Michael Todd Theatre

180-190 N. Dearborn Street,
Chicago, IL 60601

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Showing 1 - 25 of 71 comments

Coate on March 28, 2015 at 5:55 pm

JRS40… Forty weeks for “Ben-Hur”? Maybe I have a wrong opening or closing date or did the math incorrectly, but I have a much longer duration than 40 weeks for the Michael Todd roadshow run of “Ben-Hur.”

JRS40 on March 17, 2015 at 5:23 pm

I have a record of all bookings of the Todd (when it became the Michael Todd)from 1958 until it’s closing in 1977. No movie came close to playing there as long as “The Sound of Music.” I would have to check my records to confirm but I am guessing “Ben-Hur” would be the next closest. It played for 40 weeks.

To answer the question posed by Bobby S above – “Around the World in 80 Days” played at the Cinestage from 4/4/57 to 12/25/58.

Coate on March 17, 2015 at 4:54 pm

“The Sound of Music” premiered at the Michael Todd 50 years ago today. With a reserved-seat run of 93 weeks, do you think it is the long-run record holder for this venue?

Also, on a related note, I would like to mention my new 50th anniversary retrospective for “The Sound of Music” can be read here.

RiisPark on March 12, 2013 at 9:50 pm

Saw “Star” in 1968 and “Exodus” around 1963. Both movies were reserved seating.

JudithK on March 3, 2013 at 1:45 pm

I saw “Around the World in 80 Days” at the Beverly Theatre in Peoria, IL, so I cannot answer BobbyS' question. When I saw “Star!” at the Michael Todd Theatre it was shown on a very wide, crystal-clear, flat screen. If anyone out there has seen the film I believe the beginning of the film was supposed to be a representation of a show curtain in a theatre.

BobbyS on March 3, 2013 at 4:54 am

So did “Around the World” play the Michael Todd theater or his Cinestage? I thought it played the Michael Todd with the waterfall curtain. Was it the same size of todays IMAX screens?

Jon Lidolt
Jon Lidolt on February 16, 2013 at 11:11 pm

When I saw Ben-Hur in 70mm projection at the Michael Todd in 1960 the curtains opened horizontally to reveal a very wide flat screen. Meanwhile, Exodus at the Cinestage was shown on a slightly curved standard screen. The Cinerama strip screen was installed a few years later.

JudithK on February 16, 2013 at 8:51 pm

I saw the wide-screen re-release of “Gone With the Wind” at the McVickers on Madison Street in Chicago. The same thing happened in that theatre when Mr. Gable got his first close-up.

dtrigubetz on January 31, 2012 at 10:54 pm

In 1967-68 I saw the re-release of “Gone With the Wind” here. I sat in the balcony and the large audience gave Clark Gable a rousing applause upon his first screen entrance. I live in L A now and would be happy to give visitors a tour of our miraculously remaining single screens:

JudithK on December 16, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Thanks, Broan! I had not seen the article, nor do I remember the interior extrance of the Michael Todd Theatre looking like this.

Broan on December 16, 2011 at 2:33 pm

http://arcchicago.blogspot.com/2011/12/door-to-heart-bertrand-goldberg.html Here are a couple photos showing Bertrand Goldberg’s remodeling.

JudithK on August 7, 2011 at 12:09 am

Thanks! I’ve never seen what the theatre’s interior looked like originally. As in my earlier comment, it was impossible to determine what the interior looked like due to all of those curtains that ensured that wonderful sound quality. The acoustics must have been pretty good in the Harris era, too.

Broan on August 6, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Here is an interior view.

JudithK on May 16, 2010 at 1:21 am

The one and only time that I was in the Michael Todd Theatre was seeing “Star!” with my parents and a couple of other people on Christmas Day, 1968 (I believe). (The reviews must have come in!) It was not a terribly large theatre; it was kind of like the old Civic Theatre which was connected to Lyric Opera’s building in Chicago which was converted to production space several years ago. The sound and projection were incredible (despite the many flaws of the film). It was impossible to determine what the theatre had looked like before it became a movie theatre due to the curtains which assisted all that lovely sound. And, of course, there was the usual popcorn machine in the lobby stinking up everything. I was out of the area at college from 1971-1975, and when I started working in Chicago I was amazed at the bookings as the road-show era of films had died.

JAlex on May 6, 2010 at 12:08 am

For what it’s worth department: When the complex was first announced in 1920, the names of the theatres were to be the Selwyn and the CHICAGO. The eventual CHICAGO Theatre also went through various planning name changes…the Capitol, to the Ambassador, to, finally, the Chicago.

JRS40 on May 3, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Timoneill – you are quite correct. I guess I was more referring to when there was still some hope for movie palaces in the city. By the time the Dearborn was opened all of the other palaces were gone save for the Woods and United Artists and those two plus the twin all closed within a year of each other.

William on April 30, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Don’t forget the projectionist union’s contract on staffing Chicago theatres. It would cost you alot more to operate those extra screens with the extra projectionists you had to hire.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on April 30, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Oh, contraire………… The Michael Todd WAS twinned in 1986. Here’s what happened: M&R Theatres took over the Michael Todd in 1985 after it was closed for 6 years. They also wanted to take over the next-door Cinestage Theatre, but the owners of that porno palace put up a short fight. Eventually, M&R got both theatres and changed the name to Dearborn Cinemas. The plan was to twin both theatres. M&R did manage to twin the Michael Todd; however, they never got around to the Cinestage. The Cinestage side of the Dearborn Cinemas was occasionally opened, but the Michael Todd twinned side remained open until 1988. The M&R Dearborn Cinemas was a complete failure.

telliott on April 30, 2010 at 7:10 pm

Thanks JRS40, that makes sense. Always wondered why Chicago never did when so many cities even New York had divided downtown palaces in to multiples. Here in Toronto, the former Loew’s Uptown was divided in to 5, the Imperial was divided in to 6 and several others in to twins.

JRS40 on April 30, 2010 at 6:04 pm

There was talk at one time or another in the 70’s and 80’s of dividing the Chicago, the State Lake or the Oriental. Whenever this was brought up it seemed to be at a time when that particular theater was having financial woes. It was decided, though, that dividing a palace into a multiplex was basically turning one losing theater into several. It also didn’t help that ticket prices were higher in the city plus they had to pay for parking. It would have been a losing proposition all around.

telliott on April 20, 2010 at 10:38 pm

It’s also quite amazing that not ONE of the downtown Loop movie palaces were ever divided up in to multiple cinemas like they were almost everywhere. They all were intact and the same single screen theatres when they subsequently closed. That’s quite extraordinary.

telliott on April 20, 2010 at 10:29 pm

Considering what the Goodman has become, too bad they had to demolish the Woods, Michael Todd and Cinestage. They could have just combined them somehow and now THEY would be the Goodman Theatre. Sort of like Playhouse Square in Cleveland, with the old original theatres in place.

TLSLOEWS on April 20, 2010 at 9:57 pm

NIce slideshow from DarkRefrain!!!

chapcan on April 20, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in 1968, 3rd grade field trip from Hillcrest School in Hoffman Estates, IL. Nestle crunch bar with Laurie and her mother and I still have the program!