Remember this movie theater?
Although it wasn't quite a "blink and you'll miss it" business that opened one year and closed the next, the Southdale Cinema (6901 France Aveune South) certainly didn't have the longevity of the Edina Theater at 50th and France (more than 75 years and still going strong) or even the Westgate Theater that lasted more than 35 years at Sunnyside and France.
Southdale Cinema survived about 14 years. It opened in 1966 as the first twin movie theater built in Minnesota (according to Cinema Treasures web site) and included an art gallery. In 1975, the theaters were divided to make four auditoriums.
The Southdale area business photos that we've been running on the past several "Photo Friday" posts prompted some readers recall the long gone cinema, which closed in 1990. Reader Jeff Strate gave me the link to these photos on Zeke Rice's Flickr site, and Zeke graciously granted permission for us to use them in the blog.
"My first job was at Southdale Cinema in Edina, MN, a fun mid-century theater that was built in 1966. I was working the last night it was open, August 16, 1990, and these are some pictures I took that night. The next day we had this horrible parade where the employees marched to the new theater, Centennial Lakes. Nothing like marching through a suburb in polyester uniforms. The Galleria mall expanded to this space after it was torn down. The final quality films that played: Die Harder, Air America, Arachnaphobia, Ducktales and Pretty Woman," he wrote on his Flickr site.
It was my first job, and I think I started there in 1989. At the time the fabulous mid-century design didn't stand out to me, but looking back now I just love it," he emailed.
Mid-century design is now considered pretty hip, thanks to shows like Mad Men, lights like these and the color orange has made a comeback. Zeke pointed out that movie theater seats were displayed in the lobby to promote the new location (and new comfy seating) at the Centennial Lakes theater.
Zeke took photos of his fellow employees the last night.
I wonder what the 1990 prices of concessions were?
"The day shift at the theater during the week was always pretty quiet, with only three people working (other than the manager): the box office (ticket seller), usher (ticket ripper), and concessions. The regular, day-time usher was an older man named Bill, who I remember being a little afraid of at first, but soon discovered he had a sly sense of humor - and a bit of a temper if someone tried to get in without getting their ticket ripped," Zeke continued.
"One day they was a flurry of excitement when the manager got a phone call - he told one of the employees to go to one of the back doors that exited directly from the auditorium to the parking lot. A few minutes later, I saw a rather short man and a scantily clad woman cross from one auditorium to the next - it was Prince, going to see a movie and attempting to be anonymous," Zeke wrote.
It wasn't the theater's first brush with fame; according to Cinema Treasures web site, Francis Ford Coppola screened Apocalypse Now there and got a lukewarm reception.
Centennial Lakes 8 (below) opened in 1990, and closed a couple of years after Southdale 16, another AMC theater, opened basically next door in 2001.
Zeke said he would ask other coworkers for their stories about Southdale Cinema and Centennial Lakes. What are your memories? If you have information about these theaters or any others in Edina (Yorktown Cinema Grill, France Avenue Drive-in), please comment here or email me.
Thanks to Zeke Rice for his photos and stories. Thanks also to Jeff Strate, who discovered Zeke's photos.
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