Indian Hills Theater

8601 West Dodge Road,
Omaha, NE 68114

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Indian Hills Theatre - interior

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The Indian Hills Theater was built by Richard L. Crowther and was one of just a handful of theaters designed especially for Cinerama in the 1960’s. When it debuted in December 1962, it featured a 105-foot screen (the largest in the US). Under later management, the theater was expanded to two, and then four screens, by building screens adjacent to the main one.

Carmike Cinemas closed the Indian Hills in October, 2000, as it was supposedly one of many under-performing theaters the chain was forced to shed. Unfortunately, the theater was just months away from completing a major renovation that included new seats, drapery, and an SDDS/DTS-capable sound system.

Efforts to restore the theater back to its Cinerama roots with a 70mm projector were unsuccesful when Methodist Health Systems purchased the theater. Announcing in June, 2001 that the building would cost over $1 million to renovate, Methodist decided to demolish the theater despite numerous protests from all over the world and from such luminaries as Leonard Maltin, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Ray Bradbury and many more.

The Indian Hills theater was not only an Omaha landmark, but a treasured reminder of the architecture of the time and the exuberance that such technology inspired in the 60’s.

Contributed by Bruce Crawford, Larry Karstens, Steven Dawes

Recent comments (view all 48 comments)

mp775
mp775 on August 28, 2007 at 1:28 pm

Preserve Me a Seat will be shown on Friday, September 14 at the Portage Theater in Chicago, IL as part of the “Preserving Palaces” documentary film festival, along with Uptown: Portrait of a Palace. The festival continues Saturday, September 15 with The Wizard of Austin Boulevard, Loew’s Paradise Theatre, and Memoirs of a Movie Palace. A theatre preservation discussion panel will follow the films on Saturday night. For complete information, visit www.portagetheater.org.

MPol
MPol on June 20, 2009 at 7:13 pm

What a shame that such a beautiful-looking theatre was torn down despite so much support for the theatre and protest against its planned demolition came from so many prominent actors/actresses and movie directors alike. It looked like a real oner, if one gets the drift. Greed, greed, greed is what led to i ts demise, that’s clear. One doesn’t have to live, or even to ever have lived in Omaha to be aware of that. It looked as if going to see great film classics in that theatre could be the experience of a lifetime. I’m sure “West Side Story” would’ve looked absolutely spectacular on that great big 105' screen!

RichS
RichS on July 11, 2009 at 11:28 am

Three generations of my family worked at Indian Hills. I still can’t believe it’s gone, even after all this time. I drive past that empty parking lot all the time and try to imagine it there again. My grandfather worked for the Omaha projectionist union back in the 60s and spent time at Indian Hills. My dad and his brother both worked there as an usher and projectionist. In 1997 I was promoted by First International Theaters and moved to Omaha as Indian Hills Asst Manager. First International sold to Carmike Cinemas, and I moved to the Orchard Theater. My younger brother took my place as Indian Hills Asst Manager. Ironically enough, my uncle on my moms side is a security guard for Methodist Health System. If watch the Preserve Me A Seat trailer, he’s the officer/guard that is escorting someone and putting his hand up to the camera. Just doing his job, but embarassing none the less.

mheaton
mheaton on September 12, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Since I have a set of blue prints to the Cooper Cinerama Theater in Minneapolis which is the same building as the Indian Hills I have been looking for interest in building this again. Now that the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood is doing cinerama festivals each fall and Seattle has done some in the recent years. maybe a group of interested people could get the funds to make this happen again.
I worked as an usher in the Minneapolis Cooper during the mid 60’s.
I would love to see this type of building raise again.
MHeaton

mheaton
mheaton on September 12, 2009 at 2:47 pm

Part two of previous email: The Dome in Hollywood was not originally built for three projectors. They had to remodel to get that set-up. They also have a 35mm/70mm projection system in order to run other types of features. In this day and age there would probably need to be a multiplex attached to run other films to help bring the crowd in. However, there are a lot of Cinerama fans around the country – Each year for the last 8 years when there is a festival at the Dome the theater is full each performance to be able to watch that huge picture and fantastic sound system.
By the way, the Cooper’s (all three including the Indian Hills) had tjhelargest screens in the world. More square footage thatn Imax.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on March 3, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Nice looking theatre,too bad it is gone.Very sixtys looking.

rivest266
rivest266 on December 6, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Both grand opening ads has been posted here.

TorstenAdair
TorstenAdair on January 31, 2012 at 11:26 am

Theater Houses ‘Round Town Omaha World-Herald (NE) – Sunday, June 16, 1985

“Indian Hills

8601 West Dodge Road, 393 – 5555. Two screens. (The smaller auditorium is called the Cameo.) Tickets are $2 for showings that start before 6 p.m., otherwise $4 except $2 for those younger than 14 or older than 59. Matinees on weekends and major holidays, and during summer and winter school vacations."

70s_moviegoer
70s_moviegoer on March 15, 2013 at 11:52 am

My all-time favorite theater. Right down the street from where I lived as a teen on 84th st. Saw Alien there on opening day 5/25/1979. The Shining on 6/13/1980. Wonderfully huge screen, great seating. An icon lost forever.

Denvercary
Denvercary on March 22, 2014 at 6:36 pm

I have three Cinerama projectors and a Cinerama sound reproducer like the ones that were installed at the three Cooper Cinerama Theaters during the three-strip Cinerama days. If anybody would like to see them, please contact me at . I would be happy to show them to you. Or, I’ll be happy to send photographs to you.

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