Diana Cinemas

17735 Halsted Street,
Homewood, IL 60430

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JudithK on June 5, 2016 at 4:41 am

Washington Square Mall (which was across the street from a historic racetrack) was plagued by anchor closings as I remember it. Service Merchandise was close to the Diana, so when that closed it affected foot traffic in the area. When foot traffic was diminished sales did too, so the owner seemed not to re-invest in the property which as I remember it was heavily made of cinder blocks and which made the demolition process quite a challenge. I do not remember experiencing any hassles whatsoever at this Mall, but it seemed to serve as an al fresco place to hang out for many people as I believe it was a bus stop on our Chicago area PACE Bus line. Saw many a Columbia Pictures film at the red-red-red Diana Theatre. Great place to see a motion picture. Saw just one when it converted to a discount theatre. The sound and theatre were fine, it was just a very poor booking which cable probably would have rejected. Had the owner been able to sustain stores I think the Diana would have survived and not been required to convert to a sub-standard discount house. The acreage is now primarily big-box stores (Menards, Home Depot, Target and Jewel-Osco) and doing very well.

moax429 on December 6, 2015 at 12:46 pm

Thanks for refreshing my memory, Dawn.

I also saw “Seems Like Old Times” (yet another Columbia film) at the Diana in January 1981 (the first movie I saw that year).

Dawn on October 26, 2015 at 1:28 pm

I remember going there a few times, and remember seeing Seems Like Old Times at a birthday party there. Years later I saw Coming To America and I believe it was second rate then. I also went to its sister theater Brementowne in Tinley Park which was around long after Diana (and Washington Mall).

moax429 on October 14, 2015 at 4:58 pm

After my family and I moved to Glenwood, Illinois in June 1978, I discovered this theater was down the street from where we lived and I saw many movies there (the Diana was a block north of the second-run Glenwood Theater, also within walking distance).

I remember the Diana ran many Columbia Pictures films. Among the ones I remember seeing there were: !978 “The Cheap Detective”

“California Suite”
“Just You and Me, Kid”
“Hot Stuff”

1980 “Kramer vs. Kramer” “The Blue Lagoon” (The very first R-rated movie I ever saw) “Close Encounters” (The Special Edition)

“Absence of Malice”


Shortly thereafter in May 1983, my family and I moved to New Jersey.

I’m sorry to hear the Diana, as well as Washington Square Mall, is now demolished (I haven’t been back to Illinois since we left in 1983, and I don’t think I’ll be returning anytime soon). Shame.

DavidZornig on October 6, 2015 at 8:54 am

Gala Opening Chicago Tribune September 18, 1975 print ad image added, courtesy of the Chicago’s Extinct Businesses Facebook page.

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!!!!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

CatherineDiMartino on February 15, 2007 at 6:16 am

Why was this theatre named the Diana?

Dawn on February 15, 2007 at 5:37 am

I’m pretty sure this was a second run theatre before 1993. I saw several movies there in the 80’s. Me and my friends tried to go to cheap theatres then.

CinemarkFan on July 3, 2006 at 6:30 pm

This didn’t close in 1993. I was looking at some microfilm at the library today, and I saw the Diana listed 10/14/94 in the Cineplex Odeon directory. Price was $2.00 at all times.

CinemarkFan on March 11, 2006 at 8:49 am

Anyone know where I can see photos of this place?

JohnSanchez on November 16, 2004 at 7:13 am

I ventured out to the Washington Square Mall last night only to discover that not only is the theater gone, the entire mall is gone. It appears that most if not all the mall was razed and rebuilt. Chain stores such as Target, Home Depot, and Office Max occupy the land along with several smaller stores. There is no indoor mall to speak of anymore and even the Washington Square Mall name has been changed. One restaurant that sits just off of Halsted is still there and still called the Washington Sqaure Restaurant. Sadly, there is no indication that a theater ever sat on that spot.