Alliance Theatre

410 Box Butte Avenue,
Alliance, NE 69301

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ALLIANCE Theatre, Alliance, Nebraska

Opened on November 23, 1937 with Errol Flynn in “The Perfect Specimen”. The Alliance Theatre, located on Box Butte Avenue in Alliance, is an Art Moderne style movie house which is still operating today showing first-run films.

It is shown as open in the 1945 Film Daily Yearbook, with seating for 869 and at that time operated by Fox Inter-Mountain Theaters Inc.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

kpdennis
kpdennis on May 14, 2009 at 10:37 pm

The Alliance looking sharp in 1989 – how did this single screen venue acquire four more auditoriums by 2009?
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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 20, 2009 at 12:33 am

The Alliance was a 1937 rebuild of an older theater called the Imperial. Fox Intermountain had recently opened the rebuilt and renamed house, according to Boxoffice of November 20 that year. The Imperial had already been completely remodeled before, as reported in Movie Age of January 19, 1929.

Fox Intermountain was still operating the Alliance when the house was reseated in 1956, reducing capacity from 900 to 756, according to Boxoffice of June 2.

Updated and remodeled again in 1976, the Alliance was then being operated by Commonwealth Theatres, as reported in Boxoffice of October 11.

I’ve found nothing in Boxoffice about the multiplexing of this theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 20, 2009 at 9:34 pm

I’m not doubting that the theater was multiplexed, just saying that I can’t find anything in Boxoffice about it. I had hoped to find an item that would reveal the year that it was done, and that might give the new seating capacity.

kpdennis
kpdennis on December 21, 2009 at 9:33 am

The photo on the May 2009 message was taken in 1989 – so sometime after then for the renovation.

Splitting an approximately 750-seat auditorium into five separate rooms – that’s an interesting puzzle!

kpdennis
kpdennis on June 26, 2017 at 11:17 am

Passed through Alliance, NE yesterday after a trip to Badlands National Park. Glad to see the theatre is still bustling, folks were exiting the Sunday afternoon screenings as I shot some pictures (new pics in the Photo section). Carhenge, located a few miles outside of Alliance, is worth a visit as well.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 1, 2017 at 3:27 pm

The NRHP Registration Form for the Alliance Commercial Historic District says that the Alliance Theatre was designed by Denver architect Walter H. Simon.

dallasmovietheaters
dallasmovietheaters on August 13, 2020 at 9:29 am

The original Imperial Theatre opened in another location in downtown Alliance in 1910 operating with silent films from 1910 to 1914.

This venue’s history dates back to its inception as the New Imperial Theatre Building which was launched in the retrofitted Charters Hotel Building (formerly the Preston Hotel) on September 1, 1914 with two sold out screenings of “Beneath the Lion’s Paws.” Local movie legend Harry A. Dubuque had come to Alliance in 1912 and purchased the Majestic Theatre changing it to the Empress Theatre. He then bought the Crystal Theatre to have two theaters in town. Finally, he took on the competing Imperial in 1916 closing the Crystal moving Alliance from a three movie theater town to two. He then decided to close the Empress and go all-in on making the Imperial the best house possible.

In 1919, the building was given its second major overhaul post hotel operation with the architectural plans of famed Denver architect, Frank E. Edbrooke. The retrofit included a $10,000 Wurlitzer pipe organ. The New Imperial reluanched on August 27, 1919 with Pauline Frederick in “One Week of Life” supported by two live vaudeville acts.

Dubuque sold out to Jim E. Hughes and Ben J. Sallows in 1922. They opened the Rialto Theatre in 1923 to bring Alliance back to a two theatre town. They upgraded the theatre with carpeting for sound deadening to accompany the Pacent Sound System they purchased in 1929. Soon after, the pair sold the Imperial and the Rialto to Fox West Coast Circuit in October of 1929.

In 1937, Fox decided to give the building a major art deco retrofit modeled after a Boulder Fox theatre. Water Simon did the architectural work that led to the gutting of the Fox Imperial. In a classy move, Harry A. Dubuque and his wife were honored guests at the reopening of the venue. The new Fox Alliance Theatre opened November 23, 1937 with “The Prefect Specimen” supported by the Mickey Mouse cartoon, “A Hawaiian Holiday,” a Paramount news reel, and a Popular Science short subject.

In October of 1988, United Artists took over Commonwealth Circuit inheriting the Alliance. In June of 1990, a balcony theatre was added. By 1997, the Alliance was a triplex. It has since become a five-screen operation. Over 100 years later, the former Imperial turned Alliance Theatre was still going likely with foundational elements that date back to the 19th Century Preston Hotel building.

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