Chicago may not be on the West Coast, but it’s got a rich film legacy that continues today, with movies and TV shows constantly being shot on neighborhood streets throughout the city. Add a touch of Hollywood glamour to your special event with camera-ready Chicago special event venues and dramatic design elements fit for the silver screen. Get ready for your close-up!
Show-stopping special event venues
Cinespace Chicago Film Studios
An actual movie set can be the location of your next meeting or event at Cinespace. This family-run business operates studio space and support facilities for movies and television, including hot shows like Chicago Fire and Empire. Located in a former steel company building, Cinespace occupies an astonishing 1.5 million square feet on Chicago’s west side, which includes 20 sound stages. The huge amount of space means that Cinespace can easily customize for group sizes ranging from 30 to 2,000 people in settings up to 60,000 square feet in size. Furniture and equipment rental is available and planners can use the on-site caterer or a preferred vendor. 2621 W. 15th Pl.
Gene Siskel Film Center
Named for beloved Chicago movie critic Gene Siskel, this art film house offers a modern alternative for meetings and events in the heart of the Loop. Presentations can be held in two state-of-the-art movie theaters, with respective seating for 197 and 61 people. A sun-drenched gallery/cafe space overlooking bustling State Street is the perfect place for luncheons or private receptions. The film center can provide basic movie theater concessions (including wine and beer), but welcomes licensed caterers. Because the Gene Siskel Film Center is open to the public seven days a week (as part of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago), it is primarily available for daytime rentals. 164 N. State St.
Music Box Theatre
The ornate Music Box Theatre opened in Chicago’s Wrigleyville neighborhood in 1929 and still retains its grand movie palace allure, complete with an old-fashioned theater organ. Today, the 800-seat Music Box is known as the city’s top venue for indie, foreign, cult, and classic films. It’s also a great spot for an atmospheric event with vintage cinema charm, featuring a night-sky ceiling twinkling with glittering stars and a stage draped in a lush red velvet curtain. The Music Box hosts private movie screenings, film premieres, and corporate events. Two state-of-the-art auditoriums have capacities for 728 and 70. The cozy, brick-walled Lounge & Garden is the perfect spot to hold pre- and post-screening receptions. 3733 N. Southport Ave.
More movie palaces
Nothing says old Hollywood glamour like an elegant retro movie palace. Chicago is home to quite a few, which have been beautifully restored and are available to rent as event venues. Besides the Music Box Theatre, others to consider include:
The Chicago Theatre: Opened in 1921, this French Baroque theatre was the first lavish movie palace in America. Its ornate lobby, majestic staircase, and grand three-level, 3,600-seat auditorium adorned with lovely murals make it the perfect place for a very special event.
Cadillac Palace Theatre: Designed by the legendary Rapp Brothers architects, this 2,500-seat 1920s Loop theater originally opened as a vaudeville showcase, with exquisite interiors inspired by the palaces of Versailles and Fontainebleau.
Aragon Ballroom: Named the “most beautiful ballroom in the world” when it opened in 1926, the Aragon features crystal chandeliers, beautiful arches, and charming Spanish terra cotta details, with a capacity of up to 4,500 guests.
Hollywood glamour & style
Once you’ve settled on a venue, it’s time to tackle important elements like event design and unexpected details to surprise guests, such as their own red carpet complete with a photographer. Here are some ideas to get you started.
HMR Designs became a powerhouse when it combined three of Chicago’s leading floral and event design firms into one. A team of talented artisans, designers, and producers work together to craft HMR’s visually stunning, one-of-a-kind themed experiences. HMR’s workspace includes a floral studio, painting, and art production areas, fabric and sewing wings, and a woodshop. Its capabilities range from exquisite floral arrangements to custom 3D artwork, graphic branding, and radiant lighting schemes. HMR also has a warehouse full of custom furniture and elegant decor pieces to add the perfect dramatic touch to a corporate event or gala. 4200 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.
Photo Booth of the Stars
Want to give your attendees the celebrity red carpet treatment? Look no further than Photo Booth of the Stars. Founded in 2007 by a husband-and-wife team, it was one of the first portable photo booth rental companies in Chicago. The company offers a number of corporate packages, but pick the Hollywood Shots and you’ll get a Hollywood-themed, step-and-repeat backdrop (or a custom screen for branding) complete with a professional photographer shooting from an open photo booth, a red carpet, and velvet ropes to make your attendees feel like stars. Images are digitally downloaded to an online photo gallery for sharing. 222 E. Pearson St.