Diana Cinemas

17735 Halsted Street,
Homewood, IL 60430

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The Diana Twin opened in September 1975. The original operating chain was Essaness, later operated by Plitt Theatres and finally by the Cineplex Odeon chain. It was located in the Washington Square Mall. The Diana Twin was a nice change of pace from the drab General Cinemas in Indiana. It was located just over the state line in Homewood, Illinois. I saw several films there that I couldn’t see anywhere else such as “Ragtime” and “Friday the 13th 3-D”.

My best memory was a weeknight sneak preview that ended up being the first public showing of “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure”. Imagine a packed house of people all doing the Pee Wee laugh before the show.

As the area became more dangerous and the mall less populated, the Diana Cinemas became a dollar house in 1992. Apparently this experiment failed and the theater closed in 1994. A few years later I went to take a peek and it appeared everything was still there, though I couldn’t see into the auditoriums.

Both the Diana Cinemas and mall that it was located in have been demolished in around 2007, replaced by several “big box” type retail structures.

Contributed by John

Recent comments (view all 14 comments)

CatherineDiMartino on February 15, 2007 at 6:16 am

Why was this theatre named the Diana?

JudithK on May 21, 2010 at 5:06 pm

I think I read in the entry about River Oaks that it was named after one of the corporate owner’s spouses. I was in the Diana Cinemas many times. The Diana was in an enclosed mall, Washington Square Mall, which went into a precipitous decline and the better-known national stores left and were either replaced by entrepreneurs (nothing wrong with that) or nothing at all (a problem). The bookings were good at the outset, but the decline of Washington Square Mall affected the Diana Cinemas and their bookings. One of the last times I was in the Mall it was a very hot day, the Mall was not running any air conditioning, and there were very few stores open in it. I think that may have been the period when the Diana reverted to dollar movie showings. No surprise when the Mall was torn down. When the Diana was getting good film bookings I liked it, but when things went south at Washington Square Mall, I didn’t. Description of the Diana? Red plush everything.

Beadee on July 8, 2010 at 10:16 am

“Red Plush Everything” You nailed it! We used to get dropped off at that mall and hang out at the arcade next door all day.

I remember freaking out because the ticket price to see Mosquito Coast was close to $7 near the end of it’s first run heyday. They should have never gone second run, they didn’t hire good security. I think I saw Hellraiser II near the end and the place was pretty empty. Such a shame as this was a good size theater in a decent little mall. I know somebody down here has to still have some photos of the mall or even the Diana.

Jeffreyy on March 20, 2011 at 10:39 pm

I was 11 when my dad took me to see Friday the 13th in 3-D. We waited in a long line to see that movie. I grew up going to this theater. I remember those same two old guys always there to rip your tickets. When we were kids we would always make it a double feature. First Terminator then sneek on over to see Beverly Hills Cop. After leaving the theater we made a left turn and went into the arcade. Time to play some Double Dragon!
I moved to CA. in 1991 but this place is still fresh in my mind.
“If anyone knows where some old pics of Washington Square Mall exist please let us know.”

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on April 11, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Mentioned in April 1985 BOXOFFICE about Plitt taking over and building a 4-Plex in Fox Valley Shooping Center in Aurora.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on October 13, 2011 at 11:24 am

Didn’t Paul Anka do a song about this theatre? Just joking and Paul Anka was a little bit before my time.

ScotK on December 2, 2011 at 2:02 pm

I had lost track of the situation at Washington Square Mall after I left the area. Sad to hear it went into such a precipitous decline and finally was torn down. I was the Assistant Manager and then Acting Manager from early in 1978 to late 1980. At the time Essaness Theatres was the second largest chain in the Chicago area. It was a great first job after working on my AA in business. In 1978 they had just divided the Twin into one of the first mulitplex theaters — after the remodel boasting four screens. The Essaness folks usually did the details well,and yes, the Diana was red plush everything.

msaltzma on May 7, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Best memory I have of seeing a movie at Diana Cinemas at Washington Square Mall is with my mom, dad, and sister when we saw “A Christmas Story.” We came out of the theatre that night and how fitting…it was snowing. Thinking it was before Christmas of 1983.

DAL on May 8, 2012 at 6:53 am

Essaness managers said that the Diana was named after Alan Silverman’s wife. She was also allegedly responsible for the restroom tile choices in many of the Essaness locations.

scottfess on July 22, 2012 at 7:08 pm

I remember seeing a bunch of movies there for free
my grandfather Ben Sax worked there. Nothing like
walking to the front of the line. He was a good man
and always a fun time at the Diana!!!!

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