THREATENED: Regent Theater / Village North/ New 400 Theater Chicago’s Oldest-Running Movie House at Risk of Closure

Regent Theater / Village North/ New 400 Theaters, 1913, 6746 N. Sheridan Road. Photo credit: The New 400 Theaters

“Tony Fox never planned to own a movie theater. Fox bought The New 400 Theaters and surrounding storefronts in 2007 as a redevelopment project. Two years later, he began operating the theater, which has been open in Rogers Park for more than 100 years.

“Fourteen years and thousands of movie tickets later, Fox said he’s ready to get out of show business.

“Now the movie theater is in jeopardy of permanently closing. Rogers Park resident Dona Vitale knows all about the theater’s long history.

“‘The 400 Theater was originally called the Regent Theater when it opened in 1913,’ Vitale said. ‘And when it opened, it showed all the first-run silent films including ‘The Perils of Pauline.’’

“Digging through the Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society archives, Vitale found pictures and stories of a theater that has also served as a community hub.

“At one point, there were up to 10 cinemas in the neighborhood, Vitale said. But The New 400 Theaters is the only one left.

“‘It would be really good for the neighborhood if we could keep it going and operating as a theater,’ Vitale added, ‘so I hope there’s somebody out there that will do that.’

“I’m hoping one of the bigger movie operators comes and takes it over and keeps it as a movie theater,’ Fox said. ‘I can’t guarantee that, of course.’

“There’s even a neighborhood initiative called the New 400 Street Team, a group of locals holding community movie nights to keep the theater in business.

“Some residents are concerned the historic building could be demolished. But Ald. Maria Hadden (49th Ward) said Fox has been working with her to make sure that doesn’t happen.” (Paddock, WTTW Chicago, 3/16/23)

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