New releases get an old-fashioned treatment at McHenry Outdoor Theater, a 1950s-style drive-in screening two back-to-back movies every night. With a special focus on family films, the starlit screen shines across comforts including a concession stand vending burgers, brats, pizza, and hot dogs, and a dog-friendly policy to ensure everyone has someone cuddly to grab during the scary parts. While the story unfolds on screen, the theater pumps the sound through complimentary radios, and approximately half the viewing spots are equipped with vintage speakers that complete the timeless slice of Americana. Besides new releases, which are regularly updated every two weeks, the theater might show anything from golden oldies to alternative comedies to classic blockbusters.
Beneath the night sky's smattering of stars, Cascade Drive-In projects double features of the latest first-run films. Customers tune car radios to 88.5 FM or attach celebrity impersonators to their car windows to hear audio synchronized to the narratives unfurling onscreen. Throughout the evening, moviegoers can chow down on Cascade Drive-In's concessions or dump their own charcoal into the theater's onsite grill to simmer feasts for friends gathered in the picnic area.
At the dine-in movie theater Star Cinema Grill, concession stands are obsolete. By pressing a button, guests signal a server and are able to order restaurant-style without disrupting their viewing experience or screaming at an usher for a lobster bib. From angus sliders to ice-cream floats, Star Cinema Grill's menu appeases all ages with its gourmet-pub cuisine served amidst the glow of screenings and first-run film releases.
At the historic Highland Park Theatre, families and film buffs happily munch handfuls of fresh popcorn as spine-tingling thrillers, uproarious comedies, and rich, moving dramas play out on the big screen. The venerable North Shore movie house dates back to 1925, when it operated as the 1,200-seat Alcyon Theatre, which had a single screen that showed silent footage of cowboys racing on horseback, swashbucklers crossing swords, and complex romance plots communicated through drawn-out games of Pictionary. Today, powerful sound systems in the building's four theaters broadcast the dialogue of crowd-pleasing Hollywood blockbusters, as well as critically acclaimed independent films and imported foreign masterpieces.
“3D you see, 4D you feel, 5D you move.” This apt description in the video on PIX 5D Cinema’s website only hints at the multidimensional surface of the experience at the Midwest’s first 5-D theater. Each showing includes two short films that spring from the screen, thrusting 3-D-glasses-wearing viewers into the action via moving seats and special effects, which range from snow to fog to an actor’s tears when they flub a line. In addition to regular showings throughout the week, the cinema offers party packages for birthdays and private events.
Pickwick Theatre, home to one of the Chicago area’s largest theaters, showcases the latest Hollywood blockbusters inside a historic, registered-landmark building. Patrons flood their visual and aural receptors with the theater’s current list of films displayed on one of three screens, including an expansive main auditorium that seats 1,000 people or mannequins comically brought to life. Popcorn and soda keep bodily hungers sated throughout films' airtime and prevent stomach growls from interrupting key dialogue.