Landmark's Century Centre Cinema

2828 N. Clark Street,
Chicago, IL 60657

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Century Theatre, Chicago, IL - Century Centre Cinema (interior)

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Century opened as the Diversey Theater in 1924 at the busy intersection of Clark and Diversey Streets in Lakeview, designed in Spanish Baroque style by architect Edward Eichenbaum of the firm of Levy & Klein, whose work also included the Granada in Rogers Park and the Marbro in Garfield Park. The theater was remodeled in the Art Deco style in the early 1930s, when it was renamed the Century, in honor of the Century of Progress World’s Fair that was held in Chicago during 1933 and 1934.

In 1973, the Century was closed, the interior was completely gutted, and the theater was rebuilt as the Century Shopping Centre, a multi-level shopping mall.

In 2000, the struggling mall gave its uppermost levels over, ironically, to a new seven-screen art house cinema, operated by the Landmark Theatres chain. The small auditoriums were decorated in a neo-Art Deco style, and the ornate Baroque terra-cotta facade was cleaned and restored and given new signage.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 40 comments)

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on September 14, 2012 at 12:46 pm

It’s official. Century Centre will go digital beginning next Friday, September 21.

CinemarkFan
CinemarkFan on September 14, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Well, an all-digital theater was inevitable, but it’s a shame that Landmark didn’t consider that Chicago wouldn’t be getting a first run 70mm print of “The Master”. Traveling to Seattle or LA to see it remains out of the question for me, unless it rains money from the sky. So, I’ll settle for the digital print for now.

There’s always January at the Music Box, and April at Ebertfest.

CinemarkFan
CinemarkFan on September 14, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Oh and Tim, I gotta share this with you.

Below is what I wrote to Landmark

[quote]Dear management of Landmark Theatres,

This is in regards to “The Master”, opening at the Century Centre on September 21st. As you may know, Chicago isn’t getting a 70mm print because the only theater here that can run 70mm (the Music Box), couldn’t book it due to scheduling issues. So now we have to settle for 35mm or digital prints here.

But I’ve read a rumor that states that a DP70 will be installed at the Landmark 12 in Los Angeles. I got that from here: http://www.in70mm.com/library/rumour/index.htm

So my question to you, if this info is true, is why that theater? Why are you not installing a DP70 projector in the Century Centre’s auditorium #7? Why install a projector in the West LA location when the Cinerama Dome 15-20 minutes away will be playing it in 70mm?

A demand for a Chicago 70mm engagement is very, very high. When the Music Box had a one-time only presentation in that format two weeks ago, tickets sold out within minutes, which is the reason why I missed out.

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-08-17/entertainment/ct-mov-0817-talking-pictures-20120817_1_film-foundation-festival-program-notes-music-box

Now maybe the Landmark 12 rumor isn’t true, but if it is, please install a 70mm projector for the Century Centre. Chicago is supposed to be the second city, yet we can’t see the movie the way PT Anderson intended. It is unfair.

Please consider us Chicagoians.[/quote]

Their reply…

[quote]As you might know… studios are stopping producing films in 35mm – actually they are stopping production in film .. they are all going to produce in digital.. so all theatres will need to install digital projectors within the next 18 months in order to get 99% of the films that will be available. Landmark is not installing anything but digital projectors.

Customer Service.[/quote]

Landmark – Los Angeles

Thank you.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on September 14, 2012 at 5:08 pm

This is hardly surprising; looking at it from Landmark’s POV; it is just not an investment they would be willing to make. There is much excitement over the “The Master” right right now, but there’s no evidence that there are any significant numbers of new 70mm films in the offing, which would mean that installing a 70mm film projector would probably mean it would just sit there until a revival of a 70mm film came along. There may also have been concerns about whether the booths at the Century could accommodate the machine.

From a practical standpoint, 70mm projectors are not that easy to come by as they are not currently being manufactured. The one that is being installed at the Village East in NYC required a search for parts. I suspect that the additional one installed in Auditorium #3 at the Hollywood Arclight is a DP 70 or 75 or a Century JJ pulled out of mothballs somewhere in LA, possibly out of the Pacific Theaters warehouse.

CinemarkFan
CinemarkFan on September 14, 2012 at 6:39 pm

You are right CSWalczak. But a city like Chicago, could benefit from running 70mm revival screening. The projector at the Music Box, more often than not, just sits there. Or a theater like the Seattle Cinerama, which screens new releases in 4k. But they’ve kept their 70mm and of course, Cinerama projectors.

The Alamo Ritz in Austin, a digital theater, installed a 70mm projector not just for “The Master”, but for revival screenings of 70mm. Several of which started a few weeks ago, and will continue with “Cleopatra” and “Playtime”, after the run of “The Master” is over.

Iain Softley, director of “K-PAX” and “Wings of the Dove”, plans to shoot his next movie called “Ivanhoe”, in 65mm. So even with theaters becoming all digital, it doesn’t end with “The Master”.

When you read stuff like this, it makes the Chicago situation even more disheartening, seeing that we’re supposed to be the third largest city in the nation. But like you said, things are made from a business standpoint, and this brings me to my declaration…

When my chain finally gets off the ground, this will never be a problem again. Digital projection? Of course. 70mm revival screenings? I’ll be ready. director shoots in 70mm and selected prints will be made for major cities? I’ll be ready.

CinemarkFan
CinemarkFan on September 14, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Also, I didn’t think about the booth problem. It very well could be small.

I hear the Music Box will screen it again in 70mm in January. And that’s okay, but the screen is so small that it really doesn’t do 70mm justice. Do they even have a proper cinemascope screen?

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on September 15, 2012 at 12:35 am

I basically agree Cinemark fan; however, I think certain theaters – such as the Dome, the Seattle Cinerama, the Music Box, the Castro, the AFI Silver, and some others basically serve their cities in some respects as a film historical center, something akin to the Pictureville Cinema in Bradford, England and need to have these multiple projection capabilities on an ongoing basis because of the nature of their programming.

I admit that the Austin situation might appear to show that new 70mm installations would work, but I would speculate that the new installation there is largely due to the fact that this growing chain is run by an film enthusiast with a special love for Austin, has a fairly distinctive business model, a film production arm, and other characteristics far away from from a chain like AMC or even Landmark; that particular situation situation may not be all that typical or comparable. (I think it unlikely that the other franchises that are a part of the Drafthouse group will follow suit in installing 70mm). In addition, Austin has benefited from 70mm showings at their still 70mm-equipped Paramount over the years, so most likely there is an appreciation for the format there perhaps somewhat out of proportion to the city’s size.

That I said, I certainly agree that Chicago ought to have, shall I say, a mainstream commercial venue with a large (hopefully curved) screen where, when something like this situation involving “The Master” arises, can quickly be convert to a premiere 70mm venue. In some ways, the Music Box does or could serve the role, but at least in this instance, it appears it could not be arranged, and, as you noted, this theater, built well before the wide-screen era, cannot provide the full 70mm experience. It is a crying shame, when one thinks of all the venues both in the Loop or in the Chicago suburbs that once were 70mm capable, that only Music Box appears to remain. It clearly a very special niche in Chicago, but obviously only runs 70mm film occasionally.

Another sad reality that militates against new 70mm installations, even for revival showings, is that good quality 70mm prints, even of classic titles, are increasingly hard to acquire, and studios, if they are interested at all in maintaining access to classic films shot in 70mm, would rather make digital restorations than strike new 70mm prints.

Even the Dome cannot run some existing 70mm prints of some titles because the print sources, in some cases, will not allow the prints to run off a platter system, and the Dome at present cannot run 70mm without using a platter. In addition, there are fewer and fewer skilled projectionists who really know how to run 70mm film properly, especially if it has to be shown on a changeover basis.

Finally, even if a few films are shot in 70mm now and in the future, there is no guarantee that they will be projected that way; look at what is happening with “Samsara”. There is not much incentive to install a 70mm projector (and all that goes with it) if there is not going to be a regular flow of product. Lack of regular product is one factor (surely not the only one) that contributed to the demise of Cinerama and the original Todd-AO.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on September 15, 2012 at 1:19 am

I saw THE MASTER on August 16 at the Music Box in 70mm. It was presented in 1.85; Datasat Sound. It filled up a good portion of the proscenium.

RickB
RickB on May 16, 2013 at 6:42 pm

The historic facade of the Century is in jeopardy, as the owners want to remove it and replace it with windows. It isn’t landmarked. DNAInfo story here.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on May 17, 2013 at 9:22 am

Look at the photos! How many more windows does it need?Seems to me it already has plenty of windows?

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