Hillcrest Theater

1701 N. Larkin Avenue,
Joliet, IL 60403

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This was a large thater built in 1967 in the Hillcrest Shopping Center. I worked there as an usher for about a year and then as a janitor for a year and a half. The theater was haunted.

Contributed by Dwayne Hendrickson

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

RobertEndres on May 18, 2005 at 9:23 am

I worked at the Hillcrest Theatre as a relief projectionist in the late ‘60’s/early '70’s before coming to New York. The theatre opened in the Hillcrest Shopping Center in the Summer of 1967, just a week or so before the Meadowview in Kankakee opened. I was the first projectionist at the Meadowview and it was my full time job unitl I came here, but Leo O'Connor, who was the Joliet business agent and full time projectionist at the Hillcrest would frequently use me in several of his theatres. The Hillcrest was operated by ABC/Plitt theatres when it opened, and its competition was L & M in the downtown theatres including the Rialto. In Kankakee the situation was just reversed with Plitt operating the Paramount downtown and L & M the Luna downtown and the Meadowview in the Meadowview Shopping Center. I don’t know about the Hillcrest being haunted, but it did have some quirks. When the booth exhaust fan was on a vacuum would develop which was strong enough to cause the lobby doors to open if the booth door was opened. That could lead to the booth getting extremely hot, even in Winter. Both the Hillcrest and the Meadowview were the first new theatres to be opened in their respective cities in years, and their operating companies shared a (now illegal) policy of splitting product which guarenteed a pretty even split in playing the top films. I find it ironic that a theatre which created such excitement when it opened has already ceased to exist, while the Rialto, which was getting pretty run down in the '70’s has been restored to its former glory.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on September 2, 2007 at 11:33 am

The listings of 12/23/86 show that this was a twin. GOLDEN CHILD was showing there that say at 1:30, 3:30, 5:30, 7:30 and 9:30. NO MERCY was also there at 1:15, 3:25, 5:30, 7:45, and 9:55.

kencmcintyre on August 29, 2008 at 9:18 am

This site states that the theaters were turned into stores in the mid 1990s:

Allan on January 7, 2011 at 11:57 pm

I worked in this shopping center when this theatre opened and got an invite to the grand opening. Little did I know this was a social event in town with everyone decked out in their Sunday best and even some formalwear. Grand opening feature was The Dirty Dozen. The shopping center was anchored by a Goldblatts (which later turned into a Venture) and a Boston Store (which later turned into a Service Merchandise). The center also had a Walgreen’s and a Jewel Food Store and was quite the draw on the west side of town. The first major center outside of downtown. As mentioned above the former theatre still stands and is shared by two businesses.

buddy2007 on August 8, 2012 at 9:35 pm

I remember going there in the early 1970s. It was a single screen…which was huge. They had huge gold curtains that where on each side of the screen. The interior was very upscale & modern.

When the cineplexes at the nearby malls opened in the late 70s, it put the crunch in it to add more screens. By the early-mid 80s the shopping plaza lost a lot of businesses & it became very dumpy.

DAL on August 9, 2012 at 8:36 am

I’ll always remember the first time I saw “Annie Hall.” It was at the Hillcrest, still a 1000+ seat single-screen in 1977. Woody Allen films really didn’t play that well in Chicago’s collar cities, and I was one of about four people watching the movie. But every time a funny line happened, you could hear all four of us, in our own corners of the auditorium, laughing out loud. Our laughter echoed in that cavernous room.

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