The six-screen Orland Square Theater—vacant for a decade—might well be demolished this spring; the southwestern suburban village of Orland Park has given the green light to raze the building for a Dave & Busters restaurant.
Looking around the place, I can see why the decision was made. The place is falling apart and is taking up valuable space in a functioning shopping mall. The demolition is part of the tough times hitting the suburban multiplex over the last 10 years as viewing habits change. Yes, Hollywood can churn out a blockbuster, but as I said when I ruminated over this issue in 2010, there will be other empty theaters “that’ll likely come on line as the movie-going audience fractures and distracts itself with DVDs, Mp3 players and the very device you’re reading this blog on.”
So what do we do with the empty suburban multiplexes? Do we work to repurpose them into auditoriums for community theater, or specialty movies—such as what was done long ago with Chicago’s ornate Music Box Theatre.
Or do we just call it quits and beckon the bulldozers without even raising the question of reuse?