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Park Ridge’s antique Pickwick Theatre plans to near in Janu…

For Park Ridge’s iconic Pickwick Theatre, the general credit will roll in January after nearly a century of website hosting moviegoers, its proprietor instructed Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press Tuesday.

Co-owner Dino Vlahakis, 63, stated his family members is remaining the antique film theater, which has been dropping cash nearly constantly because the onset of the pandemic; then again, they hope a “knight in shining armor” will take over the operation.

The Vlahakis family members has owned the 900-seat theater since 1967. It has stood in Park Ridge since 1928 after opening as a vaudeville space, and it used to be added to the Nationwide Sign up of Historical Puts in 1975, in step with knowledge from the Park Ridge Historical past Middle.

These days, Vlahakis stated, the plan is for the Pickwick to turn its ultimate film Jan. 8. He’s pondering the image will likely be “Long gone With the Wind.”

“We don’t need it to near, and possibly anyone will see this as a golden alternative for them,” Vlahakis stated. “However (co-owner) Dave (Loomos) and I simply can’t do it anymore. I’m on the age once I need to move to mattress at 10 o’clock at night time.”

Vlahakis stated he plans to deal with possession of the development, which has 24 different tenants.

But it surely’s gotten more difficult and more difficult to make a monetary move of working the theater, he stated. A few of this is because of fewer motion pictures being to be had to turn in theaters.

“Films have fallen off,” Vlahakis stated. “For instance, at Christmas time, we’d (traditionally) have 10 or 11 motion pictures to select from. This 12 months, we handiest have 5 motion pictures like that you’ll be able to display within the theater.”

With fewer motion pictures to turn, the theater loses out on alternatives to carry regulars again extra ceaselessly, that means it sells fewer tickets.

“Within the olden days, in case you had a bomb, no less than you had additionally a large hit since you would open…new motion pictures each and every week,” he added.

The fad towards chain film theaters hasn’t helped both, he stated.

“After I opened the industry in 1981, 50% of the film theaters had been impartial theater homeowners after which 50% had been chains,” he stated. “As of late it’s 95% chains and 5% impartial film theaters.”

Walls and the ceiling inside the lobby of the Pickwick Theatre, Dec. 6, 2022. The art deco theater was built in 1928.

That’s to not say that Vlahakis doesn’t assume it’s nonetheless imaginable to function an impartial film theater. However he stated it’ll take extra creativity than it used to, and a willingness to climate dry sessions.

Vlahakis’ father purchased the theater in 1967 along 3 different companions, he stated. Via 1972, his father used to be the only owner. He got to work on the Pickwick as an usher at 13, he stated, and would watch the target audience snort on the punchlines of comedies and soar on the scare issues of horror motion pictures.

Maureen Jones used to be within the target audience Sunday when Vlahakis introduced he deliberate to near the theater forward of a screening of the film “Polar Categorical.”

“I became to my husband as a result of we’ve been going there eternally,” Jones recalled. “I’m like, are you kidding me?”

Jones grew up in Park Ridge and stated she noticed her first-ever film on the Pickwick. She thinks it used to be “Pinocchio.”

She stated she used to be sorry to listen to the inside track however added that she understood the verdict from a monetary viewpoint.

“It’s disappointing, however we will’t all are living in a museum,” she stated. “We need to glance ahead.”

The Pickwick has loved many notable moments over its 94 years. It used to be able for its closeup when film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert filmed the intro to their tv display there. Filming for the Chicago Fire television show happened there over the summer season. Park Ridge Local Hillary Clinton visited and spoke in 2019, and the film space runs a classic film series curated by means of Matthew Hoffman.

But even so the principle theater within the Artwork Deco development, the Pickwick’s 4 smaller film theaters would additionally shut, co-owner Dave Loomos showed.

Vlahakis credited group beef up from the citizens of Park Ridge and neighboring suburbs with maintaining the Pickwick for just about a century.

“They nonetheless beef up the theater — I feel they love that it’s an impartial, family-run theater,” he stated. “The rationale we’ve survived is on account of the city of Park Ridge and the encircling spaces.”


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