Thunderbird Theater

31 Golf Center,
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169

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GFeret on November 16, 2015 at 12:56 pm

I took my young sons Charlie & Ernie here for the first HOME ALONE movie. I still drive right by every couple weeks and that hibachi royal buffet restaurant that occupies the old theatre space looks to do a bumper business. If you walk through the gangway alongside the building that connects to the south (rear) parking lot anybody can easily notice the emergency exits still there that’re typical of theatres

ChasSmith on January 30, 2014 at 1:58 pm

From the looks of the building on Google and Bing, it must have been a really fine suburban theater.

I wish I could remember what I saw there while living in the area in 1985/86. If anyone can recall any particular movies exhibited there during those years, I’d sure appreciate it.

Pichu8boy on June 25, 2013 at 6:42 am

As of today, it is no longer a Furniture Showroom, it is now a Royal Buffet.

rivest266 on June 21, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Grand opening ad posted here

Broan on August 2, 2011 at 8:27 am

It went from the Thunderbird to Century when it split in 1978, and added a third, 900 seat screen (#1) which was itself split in 1983.

Broan on July 19, 2010 at 3:41 pm

Architect was Christopher Chamales

TLSLOEWS on May 1, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Cool Stories.

chapcan on April 20, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Nicholas and Alexandra, The Fiddler on the Roof, too

chapcan on April 20, 2010 at 12:55 pm

You Only Live Twice/Thunderball double-feature with my brother and his friend; House of Dark Shadows( I was only 10, so with my brother again!); Cabaret (at 12, changed my life); The Exorcist, with friend and his father insisted on going with us; Jaws, jumped out of my seat and screamed a lot- packed house/nightmares; A Star is Born; Network, at 16, the sight of Faye getting it on with William made me nauseous- I was an usher there in ‘74. I also worked at the Baskin-Robbins and the Service Merchandise after is was a Grants. Earlier, my Dad took me to the liquor store on Sunday and always bought me a pretzel stick. There was a German bakery next to that and Fabrini’s Flowers was there also. Left town in '78. Returned in '79 to see The Main Event with Steve and in '81 to see Yentl with Cathy.

kencmcintyre on February 16, 2009 at 4:27 pm

Here is a Daily Herald article dated 11/6/86;

The four-screen Century Theater in Hoffman Estates, after slashing prices and removing first-run movies last month, has shut its doors, ending an eight-year stint in the village. Located in the Golf-Rose Shopping Center, the theater had been the subject of rumors that it would fold over the years, but as late as last month, Century officials denied that the theater would close. Essaness Theaters owned the Century.

With its closing, only one Essaness theater remains in the Chicago area. Earlier this year, Essaness sold its area business to Cineplex-Odeon, a Canadian parent company of Plitt Theatres. Officials at Essaness refused to return repeated phone calls about the Century closing, but village officials in Hoffman Estates confirmed that the theater closed Tuesday.

The news comes just a month after the theater decided to show second-run movies and reduce its admission price from $4 per ticket to $1.50. By doing so, the Century dropped out of competition with Woodfield Theaters and Statford Square for first-run moviegoers and pitted itself against the Barrington Square Six Theaters in Hoffman Estates.

Larry Hanson, an Essaness spokesman, said at the time that the move was only an experiment and he denied that the Century would close. The Century opened in 1978 with three theaters, replacing the old Thunderbird Theater, which closed in 1977. Century split the Thunderbird Theater in half and added on the third screen. Later, the third screen also was split, providing four screens.

With the closing of the Century, the Barrington Square Six is the only movie house in Hoffman Estates. Owners of that theater announced earlier this year, however, that they plan to add 10 more screens in the future.

KevinPreston on September 14, 2007 at 8:18 pm

I saw the first “Rocky” there. I will never, ever forget leaving that theater after the movie late on a winter Chicago evening. We got into our car after a movie and it was the coldest I have EVER been in my life, by far. Leaving the auditorium, crunching through snow to our aqua colored Buick with the matching aqua interior that vinyl SO cold! What we did for movies back then.

jackhicko on February 19, 2007 at 10:02 pm

The 2,000 parking spots was the lot for the entire plaza, which included National Foods, Baskin-Robbins, WT Grant, an art supply, a drug store, and some other businesses. Here is a current photo of the building!
View link
Been waiting a long time for posts like these last ones… thank you so much!

kencmcintyre on February 8, 2007 at 5:51 am

Newspaper article dated 9/2/65:

Drawings were released this week for the proposed 1,400-seat movie theater in the Golf-Rose Shopping Center in Hoffman Estates. Lowell Siff, vice president of F&S Construction Co., developer of the center, estimated that the theater should be open within six to nine months. He emphasized that the size of the movie house should assure
the showing of first run movies.

AT PRESENT THE nearest theater either in existence or under construction is a smaller theater in Rolling Meadows. The Golf-Rose theater will be built to the southeast of the Grant store and will face north toward the shopping center parking lot. The theater will be adjoined by 35,000 square feet of new space for new stores toward the east. Siff said that the commercial area is needed because all of the 81,000 square feet in Golf-Rose and the 42,500 square feet in the Plaza is now filled. There have been no commitments yet on the additional 35,000 square feet.

OPERATOR OF the theater will be Duncan Kennedy, described by Siff as a man with long experience in the field. Kennedy will continue to operate a movie house on Route 20 he now runs. Siff said the construction of a theater in a shopping center conforms with a country-wide trend. The parking space gets double use and many persons come to the center to shop who wouldn’t otherwise.

Broan on February 7, 2007 at 7:13 pm

The Thunderbird opened October 21, 1966, with 1200 seats, at a cost of $750,000. It featured a 60-foot screen, 6-track sound, and a courtyard lounge with decor varying with the seasons. It also said it had parking for 2000 cars, but why you would need that many spots for a 1200 seat theater was not explained. Operator was Duncan Kennedy, a former Publix-Great States (Balaban & Katz) Vice President, who also operated the Starview drive-in near Elgin and later the Hi-lite in Aurora.

cgull99 on November 23, 2006 at 7:09 pm

I remember this theatre well. I saw my first movie there, a re-release of Bambi circa 1975. I think the last movie I remember seeing there was Superman 3, but it may have become Century 1-2-3 by then.

NinjaMurasaki on March 10, 2006 at 2:04 pm

I’ve never been to the theater before since I’m sure it closed before I was born. My Mom told me about it a while ago. I live very close by to it. I hope you can get a link to those pictures. I would find them interesting. Hanover Park Kid has some pictures to post of Tradwinds Theater but was wondering when a picture posting feature would show up. I’m not sure when or if, so a link would work fine until then. I hope you can get it.

jackhicko on February 24, 2006 at 12:46 am

Oh for crying out loud! Didn’t ANY film lovers grow up in Hoffman Estates? It’s been a year! This poor theater! Well, I’LL never forget it! I guess I’ll never be able to post my photo of it… I’ll try to add a link to it soon. It was the only theater between Hoffman Estates and Rolling Meadows. Back then, if you wanted cinema, you went to the Thunderbird, watched NBC Saturday Night at the Movies, and followed Channel 32’s weird forays into what would become the norm for cable tv two decades later.
In my previous post, I also forgot Matt Helm.
There was a drug store next door to the Thunderbird and it was the only place you could buy comics, so this would always be part of the Thunderbird experience.

jackhicko on February 18, 2005 at 3:39 am

I watched them build it and I remember the individual brick-laying of the facade! It opened with “The Idol” and I was very upset! I thought it would be something great with free admission. My greatest memories were “Coogan’s Bluff”, “Where Eagles Dare”, Wait Until Dark", “Billy Jack”, “Marlowe”, and most importantly “Goldfinger/Dr. No” double feature! My mom took me to this double feature on a Monday night and it changed me forever! To this day, I only go to movies on weekday nights at the late show (and the theaters are all mine!).
I went back last month for the first time in 35 years and I took a picture of it now. I’ll post it soon. I think it was a cleaners.

MovieMan26 on June 22, 2004 at 3:48 am

This theater closed in 1987, In the end its venue went from showing
first-run films to second-run films, At a cost of a 1.50$.