Old Movie Theaters

If you like going to the movies and live in the Twin Cities, I have a couple of suggestions for you:

The Heights Theater is the best theater in the city. Period. Here’s what it has to offer:

  • Top-notch projection, in 16, 35 or 70mm, with projectionists who know what they’re doing. (NO DIGITAL!)
  • Fantastic sound, with either Dolby or DTS digital.
  • Wurlitzer Organ performances before shows (if the organist is available).
  • The most beautiful auditorium around.
  • A great selection of first-run movies and frequent festivals featuring classic films.
  • In 2002, the theater was the site for a Guinness world record for most hours of consecutive movie watching. History has been made here! (OK, absurd history, but history nonetheless.)

What’s really amazing to me is that when I was growing up, the Heights was a 99-cent theater and it was a complete dive. At one point, a couple of years before being bought and restored, the corrugated metal façade was painted turquoise. You had to have seen it to understand how bad it was. Since then, new owners have put an enormous amount of hard work and money have into this place. They’ve turned it into such a great theater that I go out of my way to support it and I encourage you to do so as well. Check it out.

My other favorite theater is one that proves money isn’t everything. It’s the Riverview Theater. The Riverview is a discount second-run theater ($2 matinée, $3 regular as of this writing), but it’s in great shape. Unlike every other discount theater I’ve ever patronized, the Riverview is a great place to watch a movie. For starters, it has a great auditorium, an 800-seat monster that is (as far as I know) the largest left in the city. As large as it is, sight lines are great (as the website says, the Riverview has had stadium seating since 1949). The seats are modern and comfortable, the screen is large with good projection, it has all the modern sound equipment, there’s real butter on the popcorn, the prices are great, and to top it off, they usually offer a movie selection that just can’t be beat.

For example, here’s the lineup for this weekend:

Seven movies, in one day on a single screen. Out of the lot, there’s only one that I have no interest in seeing, or at least taking the kids to see (I’ll leave it to you to guess which one I’d avoid).

So, next time you’re in the mood to go out to see a movie, consider either the Heights or the Riverview before running off to the nearest multiplex. I think you’ll be glad you did.

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