Uptown Theatre to reopen after facelift

Uptown Theater remodel
The newly remodeled Uptown Theatre features new seating with more legroom, plush oversized balcony seating and a larger screen with digital projection. The Uptown Theatre, which originally opened in 1913, reopens to the public Friday, Sept. 14, 2012.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

Minneapolis' iconic Uptown Theatre will reopen after a $2 million, six-month renovation. Workers are putting final touches on the theater, which opens Friday.

Landmark Theatres is bucking the trend of shuttering small art theaters with a renovation that blends historic preservation and updated amenities.

Now, a digital projector shows movies on a bigger movie screen, and viewers can watch from a sofa on the balcony. The theater's murals and chandeliers were preserved, But the dark-green colors of the interior were replaced with yellows and reds. The 900-seat theater now has 350 plush seats with extra legroom. The renovated lobby has flat screen televisions instead of posters. The concession stand is now a bar that serves alcohol and a wider array of food.

The Uptown marquee was also restored. Its beacon will soon shine for the first time in decades.

Landmark Theatre's publicist, Hugh Wronski, was assistant manager at the Uptown in the 1990s. He had mixed feelings when he first heard the newly renovated theater would offer reserved seating through the Internet.

"I'm kind of an egalitarian guy, you know - first-come, first-serve, line up to get your seat," Wronski said. "But the biggest problem at the Uptown over the years has been people show up an hour early worried about getting in and having nowhere to put them and making them line up along the block. Even when it was very cold or very hot, or rainy.

"So I think the reserve seating really is going to be something people like."

Wronski said he used to get complaints about the worn seats.

"An older audience did go away from the Uptown over the years. And we want to get them back," Wronski said. "So, to older people who've complained about springs in your butt: we want you back."

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