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Classic Cinemas names new CEO

Daily Herald Business Ledger ~ November 13, 2014


Classic Cinemas names new CEO
Business Ledger News Services
Thursday, November 13, 2014 5:22 PM

Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson

DOWNERS GROVE -- Classic Cinemas has announced the appointment of Chris Johnson as its new chief executive.

Johnson’s father, Willis Johnson, will continue as president of Classic Cinemas and serve as a key adviser to his son.

Johnson’s appointment represents the culmination of his extensive career with Classic Cinemas, which began nearly 35 years ago when he worked as an usher at the Tivoli Theatre in Downers Grove. Over the years, Johnson worked as an assistant manager, manager, concessions manager and operations manager. He was the company’s vice president since 1992 in charge of finance, theatre operation and human resources.

Johnson, 47, said he’s eager to further integrate technology into the company, including selling tickets on all platforms and utilizing integrated marketing strategies to communicate with Classic Cinemas guests. He also looks forward to ongoing improvements at Classic Cinemas’ 13 theatres.

“We’re run by our guests,” explained Johnson, adding that enhancing the movie-going experience is Classic Cinemas’ principal goal. “I want our guests to leave the theatre saying, ‘we should do this more often.’”

Johnson is a native of Downers Grove where he lives with his wife and two children. He earned a BA from UIC and an MBA from the University of Chicago. He is a cycling enthusiast and enjoys seeing movies at Classic Cinemas’ theatres. He is involved in his community and serves on the board of District 58 Education Foundation in Downers Grove.

Johnson recently was named the president of NATO of Illinois, a statewide trade organization representing movie theatre owners and operators, replacing his father, Willis, who served previously as president of the organization. NATO of Illinois is affiliated with the National Association of Theatre Owners, which represents more than 29,000 movie screens in all 50 states and additional cinemas in 50 countries.


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