love to see pictures of Randolph St in the late 50’s and early 60’s of the marquees on the street at that time. brucec

GuyCesario on October 30, 2003 at 7:06 pm

In the early 1960’s The Woods was owned and operated by Essaness Theaters Corp., and their coporate office was in the building. I was surprised not to see it listed on the Essaness list.

MarianneMatthews on October 3, 2001 at 3:07 pm

The Woods theatre was located in the Woods building which was built in 1917. The theatre,located at 50-56 W. Randolph Street, was demolished in 1989. Immediately after demolition the site was used for parking. The Woods was one of many great theatres that were located on Randolph Street…the United Artists, the Garrick, the Oriental, the Palace. Fortunately the Oriental and the Palace have been restored and are Performing Arts Centers.

Menutia on September 10, 2001 at 6:57 pm

The Woods Gave way to open land, which has now been claimed by the South end of the New Goodman Theatre Complex.

MarkGulbrandsen on August 24, 2001 at 3:48 pm

The Woods is definitely gone. I remember it being demolished when I worked in downtown Chicago back in the early 80’s. Last time I was in Chicago you could still see the outline of the balcony on the wall of the building next door. I guess they left that wall intact as taking it down would have probably endangered that building.