Belvidere Cinema Gallery

2145 Belvidere Road,
Waukegan, IL 60085

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Belvidere Cinema Gallery (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: General Cinema Corp., Village Theatres

Functions: Art Gallery, Concerts, Movies

Previous Names: Belvidere Cinema

Nearby Theaters

Belvidere Cinema Gallery

This was a very bland mall cinema, which was located in the mall of the same name. It was opened by General Cinema Corp. as a 1,000-seat single screen movie theatre on January 21, 1966 with Doris Day in “Do Not Disturb”. It was twinned in early-1980. In late-1991 it became a 4-screen theatre.

Village Theatres took over in 2002. Although it looks like new seating had been installed, it was closed by Village Theatres in December 2003. A fate that has befallen many cinemas owned by Village!

It was converted into an art gallery named Belvidere Cinema Gallery and concerts are held in Screen 1 which has 70-seats plus standing space. Movies are shown in the 120-seat Screen 2. The other 2-Screens are unused.

Contributed by Paul Fortini

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

Hermie on May 18, 2006 at 3:46 pm

The Belvidere was originally a single-screen theatre built and run by the General Cinema chain. It stayed a single screen for quite some time, even years after the 3 screen GCC Lakehurst was opened up. The last film I remember seeing at the Belvidere when it was a single screen was ‘A Bridge Too far’.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on August 27, 2006 at 3:29 pm

In it’s own way this place was a classic:

Going to the movies 1974 style!

alex35mm on June 5, 2007 at 6:05 am

Not to do over any one but as the theater listing states at the time this theater opened at a 2 screen General Cinema and was later split to a 4 at some point likely in the late 80s.

CatherineDiMartino on December 5, 2007 at 1:34 pm

Here is a photo of this place.
View link

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on December 5, 2007 at 5:36 pm


The movie poster in the photo is of SCARY MOVIE 2, so the place was open until at least 2001.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on November 22, 2010 at 6:43 am

Is this cinema still here?

BEACHARK1 on April 27, 2012 at 11:04 am

I rember take my 2 year old spn to see the lion King here.

mungojerry on May 13, 2012 at 5:07 am

Belvidere Mall, where this theater is/was located, opened in the mid 60’s.(Montgomery Ward was the big anchor store!) I remember going to see movies there a number of times with friends.

jonrev on October 25, 2022 at 12:12 pm

General Cinema premiered the Belvidere on January 21, 1966 with the Doris Day-Rod Taylor romcom, “Do Not Disturb”, as the cherry atop the brand new Belvidere Mall: Lake County’s first enclosed shopping center, which had opened the previous November. The press raved about it being the city’s first new theatre built in 38 years. It seated 1000 and featured the largest screen in the area, measuring 22x46 feet. Common General Cinema amenities included pushback seating and an art gallery in the lobby.

In 1971, Lakehurst Mall opened five minutes west; spawning Waukegan’s second General Cinema house on its perimeter, with five screens. In early-1980, Belvidere became a second-run house and its theater was twinned, seating was reduced by 100+. In 1988 Lakehurst lured away Belvidere Mall’s only department store, Montgomery Ward, and the mall shops quickly followed in exodus. Having just expanded Lakehurst to 12 screens, General Cinema walked away from Belvidere in September 1988. Through the first half of 1989, it appears Belvidere ran as an independent before finally going dark.

In late 1991, with Belvidere Mall nearly-empty and surviving as a flea market: the mall itself undertook renovating and reopening the Cinema. The twin theaters were halved again to create a four-screen “miniplex” seating around 200 each. Belvidere Cinema reopened as a bargain house with tickets for second-run features just $1.50. The Cinema and mall’s popularity rebounded during the 90s, reinventing itself as a discounter with mostly locally-owned retailers and services.

In 2002 the mall handed Cinema operations to the Village Theatres chain, bringing both Belvidere and Lakehurst into the same circuit again. It showed first-run features again very briefly, however the outcome was the same as before: after dropping to weekend-only shows, Village closed Belvidere by the end of 2003. A planned $100,000 renovation to the seating, sound, common areas and restrooms was never completed. The Cinema remained mothballed for 16 years, virtually turn-key and unchanged from its General Cinema aesthetic beyond paint and carpet.

Incidentally, Lakehurst Mall - which previously had all but decimated business for Belvidere Mall - closed in 2001 and was razed three years later. Itself, unable to compete with the 1991-opening of Gurnee Mills. Village Theatres' Lakehurst 12 fell into disrepair and shuttered in 2007; it, too, was razed and remains a vacant lot. With the Genesee Theatre serving as a performance venue, this left Belvidere as Waukegan’s only remaining movie theatre.

In 2019, Belvidere Mall embraced Waukegan’s growing arts movement to drive events and business to the mall. This led to me using the Cinema as a popup exhibit space for my photography. In 2021, it grew into a stewardship opportunity with monthly events run by local artists and curators. With some minor refurbishment and all the vintage aesthetics left intact: it currently functions as a proof of concept known as “Belvidere Cinema Gallery”, while we shop it to potential angel investors or business partners.

BCG is currently the only (known) DIY space between Chicago and Milwaukee featuring art exhibits, all-ages/all-genres concerts using Cinema I, and repertory/arthouse film screenings in Cinema II. We’re also open to rentals. Seating is currently 70 + standing room in Cinema I, and 120 in Cinema II. The other two theatres are not used. We have 2-3 shows a month, tied-in with the city of Waukegan’s monthly ArtWauk and special events in the mall.

All of our upcoming events and showtimes can be found on Facebook (Belvidere Cinema Gallery) and Twitter (@belviderecinema).

jonrev on November 13, 2023 at 10:04 am

Video tour via Yodeling Loon Retail:

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