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Chatham Movie Theater Name Change Brings Mixed Reactions

By Wendell Hutson | March 7, 2014 11:01am
 The Chatham 14 Theaters on the South Side plans to change its name to Studio Movie Grill-Chatham summer 2014.
Studio Movie Grill-Chatham
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CHATHAM — A pending name change for the Chatham 14 Theaters to Studio Movie Grill-Chatham is a surprise to some longtime customers.

The theater, 210 W. 87th St., was founded in 1997 by Donzell and Alisa Starks, whose Inner City Entertainment company named it ICE Chatham 14 Theaters.

In 2013, Michael Silver became the new owner and the name was changed to Chatham 14 Theaters.

Last month, Plano, Texas-based Studio Movie Grill became the latest owner and again the name was changed.

Lynne McQuaker, a spokeswoman for Studio Movie Grill, said the name change "is a consistent thing we have done with all our movie theaters, which is why we also are renovating the theater." 

McQuaker said the final step in the renovations, expected to be completed in May, is to change the sign outside to reflect the new name.

"We are excited to be in Chatham and want the the Chatham community to know how much we value their loyalty and feedback," she said. 

Still, some customers are afraid Chatham will lose its identity with a name change.

"Everyone knows this movie theater is in Chatham because of its name. But once you start changing things up, people get confused and go somewhere else," said Craig Thurman, 66. "I have been coming to the theater for 10 years and I have been a proud Chatham resident for 20 years."

Charles and Rozelle Frazier, a retired couple who lives in Auburn Gresham, go to the theater "at least once a week," said Rozelle Frazier. The name change does not matter to her but the switch bothers her husband.

"They're [Chatham 14 Theaters] doing too many changes at once. They are changing the name and ownership and now they plan to change the way the place looks," said Charles Frazier. "It would be nice if management would keep customers informed about all these changes."

Laura Bass, who lives in south suburban Glendale but travels to Chatham weekly to go to the movies, said there are closer theaters but she likes the theater, no matter what it's called.

"As long as the price stays the same and they continue showing good movies, I could care less what the name says on the outside," Bass said.

Tremesia Meakins, 23, an Auburn Gresham resident, said she's not concerned about the name change.

"I bring my son here a lot and I never really knew the name anyway," said Meakins.

Venisha White-Johnson, operations manager for the theater, questioned why customers did not complain the last time the name was changed.

"People still call us ICE Chatham and we changed from that name two years ago," White-Johnson said. "Now that we are changing our name again everyone is asking 'why this' and 'why that.' "

White-Johnson said people "should focus their attention on what we are doing for the community and how well we do it."

"If they do that then I think they will see how much good we have done for Chatham and how much more we plan to do," White-Johnson said.