GQT Savoy 16

232 West Burwash Avenue, Savoy, Illinois

Opened 19 December 1990

Robert Goodrich, owner and CEO of Goodrich Quality Theatres, Inc., announced that construction was to begin soon on the company’s new 10-screen theater complex at a press conference and groundbreaking ceremony on Monday, 30 April 1990.  Goodrich said he expected the theater complex to be open by Thanksgiving.  His plan was to present the best Hollywood films as well as many top art and foreign films.  The Savoy 10 was to have three full-time and 30 part-time employees.1

Michigan based Goodrich Quality Theaters worked with the MHB Design Group to design the 35,696 square foot complex costing more than $2.4 million, with an additional $800,000 allotted for equipment.2 

The complex combines ten theaters under one roof with a shared 6,400 square foot lobby.  There would be a central ticket counter and a separate 84-foot concession counter.  A floor manager’s station, a new concept in theater management, would be included.  The lobby décor would feature curved ceiling bulkheads, ceramic tiles, and neon graphics accented in deep colors.3

Each auditorium would be equipped with rocking chair seats, screen title-curtains, and Smart sound.  Six were to have Smart Stereo Surround sound with JBL speakers.4

Floor plan of the Savoy 10 as printed in the Parkland Prospectus, 3 April 1990, page 8.

The auditorium capacity ranges from 150 to 350 people.  The two largest will have the capability to screen 70 mm films with Dolby SR sound.

It is not uncommon in construction projects for there to be delays in receiving materials or for tasks to take longer than anticipated.  The Savoy 10 construction experienced delays and thus did not make its original projected opening of Thanksgiving when most of the holiday films open.6

A two-day grand opening took place on Wednesday and Thursday, 19 and 20 December 1990.7

Grand opening ad from

The Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette,

Tuesday 18 December 1990, page A-14.

Bill McMannis, Goodrich Quality Theaters vice president and general manager, said the expansion is also a sign that business has remained strong despite the Beverly Cinemas opening in late 1995.  He went on to say they will take the opportunity to make additional renovations and upgrades.  He said that long-term, Goodrich has looked at plans for as many as 20 screens, but that’s not currently being considered.9

Work was to start the next week on the two-screen addition to the Savoy 14 according to the 2 October 1997 story in The News-Gazette.  “It’s been one of the greatest things for the village of Savoy,” Mayor Robert McCleary said of the theater complex following the village board’s unanimous approval of an amendment to Goodrich’s special use permit that cleared the way for construction to begin.  Likewise, village board member Ted Davis was quite happy.  He had been skeptical of the theater’s success back when it opened in 1990.  Four additional screens were added in 1993.  Now it was starting its second expansion.  Bill McMannis, vice president and general manager of Goodrich Quality Theaters, said the Savoy theaters currently do the company’s second-best business, behind a Chicago area complex.  “We’re hoping this (the expansion) puts it back at number one,” McMannis said.10 

Construction on the latest addition would start on Monday, 6 October 1997, with the new theaters expected to be open for business by the middle of February 1998.  The complex would remain open throughout the construction period, although individual auditoriums would be closed when work was being done in them.  Goodrich took the opportunity to renovate the building and upgrade four of its existing auditoriums.  New stadium seating was added to two of the auditoriums to create better sight lines.  The seats in the back half of a theater are raised with each row a step up from the row in front of it.  Both new theaters will have stadium seating.  Goodrich installed new carpeting, painted, and did general repairs throughout the building.  The new theaters were built on the north side of the complex where a parking lot was located.  Replacement parking was constructed on the south side of the building.11 

Grand opening ad from

The Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette,

Thursday 20 December 1990, page C-11. 

The Savoy 16 as it appeared 9 February 2008.  Copyright by Perry C. Morris

An article in the 25 January 2012 edition of The News-Gazette announced that Goodrich Quality Theatres, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was considering a renovation of its Savoy 16 complex.  Area manager Heath Thomas said that after more than twenty years it’s time to renovate.  He stressed that renovation plans were still conceptual, but could include adding an auditorium, converting an existing auditorium to a community room, putting stadium seating in auditoriums that don’t already have it and adding rest rooms.  The complex’s smallest auditorium would be the most difficult to convert to stadium seating, so it might be converted to a community room.  According to Thomas, Goodrich has already made a “substantial investment” in new digital projection systems, and there are plans to add another 3-D screen.12 

The News-Gazette reported more details on 1 July 2012.  Goodrich Quality Theatres regional manager Heath Thomas revealed that the new big screen would be an IMAX auditorium, purpose-built to meet IMAX specifications, on the south end of the complex.13 

The IMAX Corporation developed its namesake IMAX projection system that makes possible images of greater size and resolution than conventional projection systems.14  The IMAX pictures are taller and have more content than the traditional format.  The IMAX theater in Savoy will be one of the largest in the United States.  According to Martin Betz, Goodrich Quality Theaters chief operating officer, IMAX theaters cost roughly $1.5 million more than traditional theaters.  He feels it’s worth it as “IMAXs do quite well.  It’s a premium experience.”15

At the time, there were more than 500 IMAX theaters around the world.  The closest to Champaign-Urbana were in Peoria, the Indianapolis area, the Chicago metropolitan area, and Edwardsville.  The article also reported that Carmike Cinemas intended to add an auditorium with a big screen to its Beverly 18 in north Champaign.16 

An existing auditorium would be converted to provide more restrooms and a birthday party room.  The concessions area would be reconfigured, moving from the middle of the lobby over to one side of the lobby.  The building’s exterior would also be renovated.  Work was expected to begin in August with completion anticipated in mid-January.17 

A story in the 6 September 2012 edition of The News-Gazette reported that the village of Savoy’s Zoning Board of Appeals approved Goodrich Quality Theater’s request for a building height variance of up to 55 feet tall which covers the expected 50 foot height of the IMAX portion of the building.  It was also thought that due to the proximity of the Savoy 16 to the University of Illinois Willard Airport, approval from the Federal Aviation Administration might be necessary.  Upon completion of the engineering work, it was determined that approval was not required.18 

Goodrich Quality Theatres debuted its new IMAX theater at the Savoy 16 on 3 May 2013, with “Iron Man 3: An IMAX 3-D Experience.”  The IMAX auditorium has a seating capacity of 500 people.  The screen is 80 feet wide and nearly 50 feet tall.  Other IMAX 3-D movies scheduled for the summer include: “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” “Man of Steel,” “Pacific Rim” and “300: Rise of an Empire.”19 

Remodeling at the Savoy 16 had been ongoing since November and its new box office and concession stands had already opened.  The refurbished complex also has meeting rooms for private parties or birthdays.  One of the auditoriums will feature D-BOX motion-effects seats that move side to side, forwards and backwards, and up and down.20