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Landmark plans 7-screen arthouse in Chicago mall

Chicago's first dedicated indie/arthouse theater

Greenlighting its first construction project since being acquired by Dallas-based Silver Cinemas, Landmark Theatre Corp. announced Wednesday its plans for a seven-screen arthouse complex in Chicago.

The theater, located in the Lincoln Park/Lakeview area, is the first of several major metropolitan sites the specialized circuit plans to announce in coming weeks.

The Century Theatre, as it will be known, will be the Windy City’s first cinema built specifically to play American indie and foreign-language fare.

Landmark hopes the complex, tentatively set to open in spring ’99, will repeat the success of its 2-year-old Kendall Square nine-plex in Cambridge, Mass. That theater, now one of the country’s best-attended arthouses, has contributed significantly to the revival of specialized moviegoing in the Boston area.

Located on the fourth and fifth levels of an existing shopping center, the Century will feature stadium seating, wall-to-wall screens and digital sound.

Ironically, the mall itself is a converted movie palace. Landmark will preserve the former Diversey Theatre’s historic facade and restore its marquee.

‘Grow fast’

Landmark, which was acquired by Silver in April, plans to announce a number of new sites in the near future. “Our new owners want us to grow and to grow fast,” said Landmark’s recently appointed president, Bert Manzari. “We’re looking at every major metropolitan area.”

The circuit is also developing a multiscreen art cinema complex in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park.

Landmark, which operates 155 screens in 52 theaters, is the largest exhibitor of specialized films in North America. It already has locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Detroit, Dallas, Houston, Minneapolis, Seattle, Denver, Cleveland, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Sacramento and New Orleans.

Silver, whose total holdings now include 532 screens at 107 locations in 19 states, is the eleventh largest theatrical exhibitor in North America.