McClurg Court Cinemas

330 East Ohio Street,
Chicago, IL 60611

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McClurg Court Cinemas

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The McClurg Court Cinemas, which was last operated by the Loews Cineplex chain, was not by any stretch of the imagination anything architecturally stunning, or even very visually interesting.

It opened in 1971, and its exterior appearance still evokes that era pretty clearly, though the interior has been modernized more than once since then. For its first couple years in operation, it was a reserved seating-only roadshow house. In 1987, the large 1,189 seat auditorium was triplexed, creating one large main screen, and two much smaller screens (carved out of the balcony space).

The McClurg Court’s Auditorium #1 was for years the best place in all Chicago to see a major blockbuster, special effects packed epics such as “Titanic” or “The Matrix”, when lines would snake down Ohio Street. It had clear fields of vision, THX sound, and a 70 mm equipped projection system.

The two smaller screens were not as impressive, but did have stadium-style seating, wide aisles and DTS sound. When a major studio film, especially an action or sci-fi spectacular, premiered in Chicago, from the mid-1970’s through the 1990’s, this was most often where it took place.

However, since the opening of AMC’s 21-screen River East megaplex just down the block in 2002, attendance at the aging triplex began to fall off (though it had already been to some extent for some time). It was during the summer of 2003 that Loews Cineplex made the sad announcement it would be closing the McClurg on September 11th (though it actually ended up shuttering it August 28th instead). With its closing, a chapter in Chicago’s cinema history ended, since the McClurg Court was in many ways the last movie palace screening first-run films still in operation.

For many Chicagoans who were too young to attend the old movie palaces that had closed before they were born, like the Granada, Uptown or Southtown, the McClurg, though not remotely as huge or ornate as the old time palaces, walking into the original auditorium with its massive screen and 1,000+ seats, especially when it was packed and there was an excited buzz in the room just before a long-awaited summer blockbuster was about to begin playing, was an experience I personally will always remember fondly.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 146 comments)

aek316
aek316 on April 1, 2011 at 4:26 am

Afraid I have some bad news for fans of Mcclurg Court. As some of you may have seen on this site, theater management was offering to sell seats and projectors, etc. to cinema treasures users. I inquried to the e-mail address today inquiring about one of the old Cineplex poster cases. I got a reply saying that the owners e-mail posted late on the Cinema Treasures site and they had a salvage company come in last weekend and remove virtually everything out of the theater! I wrote back to see what they planned to do with the theater space, but I haven’t gotten a reply yet. In any case, it looks like any hopes we had of a Mcclurg Court revival are now gone. I am bummed for 2 reasons: 1) I really would like a CO poster case (i also seemingly acted late when I tried to get one out of Rivertree Court, the realty company has yet to call me back)and 2) I never saw a movie here and based on all the posts above, it was an amazing experience. I held out hope someone would revive it so I could have such an experience. I doubt any new movie theater ever built will have a big room with a huge screen like Mcclurg. RIP Mcclurg Court!

coolerlakeside
coolerlakeside on April 20, 2011 at 7:15 pm

They started demolition on the McClurg a few weeks ago. I took some pics today. They have the doors open most of the day if anyone wants to get a closer look. The white thing in the middle of the second photo is a front-end loader one story down.

http://www.rockwebhosting.com/img/mcclurg-1.jpg

http://www.rockwebhosting.com/img/mcclurg-2.jpg

http://www.rockwebhosting.com/img/mcclurg-3.jpg

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on April 20, 2011 at 7:48 pm

Indeed very sad. I think this could have been run something like the Ziegfeld in New York, by being kept available for big event films and 70mm revivals.

telliott
telliott on April 20, 2011 at 9:45 pm

Especially surprising since New York has the Ziegfeld, Seattle has the Cinerama and Washington has the Uptown. You would think that there would be enough interest in a city like Chicago. Sad indeed.

Broan
Broan on May 30, 2011 at 6:50 pm

coolerlakeside, can you repost those?

aek316
aek316 on November 19, 2011 at 2:04 pm

My wife and I were downtown last night and we’re going to catch a flick at River East. The bus let us off right by Mcclurg Court. We walked over and I peered inside a couple of the doors and everything is completely gone. Terribly sad. The only thing left is the ticket booth in front. It doesn’t look like there’s any plans or construction underway for the site so I am curious why everything would be ripped out if there’s no plans for the space. Again terribly sad. RIP MCclurg Court.

aek316
aek316 on November 19, 2011 at 2:06 pm

I’d love to see some pictures of the theater when it was still in operation. I remember there being 3 huge posters out in the front and the marquee being lit up at night.

telliott
telliott on February 25, 2012 at 9:34 pm

It really is a shame that in a city like Chicago, that this cinema (or the Esquire or both) could not have been turned in to something like a Sundance cinema, an Angelika cinema, or even another Landmark location. What a loss eh.

CinemarkFan
CinemarkFan on September 13, 2012 at 7:58 pm

With “The Master” getting 70mm prints, and Chicago not being one of them (to my knowledge), this theater is all the more missed.

Does anyone know what the construction crews doing to the space?

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