Piper's Alley Theatre

1608 N. Wells Street,
Chicago, IL 60614

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Showing 1 - 25 of 43 comments

rivest266 on November 8, 2016 at 3:55 am

May 24, 1991 grand opening ad in the photo section.

RickB on July 22, 2014 at 3:28 pm

The Second City is expanding into the theater space, using most of it for their training programs. DNAInfo Chicago story here.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on November 12, 2013 at 3:44 am

Is anything happening with this theater?

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on November 29, 2011 at 8:11 pm

The marquee could still be on a timer and it just automatically goes on and off.

DavidZornig on November 29, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Had to do a double take tonight, while driving by Piper’s Alley Theatre. The marquee was fully on, with most of it’s moving lights in tact. Yet as we know, no movie names, just blank spaces. It appears Piper’s Alley is just using the marquee as a way to attract attention to the other businesses within the complex.

Broan on June 8, 2011 at 11:20 am

There are rumblings. http://chicago.racked.com/archives/2011/06/02/whats-playing-at-pipers-alley-this-weekend-nothing-is-a-new-theater-looking-at-the-space.php

JamesPiscitelli on June 8, 2011 at 10:36 am

Hopefully another chain will take over like The Picture Show Entertainment, Classic Cinemas or Regal Entertainment. One time they were showing classic films (like the 600 North Michigan) and movies just out of first-run theatres.

WHALER66 on June 6, 2011 at 8:11 pm

AMC does it again. They starved another theater that they had no use for into oblivion. They took out the Esquire and now the Pipers Alley, and I guess the Norridge is next on the hit list. Just like the Esquire….. they stocked it with films nobody wanted to see and then the revenues dropped to the point where they have enough leeway to be rid of the property. Shame on you AMC.

DavidZornig on May 27, 2011 at 7:53 am

The story also made the local NBC news last night. But being it’s only a 20 year old theater, they couldn’t really pump up the history any.
As I mentioned before, as vibrant as that area still is, there is no reason a well run operation can’t create as well as fill the need. With 4 screens they could split the fare with 1st & art house films. Just needs a lot of freshening up, and a new attitude.

DavidZornig on May 27, 2011 at 7:53 am

The story also made the local NBC news last night. But being it’s only a 20 year old theater, they couldn’t really pump up the history any.
As I mentioned before, as vibrant as that area still is, there is no reason a well run operation can’t create as well as fill the need. With 4 screens they could split the fare with 1st & art house films. Just needs a lot of freshening up, and a new attitude.

DavidZornig on May 26, 2011 at 10:30 am

Just going from memory, a few things I saw here in the last 20 years. Dragged to “Priscilla Queen Of The Desert”, by a date I could never say no to. But often had to carry her home. “Dangerous Liasons” which I can’t even spell apparently. A re-release of “Basic Instinct”. I think need to pick better girls. And maybe a 1st run of “Singles”. Which pretty much sums up more than the theater, I’d say. Hope it gets some caring new owners who heed my advice in my older posts.

JRS40 on May 26, 2011 at 10:08 am

Good riddance to this dump. Hopefully someone will come in and make something special of it again.

Broan on May 26, 2011 at 9:34 am

It is indeed closing. View link

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on May 25, 2011 at 1:44 am

Yesterday (May 24) was the 20th Anniversary of the opening of this theatre. Hmmmm…..I wonder if Loews initially signed a 20 year lease….which means….it should be up……..if that indeed is the case. Of course, I merely speculate…..and hope that AMC pulls out of here and a new, more ambitious tenant will take over.

JRS40 on June 25, 2010 at 9:22 am

Cinemark I will wait with baited breath for that glorious day when you make your annoouncement. I can’t imagine how great it would be to revive dying theaters like this one.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on May 24, 2010 at 9:54 pm

I was brave and made a trip earlier tonight to see GREENBURG. The Pipers Alley is still the same: pathetic. The staff has low morale; the presentation was lousy; the complex was empty as usual. AMC; please sell this place. You obviously don’t care about it. Sell it to Cinemark Fan; or, sell it to some independent operator who would like to return the Pipers Alley to it’s 1990s glory days. It’s amazing that this theatre is still open. It’s downright depressing.

CinemarkFan on April 12, 2010 at 4:26 pm

Tim, JRS40,

God willing, next year I will have some good news to share regarding my theater corporation. I have a name too, and I’m getting ready to get it copyrighted. I’m also doing some polishing on my business plan, as things have changed somewhat with the whole digital projection/fathom events thing.

Anyway, Piper’s Alley would be a nice location for my corporation. If I got my hands on it, I would put in rocking leather seats (similar to the leather seats at the Lake), a fresh decor/color scheme reminiscent of say, older M & R theaters or movie palaces. The concessions would be a bit upscale, with different salts/flavorings for popcorn, different toppings for a hot dog, and items like fresh teas/coffee and the like. Programming would be art fare, but I am willing to pay extra for a Chicago area exclusive, such as movies in limited run during oscar season. And #1 would be ideal for running a 70mm festival. It’s screen has to be about 45-50 feet wide, and thats bigger than the Landmark.

And yes, the box office downstairs would be put back into use.

DavidZornig on April 9, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Another novel idea would be to have Second City take over the management of Pipers Alley.
They could have mini live shows before the start of each film, to test out main stage material. Similar to what the Marx Bros. would do. They ironed out the kinks in routines that ultimately appeared rewritten in films, in front of a live audience first.
It could be a regular entertainment mecca over there. Plus the Second City ownership surely has the right connections,and would benefit from an improved theater nearby.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on April 9, 2010 at 10:10 am

Wouldn’t it be nice if an independent operator took over the theatre. Believe me, Pipers Alley used to be a half-way decent theatre. It used to have 70mm in 2 auditoriums. I think that AMC only operates it because perhaps they are stuck in a lease. I don’t know. But you are right. Let’s hope for a new tenant.

JRS40 on April 9, 2010 at 10:05 am

Piper’s Alley is the worst theater in the city. They are understaffed at the concession stand and with ushers. If there are ten people in the theater you can bet they are all in line and there is one girl behind the stand who, it appears, has been trained to go as slow as possible. No ushers ever patrol the auditoriums and the box office is now upstairs in the building and looks pretty tacky as you walk in. They are wasting that nice, big box office on the floor below. I don’t even think they use it on weekends anymore. The bathroom doors are propped open for some reason. The theaters have broken chairs and just don’t look clean anymore. It’s a shame because this theater COULD survive because there is no immediate competition in the area. AMC needs to act like it cares or close the place down.

DavidZornig on December 15, 2009 at 8:21 pm

It would be a shame if they can’t make it. The closest competition is miles away. I’m guessing Webster Place. There’s no reason up to and including a poorly run place, that Piper’s Alley couldn’t stay in business. Wells Street still bustles with an eclectic crowd.

I can only guess that by running the older films, that that is their shot at being a revival house. Maybe they are unable to acquire or afford 1st run films or something.

Also this week all the old Second City alum were in town for it’s 50th.
So that may have had something to do with it. But that’s a stretch. If they had run “Home Alone”, “Strange Brew” or the like, I would see the connection.

It will be interesting to see what develops.

But if anyone who runs it is reading, get your hands on “Miracle On 34th Street”, “Scrooge”(1970 version) and whatever else you can dig up. Even the Pickwick is running “It’s a Wonderful Life”. For free no less.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on December 15, 2009 at 12:50 pm

You want to hear something weird. This week, the Pipers Alley is showing THE BLUES BROTHERS. A few weeks back they were showing THE GODFATHER. Does anybody out there know what this is all about?

JRS40 on December 15, 2009 at 10:32 am

Was there this past weekend to see “The Messenger.” It’s really sad compared to the way it used to be. They don’t even put the slides in the slots in front of the theaters to identify which movie is in which theater. Seats are broken and they are so understaffed I had to close the auditorium doors when the movie started (and noticed one of the theaters had theirs open the whole time) or we would have clearly heard the movie next door. It’s as if they stopped caring. That and the fact that they no longer do shows after 8pm? This theater will be gone within a year.