Now showing: shuttered theaters

The news: The Chicago-based Inner City Entertainment closed two of its movie theaters, ICE 62nd & Western 10, and ICE Lawndale 10, located on the city’s South and West sides, in late May.

Behind the news: The closing left the city south of Roosevelt Road with only two multiple theaters with capacity to show two films at once: the AMC Ford City 14 at 76th Street and Cicero Avenue and the Inner City Entertainment’s other location at 87th Street and Wentworth Avenue.

Despite the dearth of theater options in the largely black neighborhoods, African Americans visited movie theaters more often than any other race or ethnicity. According to a 2006 U.S. Movie Attendance Study by the Motion Picture Association of America, an average African American visited movie theaters nine times a year, compared to 7.1 times for a white movie-goer and 8 times for a Latino.

Patrick Corcoran, director of media and research for the National Association of Theater Owners, an industry group, said the economic outlook of theaters does not depend much on who lives in their surrounding areas. What matters most, he said, are factors such as infrastructure. “Fewer screens for big movies and lack of stadium seating can drive away audiences to theaters that have those features,” he said.

Alisa Starks, president of Inner City Entertainment, said the two closed theaters competed for the same customers with its remaining one. “The theaters were close together, so the revenue was probably being spread too thin,” she said. Revenue also suffered as people moved out of the Lawndale neighborhood when the public housing projects were torn down, she added.

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