Cinema Theater

151 E. Chicago Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60611

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Cinema Theater

Once a popular art house located off N. Michigan Avenue on E. Chicago Avenue on Chicago’s Near North Side, the Cinema Theater opened on December 26, 1929 with “Shiraz”.

The Cinema Theater closed September 13, 1981, and was demolished and replaced a few years later by the Olympia Centre tower. A Neiman Marcus store is also situated on the former theater site.

Contributed by John Keating, Ray Martinez

Recent comments (view all 46 comments)

GFeret on September 20, 2010 at 12:03 pm

saw BAD TIMING: A SENSUAL OBSESSION at Cinema. it’s a 1980 film but doesn’t appear on above list so it must’ve played in ‘81.

also saw there Wilder’s FEDORA

the before and after picture’s have to be the most astonishing contrast ever in real estate development over just a couple years. The Cinema little arthouse theatre on Chicago Ave at Michigan = the before. then the after = an enormous skyscraper constructed on its former site. can you imagine the difference in property taxes for the same address?

DavidZornig on September 20, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Yes, the taxes. That unfortunately was first & foremost in the destruction of many Near North side buildings of significance. Multiple individual units upwards, meant far more money in the city & county’s pocket.

Even 1920’s low rises built by historic architects were sacrificed.
The real gall was when such demolitions were questioned or exposed by preservationists, public officials arrogantly claimed “they weren’t that significant”. The S/W corner of Superior & Wabash comes to mind. Where Zuverink was the anchor tenant.
Torn down around early 2000. Shameful.

dctrig on October 14, 2010 at 1:11 pm

I live in Los Angeles but remember the heyday of the unbelievable runs of “A Man and a Woman” and “Charly.”

The only time I was forced to sit in the front row was when I took a date to see “Charly” during a sold-out screening (Ouch, I think my eyeballs are still hurting).

I cannot understand why domestic and international tourists do not flock to L A for the single screen experience, as business is very soft. What other city still has three 7-day-a-week cinemas seating over 1000 and eight seating 500 or more? In total there are about 25 single screens in LA/Orange County open one or more days a week.

Today, for instance, I am going to the gorgeous 1000-seat Goldwyn theater to see the 50th anniversary showing of “Wild River.” Bruce Dern and others will do a Q & A. The Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Oscars people, run the program and only charge $5 for the public and $3 for academy members.

I have fond memories of seeing Roger Ebert and sometimes Gene Siskel at Chicago theaters in the 60s and 70s. Now I get to talk to Leonard Maltin who is a frequent attendee and/or speaker at L A events.

Anyone visiting S Calif feel free to contact me.

millege1 on February 24, 2011 at 1:43 pm

I’m looking for information on a film that was shown at the Cinema in 1965-1966. It was called “The Double-Barrelled Detective Story.” According to newspaper ads, this film opened on New Years' Eve, 1965. Executive prodecuers were Zev braun and Irving S. White of Chicago. The director was Adolfas Mekas. I’ve been told that, due to an argument between the producer and the investors, the film was never officially released. The story goes that all the working prints and files were sent from New York to Chicago, and were “lost” in transit. However, some prints were made and shown at the Cinema, and in Paris. Mr. Mekas feels that the Chicago print(and the other stuff) is lying in a Chicago warehouse, moldering. All that exists now is a “trailer” and some publicity photos. Does anyone connected with the Cinema Theater remember this film?

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on September 12, 2011 at 11:46 pm

Today is September 13, 2011. Today is the 30th Anniversary of the Cinema Theatre’s last picture show. The last movie to play at the Cinema was ATLANTIC CITY. The theatre was torn down 3 days later.

DavidZornig on November 20, 2013 at 5:54 pm

I ran into an old friend recently who told me a cool story. He worked at the Cinema in the early `70’s when “Le Boucher”(The Butcher) played there several times. He was instructed by Mr. Usher to go up on a ladder and touch up the red paint on the marquee. Before he could finish, the can fell to the sidewalk and splattered red paint everywhere. They tried to clean up as much as they could, but being oil base paint the turpentine could only do so much as to spread it around, in the time they had. Because of the film’s theme however, theater goers just assumed it was another of Oscar Brotman’s showman’s touch.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on November 20, 2013 at 8:56 pm

I was THEEEE last usher to work there in 1981. The last movie was ATLANTIC CITY. The very last shot was a building being torn down. That’s exactly what happened a couple of days later.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on September 13, 2016 at 3:33 am

I’m writing this on September 13, 2016. Today is the 35th Anniversary of the closing of the Cinema Theatre.

DavidZornig on April 9, 2017 at 7:13 pm

1981 photo added credit John P. Keating Jr. Not sure if I mentioned it before, but the black tiles on the facade were called Vitrolite. Very popular material back in the day.

rivest266 on January 13, 2018 at 10:23 am

Grand opening ad in the photo section.

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