Woods Theatre

54 W. Randolph Street,
Chicago, IL 60601

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Showing 76 - 100 of 101 comments

CHICTH74 on January 2, 2007 at 3:06 am

Can any one explane the diferance between signs,an example the Orential has a vertical sign that says “ORIENTAL” and it also has a sign that is over the sidewalk i know that this is the marquee but what is the name of the sign when it looks like the sign for the woods at the start of this page?I know that the woods had a marquee but what is the proper name of the “square sign” on top of the marquee. Is this concedered a true “Vertical Sign” or not.?
Thank you for your time on the question.

KenC on December 30, 2006 at 3:25 am

My memories of the Woods are few, but all good. In August of 1964, the Woods had the Chicago premiere of “A HARD DAY’S NIGHT”. My friend and I went opening day to the first showing. The place was packed; we had to sit in the balcony near the projection booth. About a week later, I was downtown again and saw a minor demonstration under the marquee of the Woods. Three (maybe four) teenage guys were “protesting” the Beatles, and, I guess the film. They carried signs while walking in a small circle, near the boxoffice. One of the signs read BAN THE BEATLES! another proclaimed RINGO IS A COMMIE! They were smiling and laughing; it all seemed very tongue in cheek. They were NOT preventing people from buying tickets. However, I guess the manager found it not very amusing… a police wagon arrived and took the guys away. Other movies I remember seeing at the Woods: “BLOW UP” “MIDNIGHT COWBOY” and “LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT”. All very controversial at the time,and they all drew HUGE crowds. A nice, clean theatre with a midnight show every night.

DimitriusStrong on December 18, 2006 at 7:38 am

Alot of my memories of early childhood date back to these beautiful theaters. On weekends my mother and I would take the ‘EL’ from Evanston all the way to downtown Chicago, pick up some Garrett’s popcorn and hit the movie theater strip. I now live in Texas and thanks to this website which re-awakened my interest in the subject of these theaters and their history.

CHICTH74 on October 6, 2006 at 1:24 am

In the October edition of Chicago Mag on page 115 their is a great picture of the WOODS theatre showing a lot of detail to the sign.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on October 4, 2006 at 8:35 pm

I had a chance to visit the THSA museum, which is above the York Theatre in Elmhurst, today. If you are ever in the area, it is a place worth checking out. They have a collage of newspaper articles on the Woods Theatre’s (which was the last in the Chicago Loop—until the “Siskel” opened up) closing. Oddly enough, one of the news articles mentions the opening of the new Burnham Plaza Theatre (because Cineplex-Odeon beleived in putting theatres where people lived, etc) and we all know what happened to the Burnham after only 17 years or so!

Broan on June 18, 2006 at 12:11 pm

The Woods was deemed eligible for the National Register of Historic Places before it was destroyed.

“Designed by Marshall and Fox, the Woods Theater (1917) is architecturally significant for its distinctive design and system of gothic-inspired detailing in which foliated friezes, clustered and twisted columns, and arched fenestration unify the 10-story Commercial-style office building and the adjacent low-scale theater structure. Historically, the office and theater facility is significant for its associations with the development of Chicago’s music publishing and performing arts industries in the early 20th century and its contribution to the identity of the Randolph Street area of downtown Chicago as "Tin Pan Alley” in the 1920s."

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on June 10, 2006 at 9:20 pm

Both the Woods and the United Artists are featured in the closing sequence of the film ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING. As this film was made in 1987, it would have been during the last days of the UA (the Woods would hang on for about another two years). The camera pans by the UA too quickly. Even in slow motion, the titles on the marquee can’t be discerned. The Woods, however, was showing DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR and THE KINDRED.

In watching this film (BABYSITTING), it’s amazing to see how much of Downtown Chicago has changed for the better since then!

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.