Chicago Theaters In Danger

posted by Ross Melnick on October 24, 2002 at 10:55 am

CHICAGO, IL — According to a new report in the Chicago Tribune, the upcoming opening of the new 21-screen, AMC River East may be the death knell of several nearby, older movie houses including the 1970s-era McClurg Court and, most notably, the 1930s-era streamline moderne Esquire Theatre.

Unlike the McClurg Court and Esquire, Loews Cineplex will probably retain its 9-screen multiplex at 600 N. Michigan despite the competition. The 2-screen Loews theater at 900 N. Michigan, however, may also be closed in the shakeup.

The nearby Water Tower triplex, which is currently operated by Village Theatres, could emerge unscathed as well with its current programming policy of art house fare.

According to Barry Schain, though, a broker who has worked with several large movie theater chains and is quoted in the Tribune, “‘There are now five theaters with 23 screens in the area, and we’ll end up with two theaters and 30 screens … The writing is on the wall for the smaller theaters.’”

The Tribune is also reporting that if these theaters close, they will likely be repurposed or torn down to make way for alternate development. The McClurg Court has been rumored to be converted into a live performance venue, while the Esquire was sold months ago to another developer with speculation swirling that “a hotel at the Esquire” is probable.

The Tribune cites a “health club” as the next business for the 900 N. Michigan Loews location.

We’ll keep you posted…

(Thanks to Bryan Krefft for keeping his ear to the ground.)

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