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Navy Pier
Photograph: Courtesy Navy Pier

The Navy Pier IMAX Theater has closed permanently

One of Chicago's largest movie screens is going dark.

By
Zach Long
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Hoping to see a couple of summer blockbusters on a gigantic screen once you're fully vaccinated? Sadly, you won't be able to see gigantic superheroes or zombies on the Navy Pier IMAX screen. The Chicago Tribune was the first to report that operator AMC has permanently shuttered its IMAX theater on Navy Pier, confirmed by a short statement on the theater's website.

The closure of the IMAX theater comes as AMC continues to struggle financially in the wake of the pandemic—a recently Los Angeles Times story stated that the chain lost $4.6 billion in 2020, largely due to the fact that theaters closed in response to lockdowns around the globe. As film studios continue to push back the release of blockbuster films and some theatrical releases move to streaming platforms like HBO Max and Disney+, there are fewer reasons for the average person to go to a movie theater.

The Navy Pier IMAX screen originally opened in 1995, debuting a six-story-tall, 60-foot by 80-foot screen in a dramatically sloped auditorium that accommodated 395 people. There are still IMAX-branded theaters in and around Chicago, most notably at Regal City North near Logan Square and the AMC Showplace Village Crossing 14 in Skokie, but these screens aren't quite as large as the one housed in Navy Pier.

It's unclear whether or not another operator will step in to revive Navy Pier's IMAX screen or if the space will be gutted and used for an entirely different purpose. In any event, you probably won't be able to go to Navy Pier and witness a 60-foot tall LeBron James dunking when Space Jam: A New Legacy debuts this summer.

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