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Some of the information given on the early Duluth theatres is wrong on CT so I will update it all at a later time when I have all of my research and notes together. The West Theatre was built in 1937. Before it opened, owner J. B. Clinton died, and partner Clarence Kaake, a property investor/realtor, eventually became sole owner in 1941. West Theatre closed in late 1950s, and was an on again/off again operation by then. Jake Musich reopened in ‘59, closed briefly in May 1966. Reopened as the DULUTH THEATRE with the first run of “Sound of Music” in June '66. (It later had the first run of “Doctor Zhivago”) From 1969 on, the theatre had several operators, usually the same operators also had the Granada in Duluth and the Beacon in Superior, WI. The Duluth Theatre had a very sketchy and unfocused film policy throughout the 1970s, ranging from soft to hard porn, first run major Hollywood features, and 2nd runs with a 99-cent policy. In the mid-70’s it was called the “Duluth Spirit Valley Theatre” in newspaper ads only because that area of town was trying to change its image (not successfully). In the early 70’s and again around '78-'80, the theatre would sometimes be closed for weeks or months at a time. Newspaper advertising was sometimes nonexistent. The last Hollywood features to play in the theatre appear to be January 1980; after that until 1981, there were showings of porn on an inconsistent basis. The building was mostly dormant from 1981 until a quilt shop opened in 1997.
Some corrections to dates. The story given here makes it sound like Engler never ran the place. They did, for 2 years. It opened 11/22/85 and in Nov 1987 the lease went to UA. Minneapolis taxpayers financed a lot of this boondoggle in the early 1980s.
Opening was 9/16/70 with “On A Clear Day … ” and “Two Mules for Sister Sara”. The third screen debuted 10/19/77.
The presentation is “fine”? Not hardly. The twinning was done in 1983 by Plitt. It was a Minnesota Amusement Co. (Paramount) build, in 1967. The screens are kiddy-wompus so there’s keystoning problems and the lamps are pretty dim.
Last show Sun. ½/66 “The Ipcress File”; there had been a kiddie matinee that weekend of “Fluffy”. Of course Cedric Adams was a HUGE radio and newspaper personality here, why is this even being questioned? He did many personal appearances at theatres, including the Richfield – not just for its opening. Adams, who had a news and comment program on WCCO radio, was big enough to be on Murrow’s “Person to Person” show. You can see the whole show on You Tube.
The Jerry Lewis Cinema in Burnsville, MN opened Fri. 10/1/71 with “The Anderson Tapes” and “Lawman” (not Billy Jack as stated at the top) There was also a weekend matinee of “Journey to the Center of the Earth”. At least a few years ago, the building was still standing and being used for other purposes.
Still more corrections needed:
The Lake Amusement Co. was John Enquist, and that was in the very early days of this theatre. The building permit was issued in 1915. Twin City Theatre Corp. purchased it in 1933. That was a small chain of local owners that included Howard Dale, M. E. Montgomery, Robert J. Rydeen and Dick Latshaw. It closed in 1963, demolished soon after.
I caution people not to use Motion Picture Almanac and those kinds of sources – they are highly unreliable, especially in reporting seating capacities.
More and more I have to track down theatres on C.Treasures to refute the erroneous information being given.
The White Bear Theatre opened Aug 4, 1939. The operator was Dave Ratner. Franklin Amusement Co. NEVER had theatres in White Bear Lake. In 1940, Ratner sued his landlord, Mrs. Jessie Jensen, who operated the other theatre in town – his claim being that she was deliberately overbooking product to keep it away from Ratner. Ratner sold in 1947, there were at least 2 more owners until 1960. Somewhere around â€˜60 the theatre closed. A trade paper item in 1962 said the seats were being taken out and put into the Homewood Theatre in Minneapolis. The theatre reopened with the name Cine Capri on Mar. 22, 1967 with â€œDr. Zhivagoâ€ followed by â€œThe Sound of Musicâ€ on 4-26-67. Rockers were put in, and the remodeling job was by Liebenberg, Kaplan and Glotter. The top ticket then was $2.00.
In 1971 the local Carisch circuit acquired the two White Bear Lake theatres (the other was originally the Avalon, later renamed White Bear Cinema). With the aid of a local bank (according to an article in the St. Paul newspaper), Carisch started bidding wars for 1st run exclusives in the St. Paul side of the metro. Competitors were General Cinema (Har Mar), UA (Maplewood Mall) and Plitt (downtown St. Paul and Plaza in Maplewood). Carisch won some of the bids, with the standout being â€œJawsâ€ (6/20/75-2/5/76); â€œThe Omenâ€ (6/25/76, exclusive only the first 6 weeks); â€œBlack Sundayâ€ (4/1/77) and others.
The Cine Capri closed 9/14/77 with â€œSmokey and the Banditâ€. The seating capacity was not 298 but probably double that in its pre-1960 time. In the 1970â€™s, articles in newspapers and the trades gave the capacity as either 444 or 450 (bear in mind the rocker seats). The street address was 521 3rd St. (Banning Ave. and 3rd St.). It has been converted to retail.
An article from March 2008 says the theatre was cutting back days of operation. Link: View link
CORRECTION to the opening statement: the theatre’s 2nd screen was an add-on around 1982. The original auditorium was not cut.
Mr. Coate is right. Star Wars was not at Southtown. The Besse book is full of errors, by the way.
Here’s their web site.
The porno policy was instituted in June 1965. It continued that way until closing in August 1979, and demolition was in November.
Take those books with a grain of salt. Many times they had wrong information in them whether it be seating capacities, name of owner, number of screens, etc. I have found MANY mistakes over the years in Motion Picture Almanac, etc.
The process took about ten years – the suit started around 1938 and took 10 years for the decision. Then it was about another 10 years before all theatre divestitures that the decree asked for were completed.
The “fight films” and the live closed circuit were two different operations and served two different audiences. A major studio(s) would make a 20-30 minute short condensation of the fight and play it as a 35mm short subject in theatres. The shorts would play weeks later after the fight as they were edited pieces. In the late 1960s a few Indy 500 races were also closed circuit TV'ed to theatres.
The building is still standing, but if there is a buyer out there – you better act quick. Call city hall in Superior, Wisconsin.
The original poster says she wants to run art/indie pix. We would hope that you are aware of the BIG MONEY needed to acquire first run product. You also have to consider will you be ABLE to get first run product? Who’s your competition? What are they doing? Even the chains show art pix now: AMC, Carmike, Regal, etc. IF you have a chain as a competitor and they are playing the art pix you want, you will have a hard time wresting those away from them. A lot of this depends on the market you are in. An art house in New York City does not have the same challenges that an art house in a smaller town in Missouri may have, or a more competitive market like Kansas City, Seattle, etc.
You wouldn’t get away with playing “collectors prints” before they shut you down. You have to use the distributors as your source for film as they hold the copyrights and have the prints. Typically there is a guarantee of $200-$300 per title versus a percentage of 35% (I’m talking about classics). What will kill you is the shipping. The numbskulls did away with the 30 film barns we had in this country and a lot of prints are now located in only one or two places and they have to be shipped everywhere. Most of the classics are in L.A. and the dumb distributors insist that everything be shipped via air, which adds even more cost. The shipping costs will often exceed your guarantee
The “Show Houses Twin Cities Style” book by Besse has many mistakes in it and omissions, so it should not be taken as the final word on the subject of Mpls.-St. Paul movie theatres.
The correct address is 211, not 1211. The norshor.com site is the PREVIOUS management and no longer updated. The current operators' web site is norshor.biz
It opened in 1938; was a Paramount house. Over the last 15-20 years there have been several operations here, from a disco dance hall to a church and things in between.
Some of this information is wrong. The Finkelstein and Ruben circuit (F & R) was completely taken over by Paramount by 1929; the local company was called Minnesota Amusement Company, an arm of Paramount Pictures. The Grand Theatre closed in 1935 and reopened as the Gopher in 1938 after being remodeled by architects Jack Liebenberg and Seeman Kaplan in the streamline moderne style so popular then. Minnesota Amusement used it as a moveover house and B’s during the 1940’s. As part of the Paramount Decree, it was one of many (but the only downtown theatre) theatres Paramount had to divest themselves of. It was sold in 1950 to various theatremen who passed it around like a hot potato until finally falling into the hands of Ben Berger, whom Paramount didn’t want to sell to. Berger ran it until June 1977, when it was sold to Ferris Alexander during the first run (wide) of “The Deep”. For a short time late runs at a dollar admission followed, eventually leading to Alexander’s specialty, pornography. That lasted until August 1979 when the theatre was closed and the block was demolished to make way for City Center in downtown Minneapolis, on Hennepin Avenue, between 6th and 7th Streets.
In the early 1950’s, Berger began to get good product for the theatre, usually playing MGM pictures. The Gopher had a number of major first run pictures over the years: Million Dollar Mermaid, Mogambo, Westward the Women, Back to God’s Country, Ma and Pa Kettle Back Home, Men of the Fighting Lady, Many Rivers to Cross, The Big Combo, Blackboard Jungle, Moonfleet, The Kentuckian, Francis in the Navy, Rock Around the Clock, Tribute to a Bad Man, Godzilla (Raymond Burr version), The Curse of Frankenstein, High School Confidential, Run Silent Run Deep, 7th Voyage of Sinbad, The Shaggy Dog, Gidget, North by Northwest (13 weeks), The Beat Generation, The Story on Page One, The Bellboy, College Confidential, Wild in the Country, The Ladies Man, The Innocents, The Premature Burial, Kid Galahad (1962), Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation, It Happened at the World’s Fair, Viva Las Vegas, Operation Crossbow, Donovan’s Reef, Mondo Cane, Goldfinger, Bikini Beach, Beach Blanket Bingo, Pajama Party, Fail Safe, Fate is the Hunter, Tickle Me, The Singing Nun, Seconds, Torn Curtain, Spinout, In Like Flint, For a Few Dollars More, Good Bad and the Ugly, Guess Who’s COming to Dinner, To Sir With Love (these two had long runs), Midnight Cowboy (five months), MASH (7 months), Summer of 42 (nearly 3 months), Dirty Harry (over 3 months), The Cowboys, The Exorcist (6 months), Jaws (6 months)
Before the conversion to cinema grill, the seating was 600, which came about after a re-seating and remodel of the lobby which took place in 1966-67. Prior to that, the seating was probably in the 800 range.
Question: how do we change some of the Theatre Information at the top of this page – such as address, seating capacity, etc when usually they are “unknown”? (or are incorrect) I see nothing in the FAQ’s about this.
Varsity Theatre in Mpls was known as the University Theatre prior to its 1938 remodeling by Liebenberg and Kaplan, and was renamed Varsity. It closed as a movie theatre in 1988. The city of Mpls was able to shut the theatre down for not paying sales taxes during the brief time as a nightclub as described above. The building is currently for sale.