As of this Friday, June 29, West Side residents no longer need to travel over the Oak Park border to see first-run summer films.

Kerasotes ShowPlace 14-Galewood Crossings Theatres, South of Grand Avenue, will open this weekend.

The amenities of the theater will include Chicago’s first “green roof” atop a theater to increase environmental awareness in the community and among industry partners. Auditoriums will have high-back rockers with flip-up, cup-holder armrests; wall-to-wall, curved screens and an arcade located in the lobby.

The theater is part of a major redevelopment of Chicago’s historic Galewood Railyard and is situated next to a brand new housing development, The Enclave at Galewood Crossings.

There has been enormous support for the project from political figures in the community, particularly from 29th Ward Alderman Isaac “Ike” Carothers. Staffs from both Kelvyn Park and Prosser Career Academy high schools also contributed in aiding the hiring drive.

“We hired 160 wonderful young adults to be important members of our staff,” said Claire Malo, director of marketing for Kerasotes.

In its first week, ShowPlace 14-Galewood Crossings patrons can choose from several first-run films, such as Evan Almighty, Ratatouille, Live Free or Die Hard, and Transformers.

In celebration of the theater’s grand opening, from Friday through Thursday, June 29, until July 5, patrons can see matinee presentations that begin prior to 12 noon, free of charge. Guests will also receive a free small popcorn and a free small fountain drink to the shows before noon as well.

“We are very excited about the opening,” said Malo. “The location was chosen because it was a well-populated area and provided easy access by train or car.”

It was once believed that, due to rampant piracy, allowing first-run films to be viewed through illegal copies, and the enormous success of DVD recorders, the multiplex movie theater experience was becoming obsolete.

However, with the success of such summer blockbusters as Spider-Man 3, Knocked Up, and Fantastic Four, it seems that buttered popcorn, fold-out seats and air-conditioned auditoriums continue to be a reliable summer staple.

“I think, in spite of the accessibility to first-run movies through other means, there really is no substitute for sitting in a theater and enjoying a movie surrounded by other people who you can laugh and cry together with,” said Malo. “If the facility to view the films are of quality, people will travel to them.”

Although Malo claims it was not a planned maneuver, Kerasotes Showplace 14-Galewood Crossings has chosen an ideal time to open its doors: Right in the middle of the busy summer movie season.

“It was not planned, but it will certainly be a benefit,” said Malo. “You can probably expect to see the new Die Hard movie showing on three screens.”

Doors will open 1½ hours prior to the first matinee, allowing guests to obtain tickets at the box office. No advance (day prior) tickets will be available for these special “be our guest,” pre-noon matinee presentations. After obtaining admission tickets, guests may proceed to the concession counter to obtain a complimentary small popcorn and a complimentary small fountain drink.

Currently, there are two other theaters planned for opening in the Chicago area: a 14-screen multiplex in the Bridgeview neighborhood of Chicago, and a 16-screen project in the up-and-coming South Loop development, to be known as The Roosevelt Collection.

Chicago-based Kerasotes ShowPlace Theatres, LLC was founded in 1909. Kerasotes ShowPlace Theatres is the nation’s sixth largest film exhibitor, operating 95 locations with 852 screens plus one IMAX ® in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa, and Ohio.