Uptown Theater closing for renovation next week

  • Article by: COLIN COVERT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 25, 2012 - 8:56 PM

The old moviehouse's interior will get new seating, a new screen and other improvements.

The Uptown Theater, built in the Streamline Moderne style, dates to 1939, with a 1960s remodeling.

Photo: Tom Wallace, Star Tribune

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No one could fault a grand dame for indulging in a facelift, even if it means she's out of circulation for a couple of months.

Landmark Theatres will close Minneapolis' historic Uptown Theater on Jan. 31 and reopen it several months later, after renovating and refurbishing the auditorium.

The theater chain will add amenities including a giant screen, luxury seating, digital projection, a full-service bar and an expanded concession stand. Its 50-foot exterior tower and marquee, a neighborhood landmark, will remain as is, and the theater's popular balcony will be retained.

For some film fans drawn by the theater's selection of first-run foreign and art films but appalled by its decrepit seats and Spartan lavatories, the nip and tuck is long overdue. In August, Mpls.St.Paul magazine devoted a column to the theater's decline, calling it "a dump."

Said Landmark CEO Ted Mundorff: "In a day when most single screens are closing, I am truly honored to not only keep the Uptown alive, but oversee the complete transformation into what will be Minneapolis' premier movie theatre."

The last day of operation before construction begins is Tuesday. No renovation budget was given.

Landmark expects to reopen the theater in the spring. The chain has operated the 900-seat theater since 1978.

The Uptown's site on Hennepin Avenue originally was home to a theater called the Lagoon that opened in 1913 and was renamed the Uptown in 1929. It was damaged in a fire.

The current theater, designed in a classic Streamline Moderne style by the firm Liebenberg and Kaplan (which also was responsible for the nearby Suburban World theater), dates to 1939. It underwent a remodeling in the late 1960s. The theater has been given landmark status by the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission. It is not listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Colin Covert • 612-673-7186

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