It’s been more than a decade since the last mainstream movie theater closed in The Loop. Since then, people who live in the neighborhood have had to go to Streeterville, North Michigan Avenue, or more recently, the South Loop for their filmed entertainment.
Now after years of promises and anticipation it seems that the dream of big-screen Dolby-enhanced Hollywood fare is finally about to debut at Block 37. How can we tell? Follow the paperwork, young Padawan.
Permit issued for signs: STATE ST. – EAST ELEVATION: LED ILLUMINATED INTERIOR WINDOW SIGN “AMC”
That’s part of the permit for AMC Theaters to put up its signs at Block 37. Or at least we hope it is, because the other option is that they’re going to start selling 1970s glass bubble cars at the vertical shopping mall. But let’s hope that’s not the case.
It’s not exactly a hardship for Loopers to bus it to the Grand Avenue theater. The wider selection of films in Streeterville makes the walk worth the effort. And hoofing it up the Roosevelt Road viaduct from the Red Line station is rewarded by the Ikon chain’s über-comfy seating and over-the-top customer service. But still, with tens of thousands of people living in the Loop now, it’s past time for Chicago’s Theater District to have a movie theater.
Yes, there are films screened at the Art Institute’s Gene Siskel Film Center, and more occasionally at the Cultural Center. But those aren’t exactly the places where I can zone out to Police Academy 14: On the Farce, or cry empathetically into a $12 popcorn while Renée Zellweger once again learns to come out of her shell while falling in love with the wrong man, or where someone can develop a deep emotional attachment to George Clooney’s perfectly tanned chin cleft while wondering how he manages to shave that thing.
There will still be plenty of art films left for the art school to show across the street. But what’s happening at Block 37 is for the unwashed masses. And we’re just happy the masses, regardless of their hygiene, are returning to the Loop.