Merle Hay Mall Cinema

3800 Merle Hay Road,
Des Moines, IA 50310

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Carmike Cinemas, Tri-State Theaters

Architects: Henry George Greene

Previous Names: Merle Hay Plaza Theater

Nearby Theaters

Merle Hay Mall Cinema (Formerly Plaza III), Des Moines, IA

The Merle Hay Plaza Theater was opened by Tri-State Theatres on January 28, 1966 with Richard Burton in “The Spy Who Came In From the Cold”. It was equipped to screen 35mm, CinemaScope, 70mm, Todd-AO and single strip Cinerama. It was closed in the late-1980’s. It reopened a few years later as the Merle Hay Mall Cinema. It was closed December 15, 2014.

(Not to be confused with the Flix Brewhouse which opened in the Merle Hay Mall on December 17, 2014 and has its own page on Cinema Treasures).

Contributed by Mike Geater

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

rodmo71 on June 22, 2009 at 5:15 pm

Before it “officially” re-opened in the fall of 1993, they had special screening on the four weekends leading up to to the grand re-opening to test the new sound systems. They showed The Empire Stirkes Back, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Top Gun and Days Of Thunder. Also they will occasionally show limited-run (one week) revival screenings in the spring and fall between tentpole season. One of those was Lawrence Of Arabia and I got to see it in all of it’s 70mm glory.

And yes, it is still the biggest regular theater screen in Des Moines. The only one larger is the IMAX Dome that opened downtown a few years ago.

Logan5 on January 27, 2012 at 10:36 pm

The Merle Hay Mall Cinema was formerly the “Plaza Theatre” – when it opened c. 1967.

rivest266 on July 25, 2012 at 4:32 pm

This opened as Plaza on January 28th, 1966. I uploaded it’s grand opening ad in the photo section.

rayman29 on May 27, 2013 at 8:25 am

I am sad that this theatre will close. The new theatre at Merle hay sounds nice, but this has such a great sized screen. Sad to see another single screen theatre with a big screen go away. I wonder what they will do with the space once it closes.

Chris1982 on November 12, 2014 at 11:58 pm

This theatre should be listed as closed.

rayman29 on December 4, 2014 at 8:58 pm

The theatre is still open for a little over another week. Their last day is December 15th. Wish I could make it, but I’ll be too late. I don’t want to see Hunger Games, but since I won’t make it anyway the point is moot. It would be cool to buy one of the seats.

Chris1982 on December 15, 2014 at 10:07 pm

Tri States Theatres opened this theatre.

Logan5 on June 8, 2016 at 4:22 pm

Des Moines Register article about the 2014 closing:

Mike Gallagher
Mike Gallagher on October 2, 2017 at 9:31 am

What is the current status of this wonderful big screen theater? I am still angry that the River Hills and Reviera are both gone. Don’t get me started about the Paramount downtown. Has the MH Cinema been stripped out completely? Is it even still standing?

rayman29 on October 2, 2017 at 10:44 am

The space is vacant, but the building is still standing. To the best of my knowledge, the chairs were sold, but I’m not sure about the projector or the rest of the theatre.

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