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The Evanstonian

The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian

The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian

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Foam pits and fewer screenings

ETHS students have mixed reactions to new movie theater and trampoline park downtown
Foam+pits+and+fewer+screenings

During the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many movie theaters across the U.S. shut down. This included a downtown Evanston staple, the Cinemark on Maple Street. The owners of Evanston’s only commercial cinema, a private equity firm, were looking for a new tenant after the nation’s largest movie theater chain. This resulted in the Cinemark which has owned and occupied in the area for over 20 years being able to end its lease due to Illinois’ COVID-19 executive orders commissioned by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Many Evanston residents were saddened by the loss of the theater and the fact that there weren’t any signs of another company taking over. In late 2022 it was finally announced that the mega-corporation American Multi-Cinema, more commonly known as AMC, was taking over the property, and was set to open in 2023. 

But there was a catch: AMC only purchased one half of the building, leaving the other half to be turned into a Sky Zone trampoline park. This meant that there would be several auditoriums missing, including the bar and billiards area.

On November 9th, 2022, AMC replaced the iconic Cinemark sign and branding with their logo. The change was made within weeks of the Sky Zone officially opening its doors to the public. It marked the official start of the dual-owned space between both companies.

Some ETHS students were unhappy with the changes made to the theater. Sophomore Fazal Mato and junior Charlie Settimi both agreed that the Cinemark-owned theater was better. 

“I prefer Cinemark. It felt more personal to Evanston, and it was better priced. AMC is the biggest movie theater chain in the country and way more expensive,” expressed Mato. 

“ [At] AMC the ticket prices are higher, as are the concessions,” added Settimi. “Ever since the AMC took over too, the space has gotten smaller, meaning less theaters and fewer showings/movies.” 

Although they agreed on their opinion of the new theater, Settimi and Mato had differing thoughts on how the Sky Zone affected their theater-going experience.

In Charlie’s experience, the Sky Zone didn’t affect the surrounding area that much. The only change he was aware of was the noise and crowd when walking in and out of the theater, but he says it isn’t noticeable. 

On the other hand, Fazal was initially excited about the opening of the trampoline park, but after stopping by the area it wasn’t what he expected. 

“It seemed to be targeted at mostly kids about 12 and younger. It honestly strikes me as a sort of daycare area to drop off kids while parents can watch movies,” Mato described.

Both agreed, however, that they would have preferred something more targeted toward teenagers in space occupied by Sky Zone.

Overall the change of the new AMC combined with the Sky Zone both have their pros and cons compared to the old Cinemark. No matter what stance you have on the changes made, it is safe to say that the location will be a staple of Downtown Evanston for many years to come. 

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Tony Mateos, Staff Writer
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