Reporting Mark Rosen
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – For decades, the Uptown Theatre had a charm of its own, but after so many years the historic movie house became a dump.
All that, however, is about to change this weekend. Six months after going dark — and $2 million later — the Landmarkoperated theater will be ready to open its doors on Friday afternoon.
In the age of multi-plex, family-focused cinemas, the Uptown is playing catch up while simultaneously maintaining its old-school, mature charm. The original chandeliers, which have been in place since 1939, remain, as do the theater’s signature murals, which line the theater’s walls.
Inside the theater itself, some of the most impressive renovations come with the seats. The Uptown has actually downsized, going from 950 tattered seats to 350 new ones. The seats are spacious and provide enough legroom that movie-goers don’t have to stand up to allow for passers-by. There’s also a VIP section in the balcony, which holds about 100 seats, including sofas.
And moviegoers don’t have to worry about all the good seats being taken before they arrive. All the seats in the theater will be reserved.
Michael Fant, the vice president of construction and development for Landmark Theatres, said it was interesting to work within the confines of the historic building.
“I get a lot of people coming [to the theater] saying how nice it used to be,” Fant said. “And once they come back, I think they’ll see how nice it is again.”
The theater’s screen is about double the size, and those time-honored 35-millimeter independent film cans have been replaced by the now in vogue – and very expensive — digital projectors. The Uptown has a Barco 4k digital projector that, according to Landmark’s chief engineer Bobby Parry, produces an extremely fine image.
“The picture should look like a painting on the screen,” he said.
The Uptown’s two bars will serve local beers, wine and cocktails to go with popcorn or made-to-order pizzas.
The Uptown will kick off its reopening weekend with the independent comedy “Sleepwalk with Me.”
Landmark said not many tickets remain for the theater’s first week, but ticket availability can be seen online.