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Southlake Cinema closed its doors after evening showings on Sunday the 15th of this month. Other then a small mention in the paper and the marquee, which this last weekend read: Thanks for 27 Great Years, there was little fanfare. Back in the early 80’s Southlake was GCC’s highest grossing theater in the country. Having worked there for 4 years I saw many a movie there including “Superman”, “An Officer and A Gentleman”, “Ghost Story”, “The Shining”, “1941”, “Porky’s”, “Blue Thunder”, “Ghostbusters”, “The Thing” and the list goes on and on. Apparently the cinema is going to be torn down as Kerasotes is building a new mulitplex down the road withing the property of the mall (now known as Westfield). At least two restaurants will be built on the site of the former theater with an indoor walkway connected to the new theaters.
The Dunes was in a rougher area then the other two GCC twins (Ridge Plaza and Crossroads) so this was the place where the action films, blaxploitation films and horror films usually ended up. The Dunes also played first run films and Disney to appeal to everyone but the theatre was sort of branded with the rough image. It was unusual for a film to play more then a week or two and there was almost always a film change on one of its screens weekly. The theatres themselves were nothing special but not bad. I didn’t go there often as usually the films they played were playing at one of the other two theatres which were closer to home for me when I was growing up. Some of the films I saw there included: “The Man with the Golden Gun”, “Lepke”, “The Car”, “The Domino Principle”, “The Cat From Outer Space”, “Gus”, “The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training”, “Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo”, “When A Stranger Calls”, “Brass Target”, “The Black Hole”, “Crossed Swords”, “Family Plot” and “Night of the Juggler”.
The Crossroads was one of 3 area twins (the others being Ridge Plaza and Dunes Plaza) GCC opened in Northwest Indiana. Crossroads was home to many of my moviegoing experiences when I was growing up including: “Executive Action”, “The Seven Ups”, “The Four Musketeers”, “Lenny”, “The Reincarnation of Peter Proud”, “Airport 1975”, “The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3”, “Murder By Death”, “Oh God”, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and the list goes on and on. It was a nice place to visit and I hear the place has been done up some and looks pretty good these days. Sadly it is the only one of the 3 original theatres still left as the Ridge has been demolished and the Dunes sits in decaying ruins.
From the 70’s to the early 90’s the Calumet was a porno house. Then the theatre closed briefly and re-opened as a second run house. I can remember driving by there when “Toy Story” opened and was shocked to see a line waiting to get in. Sometime in 1999 the theatre was closed to remodel and has never opened again. It looked ready to open in 2001 when the theatre had posters for “Along Came A Spider” and the marquee announced the reopening date. When that day came the theatre was still closed and a sign was on the door from the health department which obviously found the theatre with code violations. For a long time the marquee (after 9/11) read: Please God Bless the USA. Then in 2003 the marquee was changed to: REOPENING SOON. Since early 2005 the marquee has read: FOR SALE but I doubt there is much interest. The theatre is located in a bad part of town plus there is little parking availability in the area which means customers would have to walk a few blocks. I’d love to see the inside of the theatre (the lobby looks cluttered with stuff) to see how the auditorium looks but doubt I will get the chance. The Calumet’s day has come and gone.
The Gateway was home to two of the biggest films of the 70’s in its original release. On Christmas Day, 1973, the Gateway was one of two theatres (the other being the UA Cinema Oakbrook) to open “The Exorcist”. On June 20, 1975 the Gateway was one of five theatres (the other four being the United Artists, Ford City, Yorktown and Golf Mill) to open “Jaws”. Both films ran at the Gateway for months.
Loews opened the Merrillville 10 in the summer of 1992. It became the first theatre in the area to give direct competition to General Cinema’s (now AMC) Southlake Cinema located directly across US 30. At first the theatre was nice and clean but as with what seems to be the case with Loews theatres the theatre became rundown within a few years and Loews appeared to stop caring about putting any money into the place. One Saturday visit I had a few years back was one of the worst theatre visits I ever had. For some reason only one concession person was on duty that afternoon so the wait to get popcorn was ridiculously long. I finally gave up after 20 minutes as my movie was starting. A short while later I went out again and the line was no shorter. Also, the crowd was loud and belligerent and never once did an usher make an appearance in the auditorium even after complaints. The marquee, which sits on US 30 for thousands to see on a daily basis, either always has letters missing from the titles or are mis-spelled. Just a month or so back Kerasotes bought it from Loews so perhaps they will clean the place up and make it suitable for attendance again.
As I predicted above the Dunes Cinema has closed almost thirty years to the day after it opened. Too bad since it played a major role in my life. I imagine given the size of the building it will be converted into yet another superstore.
Due to rapid money loss the theaters closed on May 19, 1977 despite UA having a lease until 1980. The final features on two of its screens were “Young Frankenstein” and “Rocky”. As listed above the third screen had closed in February of 1977 due to the high demand of the union projectionists contract calling for one projectionist per screen. The Marina Towers is well known for its odd circular structure and is most famous in the world of movies for being the site of the concluding chase in Steve Mc Queen’s last film “The Hunter” in which a car actually was driven off one of the towers into the Chicago River.
The Ridge Road Drive In closed in October of 1977. Its final triple feature the week of 10/14 was “The Outlaw Josey Wales” plus “Joshua” plus “A Touch of Satin”.
A drive by the Marquette confirmed that the theater is closed. I took a look through the front windows and everything appears to be intact. Hopefully some movie lover will come in and perhaps turn it into an art house theater or something before it get demolished. It’s a beautiful building that should be spared. Chances are it will end up being gutted and made into another electronics store or a fitness center.
The Dunes Cinema is now a second run house with an early evening showing on weeknights and one matinee and one early evening show on the weekends. Also, the beautiful marquee that had been built is now gone. The sidewalk to the left and right of the entrance has weeds growing up through the sidewalks as well. It would appear Kerasotes is slowly giving up on this theater and it will close sooner rather then later.