Classic Cinemas, the Downers Grove-based chain that operates 15 movie theater complexes including the Lake Theater in Oak Park, announced that its screens will remain dark into December due to a continuing dearth of new film releases.

Chris Johnson, CEO of Classic Cinemas, told Wednesday Journal that the company planned to reopen theater doors on Nov. 13 with the anticipated release of the James Bond film “No Time to Die,” starring Daniel Craig, the day before Thanksgiving.

Late last week, however, the film’s producer and studio announced they were postponing the film’s premiere until April 2, 2021. A few days later, Classic Cinemas announced on Facebook that its theaters would remain closed.

However, the theater chain held out hope that the end of the year could still be salvaged.

“We need enough new movies to play week to week in order to sustain our business,” the company’s Oct. 6 Facebook post stated. “We hope to see you in December if ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ holds to their Christmas release date!”

Johnson said that the continued closure of movie theaters in New York was responsible for Hollywood delaying new releases.

“It sounds so simple, but with 48 states open and New York closed, it’s what’s messed everything up,” Johnson said. “Until New York opens, I don’t see a lot of studios keeping their release dates.”

All of Classic Cinemas’ movie theaters have been closed since July 9 due to the lack of new films. The chain had reopened most of its theaters on June 26 after a three-month closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Due to ongoing road and sidewalk construction in downtown Oak Park, The Lake Theater did not reopen at that time. It’s been closed since March 16.

The chain reopened by showing some old favorites and recent hits, but without new films to show, it did not make financial sense to keep the doors open for long.

“As nostalgic as our Classic Cinemas name is, our lifeblood is new movies,” Johnson said at the time.

Bob Uphues

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