Cinema Theater

151 E. Chicago Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60611

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Showing 1 - 25 of 48 comments

FeverDog on February 9, 2023 at 10:15 pm

Came to see if this was the theater Roger Ebert mentions in his review for “The Devils” and check it out, here’s a photo of the marquee with that movie title. How about that.

DavidZornig on August 30, 2021 at 10:51 pm

Flickr image where you can zoom into the Cinema Theater marquee.

rivest266 on January 13, 2018 at 1:23 pm

Grand opening ad in the photo section.

DavidZornig on April 9, 2017 at 10:13 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.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on September 13, 2016 at 6:33 am

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

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on November 20, 2013 at 11:56 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.

DavidZornig on November 20, 2013 at 8:54 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 September 13, 2011 at 2:46 am

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.

millege1 on February 24, 2011 at 4:43 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?

dctrig on October 14, 2010 at 4:11 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.

DavidZornig on September 20, 2010 at 4:47 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.

GFeret on September 20, 2010 at 3:03 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?

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on September 13, 2010 at 6:13 pm

You can’t go out without a better Actor.Burt Lancaster was a great actor.At least it wasn’t “Shaft Part III”.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on September 13, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Today, September 13, is a sad anniversary. It was on this date in 1981, the Cinema Theatre showed its last picture show: ATLANTIC CITY with Burt Lancaster and Susan Sarandon. The theatre was torn down about 3 days later. As a matter of fact, all the theatres that were in operation around that area at the time are all gone. I still miss the Cinema Theatre. It was my first movie theatre gig.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on September 6, 2010 at 6:40 pm

OeOe,You GOT us all Beat.

OeOeO on September 6, 2010 at 2:49 pm

The most unfortunate pairing I ever saw was at a Twin in a Joliet shopping center in 1987. One was an Eddie Murphy movie, the other , a Barbra Streisand flick. The Marquee read : RAW NUTS.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on May 21, 2010 at 7:05 pm

You gotta be kidding Tim. I think that might just top mine. At least both of mine were R- rated.

RickB on May 21, 2010 at 7:04 pm

One I watched at the Adelphi: TAXI DRIVER and KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on May 21, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Back in the summer of 1977, I went to the Colony Theatre to watch MURDER BY DEATH and TAXI DRIVER.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on May 21, 2010 at 5:57 pm

Most screwed up DOUBLE FEATURE.12-17-71.You can’t make this up.

“SHAFT” and “WHERE’S POPPA?”. Someone plez try and top that one.

TLSLOEWS on May 21, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Interesting name for a theatre.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on December 26, 2009 at 4:58 am

Today, December 26, 2009, is the 80th Anniversary of the opening of the Cinema Theatre. The Cinema lasted only 52 years. I wasn’t there opening day, but I was working there on it’s last night in 1981. I remember on the last day, Oscar Brotman had a special closing day offer: If you walked up to the box-office and said: “Wally Phillips is a nut” you got in for free. Oscar Brotman (1915-1994). I heard he was difficult, not easy to work for, but what a showman. What an era. It’s weird: All the theatres that were operating on the Near North Side of Chicago back then are all gone now. It was such a wonderful time.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on November 4, 2009 at 3:14 pm

Cinema Mary, I used to work at the Cinema. You took pictures of us and the theatre itself on it’s last day. If you still have them will you please email them to me at I would be very grateful. Thank you so much.—Tim O'Neill

JRS40 on November 3, 2009 at 1:18 pm

Cinemark – CUTTERS WAY did play at the Biograph so you should be able to find it on microfilm as Tim suggested.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on October 30, 2009 at 2:37 am

CF I remember that title. I can’t remember where it played. It did not play at the Cinema when I was there. Maybe it was at Biograph. The best thing to do is go downtown to the Harold Washington Library 3rd floor microfilm room and check out Chicago newspaper ads from around March 1981 and beyond. I seem to recall Gene Siskel admiring this movie. Also, check out Chicago Tribune archives, maybe there’s a Siskel review. He usually mentioned the name of a theatre whenever a small movie played in town.