Suburban movie theaters to temporarily close again after 3 weeks of social distancing

Classic Cinemas, which shows films in Elmhurst, Elk Grove Village and other towns, says operating with reduced seating and few new movies is ‘unsustainable.’

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Every other row is taped off to facilitate social distancing at Classic Cinemas’ Elk Grove theater in Elk Grove Village.

Patrick Stickney

Suburban movie theaters in the Classic Cinemas chain, which reopened 11 days ago, will close again temporarily after the end of business on Thursday.

“Unfortunately, the lack of new movies and the extra costs have made our current business model unsustainable,” the company said in a statement Tuesday.

Classic Cinemas operates the York Theatre in Elmhurst, the Luxury 6 in North Riverside, the Charlestowne 18 in St. Charles, the Cinema 12 in Carpentersville, the Cinema 7 in Sandwich, the Elk Grove in Elk Grove Village, the Fox Lake in Fox Lake, the Paramount Theatre in Kankakee and the Woodstock in Woodstock, as well as locations in Beloit, Wisconsin, and Freeport.

“We are in this for the long term,” the statement said, “so we look forward to welcoming you back just as soon as the outlook improves and new movies are released.” 

After the state’s measures to slow COVID-19 forced all Chicago area theaters to close in mid-March, Classic Cinemas was the first company to tiptoe back into the indoor movie business starting June 26. Its theaters complied with a new state regulation limiting audiences to no more than 50 people or 50% capacity per auditorium (whichever is fewer).

The company also required masks on patrons (except when seated) and increased cleaning between showtimes.

Few theaters followed its lead in reopening, except for the Music Box Theatre in Lake View, which began small outdoor screenings on June 26 and now is showing films at its two indoor auditoriums.

In addition, several outdoor drive-in movie theaters old and new have been operating in and around Chicago for the last few weeks.

Recent big-ticket movie openings have been taking place on streaming services, including “Hamilton” on Disney+ and this week’s Tom Hanks vehicle “Greyhound” on Apple TV+. The next major release intended for theaters is Russell Crowe’s “Unhinged” on July 31.

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