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The theater area at Facets
Photograph: Courtesy of FACETS

The 14 best movie theaters in Chicago

From gorgeous historic theaters to bougie multiplexes.

Erin Yarnall
Written by
Kris Vire
Contributor
Erin Yarnall
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Over the years, Chicago has served as the backdrop for films like The Dark KnightThe Blues Brothers and just about every movie made by John Hughes. While it’s always thrilling to see a movie being filmed, it’s just as fun to see the finished product put together at the movie theater. Thankfully, the city’s home to a wide array of great theaters, from multiplexes with massive recliner seats and in-theater dining service to art houses where you can catch up on all of the latest indies or catch an international flick at one of the city’s film festivals. And, like any respectable Chicago institution, many of them come stocked with a long list of beer and cocktail options. No matter what movie you want to catch, you’ll find the perfect place to watch among our list of the best movie theaters in Chicago. 

RECOMMENDED: Where to find cheap movie tickets in Chicago

The best movie theaters in Chicago

  • Movie theaters
  • Independent
  • Wrigleyville

For movie lovers who aren’t out to see the latest Hollywood blockbusters, there's no better theater than the Music Box, a two-screen cinema that shows the latest art-house films and documentaries. The theater itself is gorgeous, and regularly hosts director Q&As as well as weekly midnight screenings of cult classics. Another plus? The concession stand here tops its popcorn with real butter.

  • Movie theaters
  • Independent
  • Loop

Named in honor of the late Chicago film critic, this theater is operated by the School of the Art Institute and showcases a wide range of movies, including indies, foreign films and celebrated classics. The theater is also the home of several different international film festivals, including the Chicago Palestine Festival and the Festival of Films from Iran.

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  • Movie theaters
  • Independent
  • Logan Square

This renovated theater in the heart of Logan Square features an upgraded sound system, new screens and projectors, and perhaps best of all, a lobby bar and lounge that hosts events like live comedy and movie trivia. You'll find a diverse mix of second run studio movies and indie flicks in addition to a robust lineup of midnight screenings each weekend.

  • Movie theaters
  • Independent
  • Hyde Park

Founded more than 80 years ago, the University of Chicago's single-screen Doc Films theater is on record as the longest continuously running student film society in the country. While it began featuring documentaries, hence the name, the modern screening schedule showcases classic films from a variety of genres, appealing to film aficionados as well as casual moviegoers.

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  • Movie theaters
  • Multiplex
  • Loop

A multiplex theater that meets the needs of the casual moviegoer as well those who want an upgraded cinematic experience, this South Loop spot also boasts a second floor lounge where you can grab a drink or a bite to eat before the show. If you're looking to splurge, get a VIP ticket and enjoy the latest blockbuster in a cozy balcony seat, where you can enjoy drinks and lounge food while watching the movie.

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  • Movie theaters
  • Independent
  • Lincoln Park
  • price 1 of 4

While Chicago has multiple art-house theaters, Facets is the place to go to find obscure indies that you won’t find anywhere else in the city. The Lincoln Park theater is the site of the annual Chicago International Children's Film Festival and also hosts Facets Multimedia, where movie buffs can rent obscure DVDs from around the world.

  • Movie theaters
  • Independent
  • Lincoln Square
  • price 1 of 4

This Lincoln Square neighborhood favorite reopened in December 2016 after extensive renovations and features first-run films on three screens. The revamped theater includes an attached restaurant and bar, Carbon Arc Bar & Board, with an impressive cocktail menu, 18 beers on tap and an extensive wine list—but if you’re more of a traditionalist, the theater sells its own gourmet popcorn tins.

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  • Movie theaters
  • Multiplex
  • Streeterville
  • price 2 of 4

River East 21 has become a thriving downtown film destination, playing host to the Chicago International Film Festival and a regular slate of advance screenings. With 21 screens available, many different titles can be shown at once, which gives moviegoers a good balance of huge blockbusters and art house fare.

  • Shopping
  • Arts, crafts & hobbies
  • Suburbs

You won’t find any reclining seats, or waiters serving you full meals, at the Pickwick Theatre in Park Ridge. What you will find is an art deco-themed movie palace that dates back nearly a century at the suburban theater that’s easily accessible through the CTA. In between catching the latest blockbusters and Hollywood hits the theater goes back to its historic roots and shows screenings of silent films like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

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  • Movie theaters
  • Multiplex
  • Loop

The newest Chicago location of the AMC multiplex chain, located on the fourth floor of the Block 37 shopping center, offers 11 screens and AMC's full dine-in menu, featuring everything from plant-based chicken tenders to sushi rolls. Five variations on milkshakes are balanced out by healthier options like grilled chicken sandwiches. You order from a console at your seat, and your freshly prepared food is delivered right to your plush leather recliner.

  • Movie theaters
  • Multiplex
  • Lincoln Park
  • price 2 of 4

Regal Webster Place 11 hides a revolutionary advance in movie-viewing technology: king-size reclining seats. It's especially useful considering Pequod's is just across the street—you'll probably need to lay down for a while after a few slices of deep-dish.

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  • Movie theaters
  • Chatham

Since opening in 1997, Cinema Chatham has been owned by a number of different companies, and has closed and reopened several times. After shuttering due to Covid-19, the South Side multiplex was purchased by Emagine Entertainment, and reopened in August 2021, showing the latest blockbusters to hit the silver screen.

  • Movie theaters
  • Multiplex
  • Rogers Park
  • price 1 of 4

If the $8.50 ticket price (even cheaper for seniors and students) at this Rogers Park theater doesn't grab your attention, then this certainly should: The theater sports a full bar and servers deliver drinks to your seat. Frankly, we'll go see just about any movie if there's a stiff cocktail involved.

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