McClurg Court Cinemas

330 E. Ohio Street,
Chicago, IL 60611

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Loews Cineplex

Firms: Solomon Cordwell Buenz & Associates

Previous Names: McClurg Court Theatre

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McClurg Court Cinemas

The McClurg Court Cinemas, which was last operated by the Loews Cineplex chain, was not by any stretch of the imagination anything architecturally stunning, or even very visually interesting.

It opened November 10, 1971, and its exterior appearance still evokes that era pretty clearly, though the interior has been modernized more than once since then. For its first couple years in operation, it was a reserved seating-only roadshow house. In Fall of 1987, the large 1,189 seat auditorium was triplexed, creating one large main screen, and two much smaller screens (carved out of the balcony space).

The McClurg Court’s Auditorium #1 was for years the best place in all Chicago to see a major blockbuster, special effects packed epics such as “Titanic” or “The Matrix”, when lines would snake down Ohio Street. It had clear fields of vision, THX sound, and a 70 mm equipped projection system.

The two smaller screens were not as impressive, but did have stadium-style seating, wide aisles and DTS sound. When a major studio film, especially an action or sci-fi spectacular, premiered in Chicago, from the mid-1970’s through the 1990’s, this was most often where it took place.

However, since the opening of AMC’s 21-screen River East megaplex just down the block in 2002, attendance at the aging triplex began to fall off (though it had already been to some extent for some time). It was during the summer of 2003 that Loews Cineplex made the sad announcement it would be closing the McClurg on September 11th (though it actually ended up shuttering it August 28th instead). With its closing, a chapter in Chicago’s cinema history ended, since the McClurg Court was in many ways the last movie palace screening first-run films still in operation.

For many Chicagoans who were too young to attend the old movie palaces that had closed before they were born, like the Granada, Uptown or Southtown, the McClurg, though not remotely as huge or ornate as the old time palaces, walking into the original auditorium with its massive screen and 1,000+ seats, especially when it was packed and there was an excited buzz in the room just before a long-awaited summer blockbuster was about to begin playing, was an experience I personally will always remember fondly.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 155 comments)

rivest266 on November 23, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Christmas Day 1987 grand opening ad for this cinema and Oakbrook in photo section

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on March 23, 2015 at 11:05 am

It’s interesting that in his post of Sep. 7, 2009 Cinemark Fan said, “I assume that the screens at 600 North Michigan might be gone by this time (I may be wrong though) And if that’s the case, the seating capacity at the River East alone won’t be enough to handle the volume of people who go see movies.”

Fortunately that hasn’t happened as AMC just completed some renovatios to the 600 North.

DavidZornig on December 8, 2015 at 7:42 pm

McClurg exterior in May 1999 at 0:29 & 1:10 through the end in the below clip courtesy of alex35mm, who posted it to the Old Orchard Theater page for it’s appearance as well.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on July 25, 2016 at 7:34 am

I used to work across the aisle from that guy in the Darth Maul costume seen at 2:33. He was quite proud of it. Had Star Wars stuff all over his work area. Wonder what ever happened to him.

rivest266 on November 13, 2016 at 8:40 am

This opened on November 10th, 1971. Its grand opening ad can be found in the photo section.

bhusar on January 8, 2018 at 9:50 am

I saw Oliver Stone’s Born On The Fourth Of July at McClurg Court the first week of January 1990 in 70mm. The THX logo blew me away. It was the THX Cimaron trailer. Seeing this film, this epic film in 70mm at this theater left such an impression on me that I never forgot it. I went back for Gettysberg in 93, True Lies in the Summer of 94, the restored 70mm presentation of Vertigo in 96, and The Thin Red Line. Miss that theater so much.

bhusar on August 12, 2018 at 10:50 pm

Does anyone have anymore photos of the interior of theater one? Would love to see more photos of it, also the corridor, I seem to remember the THX logo outside the entrance as well as a diagram of what THX and the theater is.

gxceb0t on April 5, 2021 at 4:31 pm

I remember seeing Titanic there. Didn’t appreciate the theater at the time.

MSC77 on December 25, 2021 at 6:18 pm

Here’s a new 4-page 50th anniversary FIDDLER ON THE ROOF retrospective featuring a roadshow playdate chronology and historian Q&A. McClurg Court’s 57-week run is mentioned in the piece.

DavidZornig on December 18, 2022 at 9:38 am

1987 print ad added to gallery & description courtesy Tim O'Neill.

35 years ago today, the McClurg Court Theatre in Chicago reopened as the McClurg Court Cinemas. Cineplex Odeon took over the original 1200-seat theatre one year earlier and chopped it up into 3 auditoriums. The original main floor portion became Theatre 1; with THX Sound and 70mm. The upper area of the original auditorium (commonly known as “stadium seating” nowadays) was divided into two small auditoriums with a wall constructed down the middle. The original projection booth was utilized for the two small auditoriums. A new booth was constructed down below for the big 800-seat auditorium. A half-way decent dividing project; but nothing like the original McClurg Court that opened in 1971. The new McClurg Court lasted for 16 years, until a 21-screen AMC Theatre complex opened one block south in 2002. The McClurg Court Cinemas closed forever in August 2003. The space got gutted and there is a grocery store inside it today.

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