Pantages Theater

708 Hennepin Avenue,
Minneapolis, MN 55403

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1937 photo & copy credit Bryce Merriman.

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Pantages Theater was built as a vaudeville theater, opening on October 27, 1916.

By the 1920’s, the Pantages Theater switched to a mostly-movies format.

RKO extensively remodeled the house in 1946 renaming it the RKO Pan Theater from April 20, 1946. The remodel was carried out to the plans of Sebco Inc.

It was bought by Ted Mann in 1960 and remodeled into a 70mm roadshow house, opening in March 1961 with “Spartacus”.

The Mann Theater was one of the plushest cinemas in the Midwest. It closed in 1984 and was purchased by the city. After a complete refurbishment it reopened on 7th November 2002 as a live theatre.

Contributed by Kirk

Recent comments (view all 20 comments)

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on January 11, 2007 at 9:51 am

John Gregory Dunne’s book about 20th Century Fox in the mid-1960’s, “The Studio”, features a long and hilarious account of the first preview of the 1967 “Doctor Dolittle” at this theater. The Fox executives came to realize they had a real stinker on their hands, but so much money had been spent on the picture that no one was about to (or allowed to) admit that.

KJB2012 on August 2, 2007 at 9:06 pm

I must come to the defence of Ted Mann. It’s true Mann had no interest in restoring his cinemas back to the world of the 1920s. But one needs to remember the times. The 1950s and 60s were an age when anything old and classy was targeted to be razed.
No where was this more true than in the movie house business. Mann took over the Shubert in 1957 (it was called the Alvin in those days). He renamed it the Academy and equipped it for Todd-AO. Yes he ripped out the old 1910 boxes and all.
He did the same with the Pantages in 1961 (then called the RKO Pan).
But the bottom line was that Mann kept the theatres of downtown Minneapolis alive during a decade when the wrecking ball was just around the corner.
From what I read, there was NO INTEREST in Minneapolis in restoring any buildings in the 1950s and 60s.
Had Mann not done the remodels et al, I expect that the Shubert, Pantages, and Orpheum theatres would have been razed by the end of the 1960s. I haven’t read about any other Minneapolis theatre owners much interested in the downtown scene.
So even though Mann didn’t plan it this way, Minneapolis today has the Orpheum, State, Pantages and Shubert because he kept downtown alive long enough for the houses to survive into the age of restoration.
So I think we should give Ted Mann credit for that.

JohnFaust on August 2, 2007 at 9:27 pm

Mr. Besse is absolutely correct. Thank heavens for all the theatre owners in so many US cities that “modernized” these theatres in the 50s and 60s so they could be fully restored — and truly upgraded — for our current appreciation and use. Think of the Cutler Majestic (Emerson College) in Boston, for example!

zimmee66 on January 16, 2009 at 1:22 am

Back in the 80’s I had friends who lived in this building, quite illegally. It was by then a half abandoned third-rate office building.

My friends had to pretend that they were “artists” with “studios” (they were, actually)—but slept there too. The problem was, there were no showers, and only a regular office type bathroom down the hall.

The mann company screening room was still intact, but Mann were simply waiting for the city to buy them out. and didn’t care a whit what happened to any of it.

CSWalczak on April 1, 2010 at 7:17 pm

There is a picture of the theater as the RKO-PAN here: View link
The theater’s official gallery page has many pictures of the theater over the years; it is here: View link

Redwards1 on September 21, 2014 at 8:48 pm

Like it or not, the huge silver & lavender tiered curtain Ted Mann installed over the proscenium opening was one of the most spectacular ever created, with color intensity increasing gradually from the pale center to its left & right edges. He followed Boston’s Ben Sack playbook, remodeling old downtown theatres into first-run 70mm roadshows.

Coate on March 24, 2015 at 5:37 pm

It was 50 years ago today that “The Sound of Music” premiered at the Mann. With a reserved-seat run of 95 weeks, it’s almost certainly the long-run record holder for this venue. (Anyone know of something that ran longer?)

Also, on a related note, I would like to mention my new 50th anniversary retrospective for “The Sound of Music” can be read here. It includes a film historian Q&A and a list of the film’s roadshow engagements. I hope fans of the movie and/or theater buffs enjoy the article.

DavidZornig on May 21, 2015 at 3:20 am

Winter `68 partial marquee photo added. Photo credit Denny Schwartz, courtesy of Gary Schwartz.

DavidZornig on May 21, 2015 at 3:55 am

Great 1977 photo added courtesy of William Burleson.

DavidZornig on November 25, 2015 at 12:24 am

1987-88 photo added © James Orndorf.

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