Monday, January 30, 2023

Farewell, Regal Lincolnshire

 by Adam Riske

A tribute to the Regal Lincolnshire which abruptly closed last week.

I was texting last night with Mike after learning the news from Patrick that the Regal Lincolnshire theater in suburban Chicago abruptly closed that evening. Mike perfectly captured my feelings by simply saying “bums me out when a theater closes.” For the next few minutes, I reflected a bit on the theater (which I can’t imagine never being able to go to again) and the movie memories I had there. 2023 has been a year so far where I’m doubling down on visiting the local theaters I love the most; some are independents and some are chains. I’m romantic about them all, especially if they’re ones I visited often over time.

The Regal Lincolnshire was a chain theater but had a unique sensibility to me since our area’s multiplexes are heavily AMC Theatres. The Regal Lincolnshire had a late-'80s “you’re seeing a movie in a former TCBY frozen yogurt location” vibe to it. It was also often the first place nearby that got the new independent movies and awards hopefuls. I ventured out to the Regal Lincolnshire often to see those. It resided less than five minutes from my office, so there were many nights when I stopped by the theater to see a 5pm movie on my way home from work. It was especially a treat to do that on Fridays to kick off the weekend. The shopping center connected to the theater is in bad shape – over the years the Starbucks left, the Red Robin (terrible food) left, etc. Up until recently I had no nostalgia for this place or this shopping center, but now I do. You truly don’t know what you got till it’s gone.
So, thank you to the Regal Lincolnshire for providing me with 20+ years of movie memories dating back to my high school days. Here are a few fond remembrances I’ll keep from that place:

• The first time I ever went to the theater was to see House on Haunted Hill (1999). I was on a first date (in a group) with a girl who was my friend but just recently became my girlfriend. Our friend groups didn’t normally hang out, so this night was like the club scene in Valley Girl where my date was Nicolas Cage (i.e., had edge) and I was Deborah Foreman (i.e., was afraid). This relationship lasted about as long as it took you to read this.

• I went to see Lilo & Stitch there late in the summer of 2002 with my girlfriend at the time. That movie was special to us because we met for the first time earlier that summer when our friends got together to see Lilo & Stitch. It became our movie. We were about to become a long-distance couple with me going back to college soon. We both cried during the movie like I was going off to war.

• During Thanksgiving break that year, her and I bought tickets in advance to an opening night IMAX showing of Treasure Planet, which we were sure would sell out. There was, like, no one there but us. I remember after the movie ended that an usher came in to clean the theater and he said out loud “Well this thing’s gonna tank.”

• The following summer I lied to this girl because I wanted to see Bad Boys II one afternoon more than hang out with her (we were having problems, you see). I told her I was hanging out with my family or something. Instead, I was blasting Linkin Park’s “Meteora” round trip jacked up on the ongoing adventures of Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett.

• I went to see The Polar Express there multiple times in IMAX 3D because it was the best IMAX 3D I had ever seen and made the movie feel like you were trapped inside of a snow globe with characters who were mad at you.
• I remember seeing The Dark Knight early in the morning on opening day there and a fanboy got up and was hyping the crowd for some reason. Ordinarily this would be annoying, but this guy was fun. I remember him saying “This is what we waited all year for and it’s here!” and then he led a sing-along to the ’60s Batman theme song.

• I saw Avatar on opening night there in the IMAX theater and remember not loving the movie in part because the heads of the people in the row in front of us stuck out at the bottom of the screen. Every shot of Pandora was beautiful rainforest and people’s dumb heads.

• I met up with JB and Jan to see Foxcatcher at this theater. Getting out of the car, I slipped on some ice and landed on my arm. It hurt really bad, but it was better than Foxcatcher.

• What ended up being my final visit to the theater was last Labor Day weekend to see Jaws in IMAX. It was glorious. I wrote about it here.

In closing, I’ll leave you with one of the best things about seeing a movie at this theater: the Regal Rollercoaster ad that plays before every movie.

Thanks for the memories, Regal Lincolnshire.


  1. We only started going to the Regal Lincolnshire when Jan’s company ( which is based in Atlanta) gave her some Regal gift cards as a reward for a job well done. The theater was just as Adam described it. (I can’t believe this frozen yogurt is nonfat!) For the longest time I had a hard time actually getting to this theater; I would take a wrong turn at this gas station and wind up lost. I feel bad for the people who recently bought the new condos built right next to the theater. I’m sure the builders used the theater’s proximity as a selling point.

  2. NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! i hadnt heard. This sucks. The Regal holds a special place for me as there are precious few IMAX in the burbs and this one was my goto for "IMAX movies i wanna catch solo". #@$@#.

    RIP will be missed!!!!

    1. quickie Regal memory:

      Caught Dunkirk on IMAX opening week..if there was ever a movie to see on IMAX loudly..this is it. Incredibly visceral experience. It was so good that ive found myself not wanting to revisit the movie for some time as i KNOW it wont measure up.

  3. I went out to my local Regal the day after hearing about all the closures. It’s not the theater I’d usually visit to see movies I wanted to see. I prefer LA theaters: the New Beverly, the Cinerama Dome, the Nuart, and all the Laemmles. But as those are all an hour or more away, the Regal La Habra was where I’d take my kids to see the movies they wanted to see.
    The memory I’ll always carry from our Regal was taking my three daughters to see Coco. They were all enjoying it but when it was revealed that Hector was poisoned my oldest daughter ran from the theater. The thought of begin poisoned freaked her out so much she had zero interest in going back in. But her younger sisters were happily enjoying the movie and I was torn not wanting to leave any of them alone.
    In the end my wife came and picked up our daughter who had calmed down but still didn’t want to stay. Movies can be powerful, but more so when they are experienced in a movie theater. It’s always sad when one closes.

  4. Great article and very sad for your loss. Those memories are priceless. Fan boy lifting the crowd pre dark knight is so great.

  5. Ah, so sorry to read this. It's always tough to see the end of an era with something we love. Seeing Jaws is a pretty great last hurrah to go out on though!

  6. Before COVID I was in a theater somewhere and had the cheesy thought, "hey, I'm not religious person. You know, if I had a religion it would be movies and theaters would be my churches. Huh" That was dumb. Then we almost lost them all forever. I was kinda wrong. But still it's sad when we lose a good theater!

  7. I always enjoy hearing/reading movie memories like these. It's funny that sometimes you remember and connect the surrounding circumstances (who you saw it with, etc.) even if the movie was unremarkable. Regal was one of the 2 main theaters where I grew up, and the only "big" theater where I live now, so here's hoping they can cling to life at their remaining locations. Bummer to hear this one closed, but really enjoyed the tribute.