River Oaks Theatre

130 River Oaks Center Sr.,
Calumet City, IL 60409

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River Oaks Theatre

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The original one screen River Oaks Dimension 150 Theatre was opened in 1969 by ABC Great States Theaters. It had 1,600 rocking chair seats, a large curved screen, auditorium lights on the sides of theater that were dimly lit during intermission, and a giant curtain that opened from both sides at the middle. This theater was classy to say the least. It’s premiere attraction was “100 Rifles” with Jim Brown and Raquel Welch.

During the 1970’s 70mm & stereo sound was installed which only added to the great experience. Every major event film opened there and if you had a choice to see the same film there or at one of the bland, non stereo sound General Cinemas in Northwest Indiana, you usually took the drive to Calumet City.

“Airport 1975”, “Logan’s Run”, “King Kong”, “Star Wars”, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “Superman” were all films my family chose to see there. Every experience was a great one. I can remember seeing “Aliens” there and the sound was so loud my ears rang after the movie. That was the first and only time that has ever happened.

The area is not as safe as it once was but I still took in a movie on rare occasions (both of the new “Star Wars” films, “Titanic”, and “Spiderman”) but the management seemed to care little about its appearance. The curtains remain open all the time. The side lights are never used and now the flood lights the cleaning crew uses are turned on before and after the movie. Unfortunately when the flood lights are turned on you cannot see the credits on the screen. The rocking chairs were removed in 1994.

This theater closed in January 2006.

Contributed by John

Recent comments (view all 233 comments)

Fred Schiller
Fred Schiller on December 29, 2011 at 2:48 am

During December in the late 1970s a local charity rented out what used to be called #1 (back when there were only three theaters) and they played the 1970 musical Scrooge which starred Albert Finney. I had never seen it before so I watched and danced along as much as I could. Watching that film has become a holiday event in my house. The DVD gets a workout. I’m glad I got to see it in the big theater in all its glory. That’s a very fond River Oaks memory.

Sirdrummer007
Sirdrummer007 on January 31, 2012 at 11:19 pm

Notice this theater is listed as Having One screen. It did start out as 1 screen and later had another screen added. Riveroaks 1-4 closed as a two screen theater.

Fred Schiller
Fred Schiller on February 1, 2012 at 8:45 pm

In the beginning there was the River Oaks theater. Then the much smaller River Oaks 2&3 theaters were built across the street. After that, a small theater was built attached to the original River Oaks. That made River Oaks 4 and that’s when I moved on. What was build after that and where in the mall is unknown to me. Hope this helped. —Fred

Sirrom0206
Sirrom0206 on February 17, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Yesterday I found this site, and was sad to hear about the death of this theater. I saw the first run on the first night, of Star Wars (1977) in this theater. The line circled the building twice. This was an outstanding and majestic place to experience cinema. I loved hearing the silent roar of the projectors and looking back to occasionally see the projectionist. This was a landmark theater, a generation of good times lost.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on June 7, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Is this building still standing?

rivest266
rivest266 on June 18, 2012 at 8:28 pm

May 30th, 1969 grand opening ad is in the photo section for this theatre.

Sirdrummer007
Sirdrummer007 on June 20, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Paul, yes this building is still there. I hope someone opens it back up soon

bbfarmer
bbfarmer on February 4, 2013 at 12:32 am

Remember seeing “Close Encounters” and “King Kong” at this big theater, and “Network” and “Day of the Locust” at the 2&3 across the street.

Tommyofthntn
Tommyofthntn on February 25, 2013 at 2:32 pm

With the closings of Carson Pirie Scott in January, Musiclab on Burnham Ave. in Lansing this month (Feb. 9), and Sears closing this summer, I doubt the theater will reopen. I was at River Oaks 4 months ago (Oct.) on a rain soaked day and the theaters 1-6 were bulldozed down. The original Theater #1 was still there.

Sirdrummer007
Sirdrummer007 on August 22, 2013 at 2:24 pm

What?? Musiclab is gone!! Amazing.

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