Today it was announced that the lease for the AMC Block E Movie Theatre would not be renewed. This effectively means that the Block E Theatre will be closing its doors some time in the next few months.
This is coming just weeks after Steve Mann made public news that the Mann 6 Theatre in St Louis Park was operating under a month-to-month lease and wasn’t expecting to survive for much longer. The closing was considered so inevitable, that the St Louis Park City Council granted Frauenshuh Commerical Real Estate, who holds the lease on the Mann 6 property, the right to make major changes to the building.
With both of these upcoming closing, their will be a major hit to the West Metro when it comes to places you can watch movies. While AMC Southdale and AMC Rosedale still rule the roost to the south and north, you now have just The Heights, St Anthony Main, the ShowPlace ICON and the Landmark Theatres who will benefit from the closures. And of those only St Anthony Main and the ICON look like they will truly be able to siphon off any of the remaining customers, what little there were, from those two establishments.
Of course, Landmark has their own in an effort to coerce issues to handle in the coming months. After the Mpls/St Paul Mgazine wrote a scathing critique on The Uptown Theatre that pulled nary a punch this past August, rumors started to fly that The Uptown would be either sold off to someone who gave a damn or would be shut down for good due to its current state. Thankfully, it appears neither of those will prove true as word is slowly leaking out that their are plans in place for some drastic renovations for The Uptown. Early reports was that the theatre would close just after thanksgiving to chop the theatre up into two separate screens, but those seem to thankfully be nothing more than rumor. But it does look like The Uptown will be closing in the next few months so the building can finally undergo some badly needed renovations. Talk of adding in a beer and wine bar, along with turning the balcony into a VIP 21+ section seem like they might actually come to fruition as well.
Now, when it comes to the Block E closing I really don’t have much of an opinion. The writing has been on the wall for sometime that the theatre wasn’t drawing the numbers that had been anticipated for it to be one of the primary anchors for the complex. Block E has always been a fairly profitable theatre, primarily due to its very advantageous lease, so it can be safely assumed that AMC isn’t going to be all that happy at the loss of the location. That being said, the property owners had been pretty open about their desire to turn the complex into a casino. So it comes as little surprise that they finally took the initiative to sink the entire complex (rumors have floated around for years that Block E must shut down if either the movie theatre or The Graves Hotel closes) in an effort to coerce the City of Minneapolis into giving in to their demands. If I was a betting man, I’d say they have no chance in hell of succeeding. But hey, it’s just people’s jobs and livelihood they are playing with.
As for the Mann 6 in St Louis Park, I have never been much of a fan of the theatre, it being one of the most poorly built and maintained theatres in town. And the Mann brother’s modus operandi of always doing things as cheaply as possible has never sat well with me. That mentality of offering customers and their employees the absolute bare minimum is quickly becoming antiquated, and the Mann’s inability to recognize this means they will have a hard time succeeding in the film exhibitor business in the coming years. While it would be nice if one of the few remaining neighborhood theatres in the metro area survived, the community will be better off without the Mann’s shuffling their feet and bring film exhibition into the 21st Century.
But it is The uptown that I have the most excitement for. It’s a theatre that I am quite fond of, though it was badly in need of renovations when I first moved to the twin Cities back in the mid-nineties. While The Heights, Riverview, and in recent years, The Parkway have started pumping money into returning these theatres to their past glory, The uptown has continued to waste away in spite of the staff’s best efforts (and often times their own hard earned money) to stave off the inevitable. While I can only surmise that the Mpls/St Paul Magazine editorial is what finally convince Landmark to renovate, frankly, I could care less on what started the idea but rather am content in the knowledge that one of the greatest buildings in Minneapolis is finally being given the treatment that it so richly deserves. And the best thing about it? In a few months I’ll be able tor reap the rewards.