Harlem-Cermak Theaters

2358 Harlem Avenue,
North Riverside, IL 60546

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The Harlem-Cermak Theaters opened as a single screen theater in 1968 by General Cinemas. Later converted into a twin screen operation it was further sub-divided into four screens.

In 1993 the theater was closed due to declining attendence after another theater, Cineplex Odeon’s North Riverside Theater opened. A Best Buy store was later built on the site of the Harlem-Cermak Theaters.

Contributed by James Piscitelli

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

MovieMan26
MovieMan26 on December 6, 2003 at 6:09 am

It was so sad to see this theater close. I always went to this cinema when I was A kid. The last movie I went to see there was “CANDYMAN” back in late 92'.
I went back there resently and found A best buy store in it’s place I went inside to take A look and I gotta to tell ya' “not much has changed” you can still tell how the theater was desiged. The long walk down from the front doors to the consetion stand & screens 1-4. It kinda' brought A tear to my eye walking through best buy knowing that it was one of the movie theaters I grew-up in.

Menutia
Menutia on December 8, 2003 at 3:14 pm

In fact, the Best buy building is a NEW structure, following the footprint of the old theatre, which opened as a 2 screen General Cinema.

Michael

reiermann
reiermann on July 12, 2005 at 8:56 am

These were nice General Cinema screens. The lobby was long because the actual auditorium was behind the stores in the strip mall. The lobby taveled the length of the stores. (The Best Buy that occupies this site retains this odd shape.) The theater played first run flicks. I saw a lot of good movies here: American Grafitti, Paper Moon, Earthquake in Sensurround, Towering Inferno, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein. I remember when the theater was twinned. I thought that was kind of cool but in retrospect not so cool because I liked the larger theater. I know that the theater was divided again, but I had moved out of the area by then. I had a chance to see one more movie there (War of the Roses). The auditorium’s seating arrangement had not been adjusted. You literally had to slightly turn in your seat to see the screen. Inexcusable and lazy on behalf of the theater oweners. With good reason, it closed.

barryr
barryr on February 9, 2006 at 9:29 pm

Chitownguy, you’ve brought back a memory I’d forgotten: when the Harlem-Cermak was twinned, they didn’t adjust the seats to conform to the new configuration. As one big auditorium, the seating arrangement had a slight curvature so that you were always facing the screen in the middle. But when they made two auditoriums out of it, they didn’t move the seats to face the new screens, so you were always on a slight angle—sort of facing the corner of the room rather than the screen. It was like they just stuck a wall down the middle of the whole thing and walked away. I also remember going to see a movie when “Earthquake” was playing next door, and we could feel the Sensurround! It was unbelievably distracting and demonstrated the same lack of sensitivity by the management as the seating arrangement.

GCCguy
GCCguy on November 16, 2006 at 8:43 am

I was an assistant manager at this theater when it was a single screen house with 1,863 seats. I was transfered when it was scheduled to close to be split. I remember seeing some of the plans to remove some seats, erect a “sound barrier” wall, remove the General Cinema trademark picture frame apron from in front of the screen to be replaced with the new style black mask fabric to create two screens, move the existing speakers behind the screen, and add a second set of speakers for the 2nd screen. I don’t remember any discussions at all about reorienting the seats to face the new screens.

Prior to my assignment at Harlem-Cermak, I had worked at Ford City Cinema when it was only two screens. When I left Harlem-Cermak, I was assigned to oversee the construction of a new twin screen theater in Hanover Park’s Tradewinds Shopping Center. Those were the tiniest theaters I ever saw. I also oversaw the construction of a twin in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin and a twin in Highland Park, Illinois. I then was assigned to oversee the split of Meadowdale Cinema in Carpentersville, Illinois, but before I even went there for my first day, the manager of Randhurst Cinema in Mount Prospect, Illinois, died suddenly and I was assigned to replace him immediately. I ended up staying there for a couple of years before I left the company in 1975.

300bowler
300bowler on March 28, 2007 at 11:34 am

This was my favorite theater. I loved the long hallway with all the movie posters. Saw The Transformers moive here in 1986 and also Flight of The Navigator in the same year. Last movie I saw here was White Fang in February of 1991 with my Cub Scout Pack when I was in 5th Grade. I’m sure I saw many more movies here but these are the ones I remember the most. RIP Harlem-Cermak.

300bowler

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on September 19, 2007 at 8:02 am

I saw only one movie here and that was circa 1986. I don’t remember which movie it was. What I DO remember was that this place was dump by that point!

rpb
rpb on November 1, 2009 at 1:04 am

I took my then girlfriend (and now my wife) here on our first date, May 11, 1991. We saw “FX 2”. Looking back, everything from that night is now gone (except for my wife). Obviously, the theatre, the restaurant we went to before the movie(The Ristorante Capri, in Berwyn, burned down in 1993), Snowflake drive-in ice cream (which was where we went after the movie, closed and was torn down in 2007), My ‘83 New Yorker (went to the big parking lot in the sky), and my virginity : )

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