Well, it’s been a long time coming, but it was finally officially announced that The Uptown will be closing on January 31st for remodeling. Granted, this “rumor” has been floating around since as long as I’ve been living in the Twin Cities (which would be just short of 17 years now) and probably long before that. Each time the rumor has surfaced its been quickly dismissed as Landmark has never been known as a company that reinvests much in its properties.
So year after year the staff at The Uptown did what it could to keep the building functioning. Painting, repairing and dealing with the unending string of complaints about the seats. What? You mean they are uncomfortable? I’m shocked that 30 year old theatre seats aren’t in pristine condition. And frankly, you didn’t go to The Uptown for good seats, sober customers and short lines. You went because they consistently showed the best movies in town in one of the most iconic buildings in the Twin Cities.
You went there because it was better than any other theatre in town.
Of course, over the years the perception of The Uptown changed, as did the belief on what was the best theatre. The Lagoon became the crown jewel of the Landmark empire, The Heights underwent a magnificent transformation and The Riverview quickly became the apple of everyone’s eye, while The Uptown struggled to become anything but a running joke to the Minneapolitans that dared set foot on the dangerous streets of Uptown Minneapolis.
The Uptown still showed the best movies, and before anyone else in town, and in recent years they worked their ass off at programing one of the more interesting midnight madness campaigns that you were likely to find anywhere in the country. But the odds were always against The Uptown. Landmark had little interest in fixing up the theatre, so instead they were content in running it into the ground. And for years that seemed to be good enough for Landmark.
That is, until a few months ago when the Mpls/St Paul Magazine finally admitted out loud just how much of a joke The Uptown had become. Sure, their were still plenty of fans of that great old building, myself included, but The Uptown had ceased being a destination spot for years.
Now, no one knows what exactly set a fire under Landmark’s ass to make some changes. It’s easy to assume it was the magazine article, but like I said before, rumors of The Uptown being remodeled have been around for years. But come January 31st the rumors will suddenly become fact.
Now I first heard about The Uptown closing back in September. Originally they were going to close it just after Thanksgiving and hopefully open early in the new year. That plan never came to fruition and for a short time it began to look as if this was once again more smoke being blown towards our collective asses. But come December the rumor was quickly transformed into fact, as again and again I was told that The Uptown was closing, and sooner rather than later.
Sure enough, soon after the first of the year I received word that the Uptown renovations were finally finalized. The theatre would operate until January 31st, and then renovations would begin the next day. Managers and staff were being reassigned, and more than one source confirmed that this was finally going to happen.
But what struck me as odd, was the veil of secrecy that shrouded these events. Why no report from the Star Tribune? Why nothing from Landmark? Hell, why no grand celebration at The Uptown itself, honoring both its memory and its new lease on life?
This is The Uptown after all. It has been around for something like 3000 years, been set on fire and been a vessel for John Holmes’ schlong on countless Saturday nights. And now, finally after 33 years of ownership, Landmark has decided to return The Uptown to its former glory, and become the first theatre in Landmark’s Independent Exhibition Empire to be entirely digital. So why the reluctance to tell everyone?
Could it be that they still haven’t finalized their plans for The Uptown? Or maybe they have no idea if they’ll re-open by the June 1st date they’ve set but won’t openly say? Could it be that they are worried about public backlash of the remodel? Maybe they didn’t want their competitors to know until the last possible minute? Or maybe they simply had to wait for final approval from Mark Cuban, the man who just last year put the entire company up for auction/.
When it comes down to it, the reason for why they decided to remodel, and why they tried to keep it so damn secretive really don’t matter. What does matter is The Uptown is finally being put front and center.
Where it rightfully belongs.