The theater was built in keeping with General Cinema's tradition of adding screens near major shopping destinations. General Cinema Lakehurst was originally built with three screens, and its opening film was The Exorcist. In 1984 the theater expanded to eight screens, and finally in 1987 to 12-screens and 3,200 seats; boasting the record for "Most Movie Screens in America", although theaters with more screens did already exist at that time.
The theatre received heavy local press in March 1991 after a large gang-related brawl occurred in the theater's parking lot at the opening of New Jack City. The melee resulted in the pulling of all showtimes for the film at the theater. Later that year the theatre was one of four to pull the film Boyz n the Hood, after a Chicagoan was murdered at the movie's opening day at a nearby theatre.
Beginning in 1991 with the opening of the colossal Gurnee Mills 10 minutes northwest; Lakehurst Mall began a decade-long decline. The dying mall was drastically affecting the surrounding businesses; many restaurants, shops, and attractions closed.
In 2000, General Cinema Lakehurst closed as a result of General Cinema's bankruptcy. Lakehurst was one of many former General Cinema theaters not acquired by AMC Theatres. The next year, Lakehurst Mall (with the exception of the surviving Carson Pirie Scott department store) was shuttered.
On September 28, 2001 the multiplex re-opened under the name Lakehurst Cinemas, and was then operated by Village Theatres, a small chain of theaters in the Chicago area. Curiously, except for a small banner covering a sign at the theater entrance, the theater still bore General Cinema signage on the building's north side, and on its sign near Waukegan Road (Route 43).
In 2003 the Lakehurst Mall property was purchased by the Shaw Company, and was demolished in 2004 for a mixed-use redevelopment known as Fountain Square of Waukegan. It was also announced that Lakehurst Cinema would close in the future, but a date was not given.
A visit by Lake County Building Inspectors in December 2006 resulted in a red-tag on the structure; and revealed numerous life-safety concerns including lack of heat in several theaters, a leaking roof, water in a screening room, and inoperable fire alarms. The theater briefly re-opened after repairing the most severe problems, and announced it would cease operation permanently after January 7, 2007.
Demolition of the multiplex began in mid-July 2007, and the theater was gone by mid-August. While the press touted a Holiday Inn Express would be built on the former site of the theatre, it was actually built approximately 100 feet (30 m) west of the site. The site today is a vacant dirt-filled lot, with its parking lot heavily used by semi-trailer truck drivers.
- Don Moran (November 9, 2005). "Final curtain for old cinema". Lake County News-Sun. Retrieved November 23, 2009.
- Cinematour.com, Lakehurst Cinema 12, accessed November 23, 2009
- Don Moran (July 27, 2007). "Last picture show: Lakehurst Cinema falls to the wrecking ball". Lake County News-Sun. Retrieved November 23, 2009., quoted by Cinemateasures.org[permanent dead link]
- Michael Zoldessy (August 1, 2007). "Lakehurst Comes Down". Cinematreasures.org. Retrieved November 23, 2009.
- Don Moran (January 13, 2007). "Final Curtain for Lakehurst Cinema". Lake County News-Sun. Retrieved November 23, 2009., Part 2 Archived July 24, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- Aljean Harmetz (July 28, 1982). "14 screens housed in 1 theater complex". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Archived from the original on January 25, 2013. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
- Wakeugan Archived October 11, 2008, at the Wayback Machine., Movie-theatre.org, Accessed November 23, 2009
- Cheryl Jackson (July 14, 1991). "Some theaters canceling `Boyz' after violence, Chicagoan's death". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
- "Waukegan theater reopening". Lake County News-Sun. September 20, 1991. Retrieved November 23, 2009.