Where's the best theater in the suburbs?

Where's the best theater in the suburbs?

Posted by Sean Stangland on Thu, 05/01/2008 - 19:42

The summer movie season begins tonight as "Iron Man" rockets across the big screen beginning at 8 p.m. Thanks to my rear driver's-side wheel coming off of my car -- and me locking my keys inside when the tow truck came -- I won't be able to see it until Saturday, I'm guessing, which gives me time to ponder where I should see it.

Ten summers ago, everyone in the Northwest suburbs knew exactly where to go when a big movie came out: Woodfield 1&2.

Opening night of "Independence Day"
at Woodfield 1&2 was just about the
most fun I've ever had at the movies.

Seeing a movie at Woodfield 1&2 was an experience. The screens were gigantic, and the auditoriums were even bigger (they must have seated a thousand people). Most of the great moviegoing experiences of my youth happened there, from an afternoon trek with Dad to see "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," to that Tuesday night sneak-peek of "Independence Day" where the entire crowd cheered and applauded throughout the film. The bigger the movie, the rowdier the crowd -- and that was a good thing, because the people there were actually excited about the movie. Nowadays, it seems like everyone in the theater is more interested in talking on their cell phones and flirting with girls, which would be fine if I wasn't trying to watch a movie.

One of my favorite memories from the old giants came in July 1996, when the trailer for "Star Trek: First Contact" ran ahead of "Independence Day." When the trailer ended, and the credits flashed on the screen, someone at the back of the auditorium bellowed, "STAR TREK BLOWS!" The ensuing laughter set the tone for the evening, even if I didn't agree with the sentiment. (Although I do now...)

The Woodies, as our friend Dann Gire affectionately called them, met the wrecking ball in the winter of 1999, just a few months ahead of the premiere of "The Phantom Menace." The AMC 30 in South Barrington has since become my go-to facility, as long as you get a seat in one of the big auditoriums up front. But even the most exciting of midnight premieres there ("X2: X-Men United" comes to mind) don't compare to seeing the "Star Wars" special edition at the Woodies.

Where are your moviegoing "destinations" in the suburbs?

(A sad footnote: The last movie I saw at the Woodies was the execrable 1998 remake of "Godzilla." When it was over, half the crowd was sleeping.)

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