Skyway 6 Theatres

711 Hennepin Avenue,
Minneapolis, MN 55403

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Skyway 6 Theatres, Minneapolis, MN

Viewing: Photo | Street View

When the Skyway 2 Theatre opened in downtown Minneapolis in 1972, it was the first new movie house built in over 40 years, and would be the last until the late-1990’s, as well. During its early years, it was part of the ABC Theatres chain.

It opened with “Deliverance” in Skyway 1, which sat about 975 and “The New Centurions” in Skyway 2, which sat just over 700. Skyway 1 originally had a small balcony, while Skyway 2 did not.

Unusually, the theaters were not on the street level of the building originally. The cinemas were on the second floor of the building, and named for the city’s once-famed Skyway system, a connecting series of pedways which linked many buildings in downtown Minneapolis.

During the 1970’s, the theater often resorted to gimmicks to promote movies playing at the Skyway, such as when the adult film “Flesh Gordon” was playing there, and it’s star, Suzanne Field, appeared live to sign autographs in a see through top, or during the premiere of “Bugs Bunny Superstar”, patrons received a carrot with their tickets. A toga party was held in the lobby by college students during the opening night of “Animal House” in 1978.

However, the biggest stunt ever at the Skyway was when the movie “Ice Castles” had its world premiere there, and a stretch of Hennepin Avenue in front of the theater was blocked off and turned into a temporary ice-skating rink. However, unfortunately, due to unusually warm weather for a Minnesota winter, the ice quickly melted mid-way through the premiere.

In 1975, a ground floor third auditorium was added in what had originally been indoor parking, and was itself twinned in 1982. Two years later, the original Skyway 2 was twinned, and later that same year, the large original Skyway 1 was also twinned. The theater was now a mutliplex.

By this time, the Skyway was in falling into decline, and during the 1990’s had a reputation for being poorly run, filthy and dangerous. (During a screening of “Boyz in the Hood” in 1990, fistfights broke out, and outside the theater, gunshots were fired, wounding seven people).

The Skyway 6 was mercifully put out of its misery in 1999, and with it, the era of Minneapolis' downtown movie houses ended as well. (Three years later, movies would return to downtown when the Crown 15 opened ).

Today the vacant and decrepit former theater is partly owned by two men, each with a drastically different view of the Skyway and surrounding block’s future. One owner sees the entire block being razed, with a luxury hotel replacing it, while the other sees a restored Skyway theater, perhaps used for art and foreign features. The future of the old theater still remains undecided.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft, Mike Geater

Recent comments (view all 23 comments)

elicoats
elicoats on July 16, 2008 at 5:35 pm

I’m not sure what the writer meant by “…named for the city’s once-famed Skyway system, a connecting series of pedways which linked many buildings in downtown Minneapolis.” With the use of the past tense, the implication seems to be that the Skyway system no longer exists. On the contrary, the Skyway (fondly known as the ‘Habitrail’ in these parts) is alive and well and – as far as I know – still-famed!

Supr8
Supr8 on December 28, 2008 at 7:25 pm

Ken, what was the craigslist item? CL ads expire.

Here’s a photo of the theater from late summer July 2007:

View link

MinnesotaJones
MinnesotaJones on January 14, 2009 at 4:10 pm

I remember that news story about “Boys N'the Hood” as well. But prior to that, in my high school years in the early 1980’s, the Skyway was a great theater! I still remember when it was 4 screens back then. I saw many great 1980’s movies there: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Trek III, Nightmare on Elm Street 3, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Fly, E.T., Total Recall, Back to the Future, and many more! Their main screen/auditorium was enormous. The last movie I saw in that auditorium before it was split in two was Return of the Jedi. As the 1990’s came, downtown on Hennipen wasn’t as nice anymore and I quit going to the Skyway. But I’ll never forget that theatre!

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on February 1, 2009 at 3:12 am

Here is some recent news about a possible new tenant:
http://tinyurl.com/d2vctd

Aparofan
Aparofan on March 22, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Here’s a 1997 shot of the Skyway.

View link

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 18, 2009 at 6:19 am

The June 14, 1971, issue of Boxoffice Magazine ran an item about the groundbreaking for the Skyway I and II complex. The new house was designed by ABC’s consulting architect of the period, Henry G. Greene.

googoomuck
googoomuck on April 26, 2011 at 3:52 am

I worked at the Skyway Theater from 1974-76. It had 2 screens when I started & they added the 3rd & maybe the 4th by the time I quit. At that time the Skyway, Gopher, Academy, World, State & Orpheum were all showing first run movies. Suburban theaters started showing first run movies combined with an increase in crime killed downtown movie theaters.

BTW the Exorcist opened at the Gopher, it played the Skyway 2nd run some time in 76. I scared the bejebus out of 3 girls when I told them they couldn’t smoke just as the bed started shaking.

northstar16
northstar16 on April 9, 2013 at 2:43 am

Bar Fly webpage has current photos of the former theater’s space.

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