St. Anthony Main Theatre
115 Main Street SE,
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The St. Anthony Main Theatre was built in 1983 by Engler Theaters of Minnesota. It was built as part of the renovation of two Minneapolis city blocks on historic Main Street, transforming old factories and warehouses into a downtown shopping and entertainment center on the Mississippi riverfront.
The theater is constructed as a two-story, slim stacking of five auditoria. Downstairs sits auditorium 1, with 277 seats in a three section floor pattern and auditorium 2, with 222 seats in a center aisle pattern. Upstairs, auditorium 3 sits above #1 with 229 seats (three section); auditorium 4 sits above #2 with 185 seats (center aisle); and auditorium 5 rests above the lobby with 155 seats (three section).
S.A.M. has had an interesting sequence of ownership in its 20 years of operation. Engler Theaters went out of business before the cinema could be opened; as a result, Engler filled the new theater with most of the equipment from their older locations. Seats in #3 came from the IDS skyscraper theatre; the Century C running in #2 came from the old Hopkins 5 Theatre and most of the old mono sound systems from their other locations can still be found stored in S.A.M.
UA purchased the lease & opened S.A.M in early 1984 and operated the theatre until around 1998. At some point, UA installed a Norelco DP70 70mm projector in #1, and stereo sound in #2 and #3. The 70mm sound system and most of the other booth equipment was removed by UA. Reading Entertainment then took over the lease and had plans to redesign the theatre to become an Angelika Film Center, which unfortunately never went through. In 1999, for “Star Wars: Episode One”, the dilapidated DP70 was replaced with a new Simplex XL and a DTS-ES sound system was installed.
After a run of poor management, Reading left S.A.M. in 2003 and local shock cinema archivist Bill Carter, along with Minneapolis developer John Rimarcik, purchased the theatre under the company name Stone Arch Cinemas. Rimarcik had previously redeveloped the St. Anthony Main shopping complex into a business and restaurant center, revitalizing a dwindling interest in the site.
Under Stone Arch Cinemas, well-preserved seats from the Willow Creek Theatre were installed in #2, #4 and #5, a better projector in #5, new amplifiers throughout and major repairs to the rest of the theatre finally gave S.A.M. the first-run audience it deserved. Even despite the opening of Crown’s Block E-15, S.A.M. has remained well attended and preserved downtown, neighborhood, mall and student cinema. Move-over engagements of independent films, festivals, special screenings and Atomic Midnights are held as well.
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