Lakehurst Cinema 12

601 Lakehurst Road,
Waukegan, IL 60085

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: General Cinema Corp., Village Theatres

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Lakehurst Cinema 12

The Lakehurst Cinema, next to the now-demolished Lakehurst Mall, opened on February 15, 1974 as a triplex, and was increased to five screens in 1984. In July 1987 it had 12 screens. The theatre was originally opened by General Cinema, which closed it in 2001. It sat abandoned for a year and a half before Village Theatres re-opened it.

The Lakehurst Cinema was closed on January 7, 2007 and the building demolished in July and August 2007. It will be replaced on the site by a hotel.

Contributed by Aaron wood

Recent comments (view all 26 comments)

bigred on January 24, 2007 at 4:19 am

I can’t believe they were still using reel to reel on this theater. It wasn’t uncommon for General Cinema’s union to run all of the theaters by themself. All GC had union until late'95 when the smaller units had the managers start running the booth part of the time after they brought in a former vp from AMC. At the Mall of America 14 they had 1 projectionist run both sides rather than one on each side.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on July 21, 2007 at 1:53 pm

The description above implies that this place expanded to 12 screens when it was operated by Village Theatres. Is this true?

CinemarkFan on September 2, 2007 at 7:33 pm

No, it was expanded to 12 screens in 1987 by General Cinema.

CinemaAssociatesTheatres on September 1, 2008 at 5:37 pm

Actually, in response to Aaron Wood’s comment, the largest screen in the northern suburbs is at the Regal Cinemas Lincolnshire IMAX Theatre… it’s 5-stories tall and 89-feet wide.

Klunke on October 25, 2008 at 11:33 pm

I was an Assistant Manager of this Theatre from June 1989 to January 1992. I would love to reconnect with anyone I worked with there.

LAlers on September 2, 2009 at 10:57 pm

Hey there KLUNKE!!! I remember you back then those were great times there and I stayed til 1997. You’ll remember me as Janssen’s Adm Asst.

LAlers on September 2, 2009 at 11:04 pm

KerryL…the name doesnt sound familiar?

50sSNIPES on July 5, 2022 at 3:18 pm

Opened in May 1974.

50sSNIPES on November 30, 2022 at 4:41 pm

Expanded to 12 screens in July 1987 with a seating capacity of 3,200.

jonrev on September 20, 2023 at 4:55 pm

According to a Lake County News-Sun article dated December 17, 2003: an IMAX expansion was once in the works for Lakehurst 12.

Lakehurst Cinema opens path to add IMAX theater

December 17, 2003 | Dan Moran

The history of the Eisenhower Interstate System tells us that communities were made and broken by the decision to put exits in some places but not in others. And, as time went on, even the villages lucky enough to get an exit had to compete with those who could put up the holy trinity on their blue signs: food, gas, lodging.

Well, don’t look now, but Waukegan – which already informs Tri-State motorists about their OTB – is on the verge of getting another bragging point for its exit sign: IMAX.

For the locals, this has to come as good news in a consumer world where bigger is increasingly perceived as better. Where it was once a sign of status to have a multiplex, the next step could be to have not only a lot of screens but also a really big one.

“The IMAX would nuzzle up nicely to the 12-screen theater,” said Bruce A. Fogelson of Chicago-based Paramount Homes, which is partnering with the Lakehurst Entertainment Corp. in pursuing an IMAX wing for the venerable Lakehurst Cinema – a true granddaddy of American multiplexes.

According to Fogelson, the current thinking in Hollywood is that IMAX screens are no longer considered a breed apart from the traditional moviegoing experience. Proof of this was witnessed last month, when The Matrix Revolutions was simultaneously unleashed on both IMAX and traditional screens.

Prior to that, mainstream films made it to IMAX only after a tasteful cooling-off period, big-ticket movies that included Star Wars Episode II and The Matrix Reloaded. Fogelson said this was because IMAX has always been thought of as “a different market, a different marketing draw from the (traditional) screen. But they complement each other, so now we’re seeing major motion pictures make the leap right into IMAXes.

“Seeing something on an IMAX screen enhances the moviegoing experience. The market is going in both directions,” he added. “People want to see something bigger than life before they buy the DVD and end up watching in on their 15-inch screen.”

So Waukegan, like any good consumer, apparently wants to run out to Best Buy and get one of them new IMAXes. Preliminary plans for a general makeover of the property around Lakehurst Cinema sailed through the City Council Monday night, though the plans didn’t specifically detail construction of an IMAX.

“The way things work for a developer is you get an idea, then you get permission and then you get going,” Fogelson said. “We have the permission (to resubdivide the land), and now we can get going, but it’s too soon to say when we’ll get there.”

If and when this happens, the Lake County movie landscape will continue an evolution that has seen a number of memorable events in the generation after single-screen movie palaces went the way of the Chevy Bel Air.

It was 10 years ago this month that Marcus Gurnee Cinema opened with 10 now-modest screens. By 1995, Gurnee upped the ante to 14 screens and tacked on six more just a year later – expansions that included the county’s first stadium seating.

Since then, Regal has swooped in with an 18-screen outlet in Round Lake Beach and a 20-screener in Lincolnshire, which also boasted the county’s first general-admission IMAX (unlike the one at Six Flags Great America, which arrived nearly 20 years earlier but requires 40 bucks just to get near it).

All the while, the Lakehurst Cinema sat on Waukegan Road and became something of an afterthought as the Naval Base cabs went to Gurnee Mills and the neighboring shopping mall went to seed. But Fogelson pointed out, with accuracy, that Lakehurst Cinema was once the largest multiplex in the nation. Originally a three-screener when it opened in 1974, the theater added five more in 1984 and another seven in 1987, making it the largest collection of movie screens under a single roof. Briefly, anyway.

But that was then, as they say, and IMAX is now. We’ll see if Waukegan will join that big new world sooner rather than later.

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