City Within A City

Chicago Tribune

Marina Cinemas

Marina Cinemas was a triplex movie theater at Marina City in the 1970s. Owned by United Artists, it opened on September 25, 1970 with “The Hawaiians,” “Hello, Dolly!” and “M*A*S*H.” It closed in 1977 with “Rocky” and “Young Frankenstein.”

According to a 1970 newspaper ad, UA Marina Cinemas were Chicago’s first mini-cinemas. “A dramatic new concept in comfort and convenience in motion picture entertainment. Three separate, intimate theaters – each one offering the ultimate in sight and sound. Attendant parking (at reduced rates), cocktail lounges, restaurants, shopping, bowling alley, ice skating rink – all within the Marina City complex.”

A Chicago Tribune article described the three theaters as “Chicago’s first fully automated movie theaters,” seating 296, 198, and 168 people, respectively.

(Left) Newspaper ad on page 20 of Chicago Tribune for Friday, September 25, 1970.

1966 map of Marina Cinemas

In September 1976, one of the theaters was closed because the projectionist union demanded one projectionist per screen. Marina Cinemas was not profitable and closed in May 1977, despite UA having a lease until 1980.

The theaters were located beneath television studios for WFLD, Channel 32. Near the lobby of the theater was Tower Gallery, a small art gallery.

(Left) 1966 map shows Marina Cinemas in the northeast corner of the lower commercial level. Entry was from Dearborn Street (at left) or escalators (upper right) from the plaza level. “14” marks the spot of a “Teleview Teller,” the 1960s version of an ATM. South of Marina City Liquors were Viennese Coffee Shop and Ship’s Bar.

Diagram of Marina Cinemas

(Left) An artist sketch of Marina Cinemas shows the upper level where projectionists worked.

(Below left) Signs on Dearborn Street outside Marina Cinemas in 1971. (Below right) Today, this space is home to House of Blues, seen here from across Dearborn Street.

Marina Cinemas Photo by Steven Dahlman