August 26, 2009

Edina Cinema Celebrates 75 Years

I'm extremely late in highlighting this, but for those who haven't been following along with the local calendar, tomorrow marks the beginning of festivities celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Edina Cinema. I never went to the Edina growing up here, and had it not been acquired by Landmark Theatres in 2003, that would probably still be true. But since moving back, I've have to visit it with some frequency. The new releases definitely lean toward foreign, documentary,and generally more "mature" films (Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg instead of Inglourious Basterds), but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

More to come in a future edition of Local Theater Love, but in the meantime here is a copy of the flyer outlining the weekend events, as well as a history of the theater taken from Cinema Treasures. It was submitted by one Bryan Krefft and in the comments you will find some corrections and links to older photos of the theater. Matt Gamble may have an insider's perspective as well:

"The Edina opened in 1934, seating 1300, and was designed by the firm of Liebenberg & Kaplan in flamboyant Art Deco style. It cost between $80,000 and $100,000 to erect. At the time, it was the largest theater in suburban Minneapolis.

Though initial reaction by the citizens of Edina to a glitzy movie house was mixed at best, especially to a glittering marquee in downtown Edina (which was remedied by switching the design of the marquee from a standard canopy marquee to a tower marquee), it was an almost immediate success.

The Edina boasted all of the most modern technology of the day, including hearing devices for the hard of hearing. However, it also featured enough glamour and luxury to remind patrons of the downtown movie palaces of earlier years, such as a large stage, a 300 seat balcony and seating for 1000 on the orchestra level, air-conditioning, a large fireplace in the lobby for the cold Minnesota winters, murals in the lobby depicting old Edina, stylish Art Deco furniture, and even a nursery for children.

In 1951, during a severe wind storm, the towering marquee was bent in half but soon repaired. However, three decades later, when a twister hit Edina, the theater's marquee was totally destroyed, but was recreated in 1981 and is now a listed historic landmark.

The Edina was twinned and remodeled in 1976, and it was planned that the Edina 2 would now screen art and foreign fare; however, this wouldn't actually come to fruition until much later. In the late 70s, the Edina was triplexed.

In 1988, the theater's then-operator, Cineplex Odeon closed the Edina 3 and all but its Art Deco landmark facade and marquee were torn down. A modern, two level fourplex was built behind the facade, opening in 1989.

Loews Cineplex shuttered the Edina in January of 2003, but in March 2003, the theater was acquired by the Landmark Theatres chain, and finally became the art house that it was originally intended to become in the late 70s."

I plan on attending the world premiere of Into Temptation tomorrow night, and hopefully at least one of the weekend shows. The Edina may not be my first theater of choice in the Cities, but it has history and its own charm, and all things considered it's a pretty impressive achievement to last 75 years in the movie theater industry. So I say, Happy Birthday.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails