The 1980s and 1990s were the heyday of movie theaters in Schaumburg Township.  At one time or another there were seven movie theaters in operation with most of them located on the outer boundaries of the township.  The first one, though, was smack dab in the middle of the township in the Golf Rose Shopping Center on Roselle Road between Golf and Higgins.  Having the neatest name of all, it was called the Thunderbird.

The Thunderbird opened October 21, 1966 with 1200 seats.  It had a 60-foot screen, 6-track sound and a courtyard lounge whose decor changed with the seasons.  The theater lasted under that name until 1977.  The Century opened in 1978 with three screens.  The original theater was split in half and a third screen was added on.  Later, the third screen was also split so that the theater held four screens.  By 1986, the Century was surrounded by newer, larger theaters in the township and was forced to cut their prices and do business as a second-run theater.  That experiment lasted a month and the theater was closed in November by its parent company, Essaness.

Schaumburg really hit the jackpot when Plitt Theaters opened Woodfield Cinemas 1 and 2 on July 30, 1971, two months before Woodfield Mall opened.   The opening shows were Scandalous John and A New Leaf.  (Remember those hits?  Me neither!)  Cinema 1 sat up to 1075 people in comfortable rocking chairs and was a wonderful place to view blockbusters like Star Wars, Rocky and Twister.  Both theaters had huge screens with 70 mm film features and Dolby stereo sound.  Cinemas 3 and 4 followed eight years later in 1979 with less comfortable chairs and no 70 mm film features but, still, with the capability of seating many theater goers.   In total, the theaters had 2875 seats.  All four theaters came down in the late 1990s.  Woodfield 3 and 4 were torn down on July 10, 1998.  Woodfield 1 and 2 closed February 19, 1999 and were demolished shortly thereafter.  They were replaced by free-standing strip malls and/or stores.

In addition to the outdoor theaters, Woodfield Mall also had a theater in the mall called Woodfield Mall Cinemas.  Owned by Cineplex Odeon, this theater replaced a skating rink and opened in 1985 as a five screen theater.   They ran first-run movies for ten years and switched to second-run films in 1995.  This theater closed in 2000 and was replaced by a theme restaurant called Mars 2112.  It is now the home of the Improv Comedy Club.

The third theater built in the township was in the far southwest area in the village of Hanover Park.  It was the Tradewinds Cinemas I and II.  They were built as twin theaters in 1973 as part of the Classic Cinemas chain and closed sometime between 2002 and 2005.  The Tradewinds Shopping Center itself was demolished in February 2006.

Do you have fond memories of these wonderful, old theaters?  What favorite movies did you see?  Were you one of those who saw Star Wars multiple times at Woodfield 1?  Be sure and share your memories–and check for next week’s blog posting on the rest of Schaumburg Township’s theaters.

(You will notice there is no photo of these theaters.  The library does not own one!  Can you help us out?  If so, please respond in the Comments.  It would be much appreciated.)

[Information used in this posting was gathered from cinematreasures.org and the Daily Herald.]

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library


  1. Dan Says:

    I have a some pictures of the Tradewinds theater after it closed, right before the demolition.

    Can’t wait to hear more about the other theaters– esp. Barrington Square.

    • jrozek Says:

      I’d love to have scans of your photos for inclusion in our Digital Archive. If you could contact me at jrozek@stdl.org, we could talk about it. In the meantime, glad you’re enjoying the blog!

  2. Betsy Says:

    There were also multiple movie theatres at One Schaumburg Place which I believe opened in 1992. I don’t recall when the theatres closed, or for that matter, when One Schaumburg Place was re-developed to the current Streets of Woodfield, which of course, also has multiple theatres. These are in a different location from the original One Schaumburg Place theatres, however.

  3. Kevin Says:

    I moved away from this area back in November ’78 to Arizona. Was back on business this week and had an evening to check out my old stomping grounds… Wow have things changed!

    I lived up in Arlington Heights and worked part-time at Sears-Woodfield in ’77-78 while attending my last year of H.S. (Buffalo Grove H.S.) and first year at Harper College. I have very fond memories of that time and the numerous dates I took there and the fun we had watching films there!

    Among movies I saw there: Saturday Night Fever, FM, Grease, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, A Bridge Too Far, Flesh Gordon(lousy), Breakheart Pass, The Deep, The Goodbye Girl, Smokey and the Bandit and Animal House.

    I always pined for warm weather during our cold Chicago area winters and the movie “FM” set in the OC/LAX area sealed any doubts I had about following my warm weather dream of moving out West. Packed all my stuff in my ’72 Plymouth Fury and moved to Phoenix, did college and moved to California with my first real job.

    I eventually married and moved back to Arizona and to this day love to watch movies at our local theater with my lovely wife of 29 years and two kids we have. Sorry for the long message, but that theater was big & influential part of my life. I’m sorry to see it’s gone and was glad to see others cared enough to mention it!

    PS: Smokey and the Bandit was very influential to me too! I had always liked Pontiacs and Firebirds but could never afford one until 1979 when I bought a brand new one that I still own today! My love for these cars rubbed-off on my son. Him and I bought a very worn-out one on e-Bay and rebuilt it together to like-new condition. A really good father-son project!

  4. Kevin Says:

    PS… Should have mentioned that I was talking about the original Woodfield 1 & 2 theaters!


    Kevin : )

  5. Anthony Martini Says:

    I remember the Tradewinds had Pepsi Cap movies on Saturdays in the summer for kids . If you brought in 6 Pepsi Caps (from the old glass bottles ) you got in free to see a special movie . The place was up for grabs, with hundreds of young kids . I think I remember seeing Tom Sawyer ( starring Johnny Whitaker of the TV show Family Affair) and Pipi Longstockings. This promotion had to be about 1973-74

    • Paul Kluxen Says:

      I am from that area as well and clearly remember Pepsi bottle cap days! I remember seeing “Clash of the Titans” at the Tradewinds theater. We would go into the little Walgreens store that was 1 or2 store over and buy a bunch of candy to bring in with us. After the movie we would pop into the little hobby store that was next to it. I remember also the Jewelry store that was right across from the theater, that had a glass display window with jewelry in it and it was all lit up. Next to the jewelry store was a Hallmark. Between the Hobby store and Walgreens was a Radio shack. The Anchor stores were Dominicks and Zayre’s.

  6. Jeff Zimmer Says:

    I have searched the internet top to bottom and I don’t think anybody has pictures of any of the Woodfield Theaters.

  7. Peter Says:

    I saw so many movies at tradewinds theaters thru the 1980’s up until it allmost closed. Saw E.T. Victor/Victoria the raiders of the lost ark poltergeist. Well to many to list but the first movie I saw there was the finale planet of the apes movie. We would go as a family to the pepsi cap movies. I remember they had a contest who could yell louder the boys won and were given a free movie ticket. I saw the movie I belive it was called the cat from outer space. Saw star trek wrath of Kahn. Ghost. Alot of good movies and good memories. At Woodfield theaters saw empire strikes back return of Jedi psycho 2 jurrasic park the fugitive t2. But tradewinds. Was so close saw alot of movies there.

  8. Nickolaus Pacione Says:

    I saw E.T. with my late grandmother at Tradewinds in 1982. I had been dragged to Annie when I had an earache. I really wanted to see Twilight Zone: The Movie there.

  9. Paul McElroy Says:

    Great childhood memories at the Woodfield Cinemas. I remember seeing Jaws, Star Wars and other movies at Woodfield Cinema 1 and 2. The screens were HUGE! I remember being so scared while watching Jaws that I found myself standing in my seat! It’s a shame that the theaters are gone now. It seems that the only big screens that exist nowadays are at the IMAX theaters.

  10. joe Says:

    I worked at Woodfield 1 &2 in high school and it got me hooked on movies. I remember the red blazers and black slacks the ushers wore and the orange apron and black pants/shirt the girls wore. We used to get to see the movies for free and I would always go see them on my days off. Loved working the midnight shows! Anyone remember some of them ? Reefer Madness,….Black and Blue, Song Remains the Same, Tommy, etc…An outside company would rent the theater for the night and pay the workers…not Plitt. The company hired off duty cops to work security and they would share the confiscated liquor with the ushers working the shows. We used to take the beer and go behind the screens to watch the movie and drink. Hated having to scrub the seats clean every couple months, but it was mostly a cool job. I used to have a ton of movie posters and cutouts but threw them out when I moved out of my parents house. Raiders of the Ark…Empire Strickes Back, Superman 2, etc.. I hate to think how much they are worth now.

    As a patron the one show that stands out was the original Dawn of the Dead around 78/79. I had a fake ID and was able to get into the R rated show ( they carded for this movie). We ended up leaving because some of the scenes were too graphic and making some our group sick to their stomachs. I also remember seeing Aliens there and Smokey and the Bandit with my Dad, brother, uncles and cousins. It was my Dad’s and Uncle’s favorite movie and we saw it several times. I saw Animal House there and never laughed harder in my life.

    Back then the job of projectionist was highly coveteted. I know of some projectionists that were on the waiting list for 10 years before they got the job. It was a union job, and the pay and benefits were VERY good. I remember one of the projectionist telling me he was an Electrical Engineer before he went to the top of the list and got hired as a projectionist. I thought that odd at the time since I was taking engineering classes in school at the time and thought an EE was a better career. The projectionists basically lived in that room during their shift. They had a fridge, kitchen, bathroom, couch, tv, with all the comforts of home. Today it is all digital and done with computers.

    Century Theater – I remember in the late 70s when the movie Warriors came out, The movie is tame by todays standards, but back then the fight/gang scenes were controversial. If I remember correctly they tried to keep the movie from being shown at Century, but were unseccessful. The Hoffman Estates Police were on site for crowd control during the shows on Friday and Saturday nights….and were searching some movie goers before they entered, my group included. There were concerns about the gang violence in the movie being mimicked by local kids.
    I remember seeing Jungle Book with my grandparents at Thunderbird when I was a kid.

    Barrington Square Theaters –
    Cant forget to mention this theater. I cant remember it is was 6 or eight screens. Used to be in the back of the mall. There was a comic book shop and a Garibaldis in the mall that we hung out at also. I went there when it was a first run and then a 2nd run theater.

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