Paramount Theatre

213 N. Schuyler Avenue,
Kankakee, IL 60901

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Showing 17 comments

Trolleyguy on May 18, 2016 at 4:34 pm

Updated website link:

Beadee on July 8, 2010 at 11:57 am

Love this theater. Well worth the drive from Homewood or even Chicago if it’s a film in the main theater.

Meredith Rhule
Meredith Rhule on December 19, 2008 at 8:01 pm

Jerry, how ya doing brother? Well, he left his message two and a half years ago. Oh well, it is the thought that counts.

MustangMike on September 8, 2006 at 4:56 am

The Paramount theatre is celebrating it’s 75th anniversary with a week of movies from the past seven decades. Here is a link to the Classic Cinemas page listing the films.

iatse on August 15, 2006 at 3:14 pm

I was the last projectionist at the Town Cinema theatre taking
Meredith place when he went out West.


jalong on April 4, 2005 at 3:27 pm

The Kankakee Paramount was a virtual twin to the Paramount Theater ibn Aurora, IL. They were built at the same time, 1931; the Aurora version opened in September. It’s now the Paramount Arts Centre.

radtothebad on September 14, 2004 at 7:41 pm

So I found out who owns the Majestic, and he supposedly has plans to do something with it. Also one evening, as I was enjoying a drink at the City Tavern (heh heh, with its “great” history) I noticed a photo of the Majestic on the wall next to the restrooms. The only old picture I have seen of it. I about died of happiness. It’s hard to find photos and other info on theatres here in Kankakee.

JASmall on March 19, 2004 at 6:44 am

The Luna was right next door to the old Watlands Camera Store, indeed more or less kitty-corner from the Arcade Building (where my dad worked as an elevator operator when he was in high school, but that’s another story.) Have to admit I don’t know anything about the other five theaters you named, but I’ll ask my dad anout them the next time I see him.

What used to be the Majestic, I am told, is now used by the Kankakee Valley Theatre group for its performances and office space. (I remember those tile floors, too; my younger brothers used to pretend they were pieces on a giant chess board!) As for the drive-in on Highway 17, that was the Starlite (at least that was the name it used as far back as I recall, though I’m told it had operated under another named prior to the 1960s). Spent quite a bit of time at the Starlite as a teenager.

radtothebad on March 18, 2004 at 9:55 pm

and maybe someone remembers the drive-in out on 17?

radtothebad on March 18, 2004 at 9:54 pm

My only Those Where the Days was seeing Beetlejuice there in 1987. I remember there being tiled floors, though, as I ventured down to the scary bathroom by myself.

I discovered the Luna today, actually, after spending some time in the Kankakee Public Library. Where was it? kitty corner to the Arcade Building? I also discovered there were 5 other theaters: the Star, the Royal, the Bijou, the La Petite, and the Arcade Opera House. That’s crazy to me. anyone know anything about these? or could tell me even more about The Majestic, and what’s happening to it now?

JASmall on February 16, 2004 at 9:41 am

It was indeed the Majestic when it was originally opened from the late 1930s (I think) through the mid or late 1950s. My father spent many a Saturday at the Majestic during this period watching Flash Gordon serials and Johnny Weismuller Tarzan flicks. It was later reopened in the early 1970s as the Town Cinema (this was just a few years after Kankakee’s other theatre, the Luna, was closed down) and remained in business through the early 1990s (I forget the exact date, although the last film I remember seeing there was “Dances With Wolves” in 1991, just a few months before moving to Oklahoma). It wasn’t as ornate as the Paramount and had a smaller screen, but it was a good little theatre for much of its life; towards the end it fell on hard times, both physically (it became quite run down near the end) and in terms of the films it showed (there was a period in the mid to late 80s when it even showed porn films on a fairly regular basis, unfortunately). My favorite memory of the Town Cinema is of sitting through multiple showings of the original “Star Wars” during its initial run in 1977, when I was but a lad of 14. Spent quite a bit of my paper route money that summer on George Lucas, Coke and Lemonheads, as I recall. Those were the days…

Meredith Rhule
Meredith Rhule on February 5, 2004 at 12:21 am

Now I remember, that theater kitty-corner was originally called the Majestic, if I am not mistaken.

Meredith Rhule
Meredith Rhule on February 4, 2004 at 11:34 pm

When I was a projectionist at the theater kitty-corner to the Paramount in 1974, it was called the Town Cinema. It had been converted to a much smaller theater from what it had originally been. My gosh, the old projection booth was clear up on the roof of that building. To get into the old projection booth, you had to climb a ladder on the outside of the building to get to it. When I ventured up to it in 1974, the door was sealed shut for 30 years, but I busted into it. It was like going back in time. The projectionists there then, I guess had expected to be back soon because their working slippers, reading materials and medicines in the cabinet had not been removed. Back then, Oscar Schmidt was the projectionist across the street at the Paramount. Oscar and his brother Jim ran the union in town. Ah, those were the days… :)

radtothebad on November 7, 2003 at 4:37 pm

The Paramount is awesome. Does anyone know about the empty theatre that sits kitty-corner to the Paramount? It is the only other old movie theatre in the whole tri-city area. I’m going to try to get some pics of it one of these days, as well as do a little research about Kankakee theaters. Anybody remember anything?

ChuckVanBibber on November 1, 2003 at 4:17 pm

Taken from the Classic Cinemas Web Site:
Beginning in the early 1920’s, the Famous Players-Laskey Film Company expanded because of the success of films and became known as the Paramount Pictures. Balaban & Katz of Chicago merged with them, and in 1926 the groups opened the New York Paramount Theatre as its home base on Times Square. Almost always movies produced by Paramount Pitcures, the company established theatres across the country. It continued building theatres into the early 1930’s and developed standardized furnishings, management details and assessories.
When the Kankakee Paramount opened on April 11, 1931, the Mayor of Kankakee designated the ensuing week as “Paramount Week.” At that time there were at least six other theatres in downtown Kankakee, but by the 1980’s only two remained.
The owner of the Paramount building contacted Classic Cinemas, which decided to buy it. Although the building’s interior was badly neglected over the years, the building was structurally sound and many of its art deco elements were still intact.
It took more than double the purchase price, but the Paramount was renovated and modernized in keeping with its heritage, reopening on December 15, 1988/ The lobby features the original poster cases topped with the “Publix Theatres” symbol, a trade name ised by the entire Paramount circuit on everything from advertising to buttons on the ushers' uniforms. Ten plaster plaques are positioned around the upper portion of the lobby walls. Several are originals; three were recast during the renovation.
The reconstructed auditorium doors, w\ith highly polished hardware and stained glass inserts lead to one of the largest halls in Kankakee. The auditorium is decorated in a style that is very typical of Paramount theatres with a cobalt blue ceiling and intricate geometric designs in green, red, gold and silver. All the painting was done by local painter and artisan Gary Reynolds.
The theatre was also redecorated throughout with new tile floors, new carpeting and cand counter. The marquee was restored. New Projection equipment and new screens also were installed.
In the fall of 1990 four more screens were added to the theatre by building in the parking lot adjacent to the theatre, perserving the large, historic auditorium. The art deco style was carried into the new wing, and art deco lights were purchased from a theatre in Pennsylvania for the “new” auditoriums.
In 1998 an excellant HPS 4000 Dolby Digital Sound system was added and in 1999 new theatre seats were installed in the main auditorium.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on October 26, 2001 at 9:44 am

Really nice theatre. The four newer theatres carry the art deco theme over really nice. Classic Cinemas is a CLASS ACT!