Interior of AMC 12 Theatre

Gary Jacobson had to be there on Day One.

Jacobson was also there on Day Last for the old Cinemark Theater on Maple Avenue.

He ran the place.

So Jacobson, who was theater manager when the corporate parent closed the doors in February, 2021, returned on Wedneday, as one of the first to check out the new movie house, now run by AMC.

Former manager Gary Jacobson came to check out the new place, and see a movie.

Jacobson told Evanston Now that he thought the Cinemark would make it, even through COVID.

“I thought we were immune due to all the screens,” he said.

Cinemark had 18 theaters in the building. AMC has downsized that to 12, with other portions of the structure going for different entertainment and recreation-related uses in the revitalizing Church Street Plaza.

One of the 12 new theaters.

The first film at the AMC filled the screen at 4 p.m.

The crowd was not huge. Wednesday afternoons are not prime time for movie-going. A lot more people are expected over the weekend, especially to see the Black Panther sequel, “Wakanda Forever.”

Dallas Yanez came over on his skateboard to buy tickets for Saturday.

A serious film fan, Yanez was a Cinemark regular, and the shutdown “disrupted everything.”

Now, however, “I just got my life back,” he added.

Having a theater will also help downtown get some life back. Movie-goers may also be shoppers and restaurant-diners.

Ava Greenwall, a Northwestern professor, stopped by to get weekend tickets for 30 students.

“This is much better” than driving to the movies somewhere else, she noted. “We can walk over.”

15-year-old Lucas McCarey, his dad Tom, and mom Nicole was also first-day visitors.

Tom and Lucas McCarey at the downtown AMC 12.

“We used to come here all the time before they closed it down,” Lucas explained.

He and his family loved the “real-buttered popcorn,” and besides getting tickets for another day, they wanted to make sure the popcorn was back.

While the concession stand is still being renovated, a small, temporary stand has been installed, complete with exactly what Lucas and his family were hoping for.

Lights, Camera, Popcorn!

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Join the Conversation


  1. Sadly I heard beautiful lounge area will now be a rock climbing area for kids. the lounge with live music and great atmosphere was a great asset. They should have kept it. People if all ages lived that lounge. Shame

  2. Hi Jane Doe. The new ownership is trying to improve the property to appeal to all ages. Before it was mostly oriented toward older adults. In the near future it will serve pre-k to 100 + Looking forward to it. The former six screen cinearts, the lounge/bar, and the upstairs of Urban Outfitters is being converted to a kids trampoline experience called Sky Zone. The former space was a money loser for the Cinemark Theaters.

  3. I don’t ever recall the lounge area being very successful. Glad to see the theater back and the space repurposed for multi-generational appeal.

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *