Forum IV

4080 Merle Hay Road,
Des Moines, IA 50310

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Site of Forum IV Theatre

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The Forum IV was located in the strip mall next to Merle Hay May. It was next to Felix & Oscars Pub. I believe it closed in the early-1990’s and has since been turned in retail space. Currently it is a Hobby Lobby.

Contributed by Rod Morrow

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

Logan5 on January 30, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Officially opened in December 1974, this theatre was known and advertised as the “Forum IV” (note Roman numerals).

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on January 30, 2012 at 6:25 pm

I bet “JAWS” had a long Run.

dallasmovietheaters on September 2, 2015 at 7:41 am

In a space architected by Charles Herbert and Associates, Prestige Jewelers and Distributors was the focal point of a shopping center concept known initially as the Daniels Building and then very briefly as the Prestige Mall. Located next to Merle Hay Mall just beyond its Sears store, Davis Theatres launched the Forum IV Theatres on December 18, 1974 with “Godfather II” and “The Gambler.” The lobby was an ancient Roman concept and signage above the doors used roman numerals and the entries has statues and pillars

But in the porno chic era, Davis was known for its XXX theatres and used the Forum IV for the X titles finding success in 1975. In June of 1975, three of the titles at the Forum IV were “The Happy Hooker,” “The Secret of the Sacred Forest,” and “If You Don’t Stop It, I’ll Go Blind.” And on the other screen — with the Plaza down the way with its giant 60' screen and 700 seat auditorium booked with “Benji” — the Forum had as its fourth offering the Steven Spielberg film, “Jaws.” And with it, the Forum got its traction as the film stayed more than six months all the way to Christmas that year and Davis used the Forum to book mainstream films there. But the XXX fare continued at other theaters and the publicly-held Davis was under the mircoscope for its presentations as well as being in a more competitive multiplex environment that it told stockholders it wasn’t equipped to compete in. So it sold out its theatrical operation in 1976 to the Dubinsky Brothers Circuit.

The Forum lost a lot of its dated kitschy feel in a redesign in the 1980s. And though closure is stated above as being in the early 1990s which may be true, I believe the theatre had a 25-year lease which it made it to the end of. (If it closed in the early 1990s, my apologies.) But I believe the theatre was the first to be equipped with DTS sound in Des Moines and — again — it was Spielberg packing the Forum’s largest screen with the opus “Jurassic Park” in 1993 which did monster business for the theatre with the sound leaking to the neighboring screen. Carmike Theatres became the last operator of the theatre and the Forum IV is one of three theatres in and American with Disabilities Act lawsuit against the chain along with the River Hills Twin and the Sierra 3. Rather than retrofit the theatre which was at and of lease, the Forum IV was closed in June of 1998. The theatre was gutted and retrofitted for other retail purposes.

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