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This photo of the Midway Drive-In was taken prior to the August 2007 screen tower restoration. For what the Midway Drive-In screen tower looks like today, check out this current photo here;
Answers for a few of the questions below;
The person who would speak to Wally Philips on WGN Radio 720 AM was the Golf Mill manager Bene Stein, who also booked the films and had quite a bit of clout in the industry. Bene Stein was an “Old school” manager, when a theater manager had respect and power in the industry.
Esseness Theaters became involved with Golf Mill and the Finks in May of 1981. The Finks (the owners of the Golf Mill and F & F Management) signed a five year agreement with Esseness and were basically partners with Esseness on the Golf Mill and Golf Glen Theaters. I believe the Finks Morton Grove Theater was not included in this agreement.
Bene Stein and F & F Management still ran the Golf Mill theater from 1981-1986, but the relations between F & F and Esseness was often rocky. Esseness was a very budget oriented company and the Golf Mill as run by Bene Stein was more oriented to showmanship on a grand scale.
F & F gave into some of Esseness’s suggestions for cost cutting measures; such as remodeling the lobby to allow for a larger concession stand (in the fall of 1981) which faced the customers as they entered. Prior to this, the concession stand divided theaters 1 & 2 and made cross-overs between the theaters nearly impossible.
Another Esseness suggestion was to to eliminate the dedicated cashier and concession staff in #3 during non-peak business. They would sell the tickets at the box in #1 & 2 and have the #3 customers walk through the lobby to #3 past #1 (which made crossing over very easy).
Another cost cutting measure Esseness suggested was the elimination of the Brinks cash pick-up service. The Finks allowed that cut, so the managers took the cash to the bank every night then.
When the five year agreement was up in May of 1986, the Finks allowed the Golf Mill and the Golf Glen to be included in the Esseness sale to Cineplex-Odeon. Their Morton Grove Theater remained with Morton Fink’s son, Bobbie Fink, who later started up Value Theaters.
“CHILLERAMA” premiere at the Midway Drive-In located in Dixon, Illinois. “CHILLERAMA” is a new anthology horror film which takes place at a Drive-In.
In person were directors Tim Sullivan (director of “I WAS A TEENAGE WERE-BEAR”), Adam Rifkin (director “WADZILLA”) and star Anton Troy (star “I WAS A TEENAGE WERE-BEAR”). Visit www.themidwaydrivein.net for show times.
Thanks Norman! I’ve seen some of your other photos. You’ve done an amazing job documenting classic theaters!
Below is the updated info for the Midway Drive-In
The Midway Drive-In opened in August 1950.
The Midway currently plays double features of First-Run films.
91 Palmyra Road
Dixon, IL 61021
Phone (847) 647-3124
Car capacity – 500 cars
Operated by – Kerz Productions, Inc. since August 2007
Thank you lostmemory for posting that updated photo of the Midway Drive-In screen tower! My wife and I purchased the Midway in 2007 and have completely restored the Midway (including the screen tower).