Indian Hills Theatre
8601 W. Dodge Road,
8601 W. Dodge Road,Omaha, NE 68114
21 people favorited this theater
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Grand opening ad
Indian Hills Cinerama 21 Dec 1962, Fri Omaha World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska) Newspapers.com
Closed September 28th, 2000 per:
Indian Hills closing 26 Sep 2000, Tue Omaha World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska) Newspapers.com
in 1992, it was taken over by First International, which was owned by Morgan Creek Productions, Svensk Filmindustria of Sweden, Peter Fornstam, an Swedish cinema operator. (Kansas City Star November 6th, 1992 p72(B-2))
A chronology of Omaha’s 70mm presentation history has recently been published. Indian Hills is mentioned numerous times.
Opened with “The wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm” and “In search of the castaways”.
Archived article reissued in January 2014 about Cinerama at Indian Hills with multiple images.
I have three Cinerama projectors and a Cinerama sound reproducer like the ones that were installed at the three Cooper Cinerama Theaters during the three-strip Cinerama days. If anybody would like to see them, please contact me at . I would be happy to show them to you. Or, I’ll be happy to send photographs to you.
My all-time favorite theater. Right down the street from where I lived as a teen on 84th st. Saw Alien there on opening day 5/25/1979. The Shining on 6/13/1980. Wonderfully huge screen, great seating. An icon lost forever.
Theater Houses ‘Round Town Omaha World-Herald (NE) – Sunday, June 16, 1985
8601 West Dodge Road, 393 – 5555. Two screens. (The smaller auditorium is called the Cameo.) Tickets are $2 for showings that start before 6 p.m., otherwise $4 except $2 for those younger than 14 or older than 59. Matinees on weekends and major holidays, and during summer and winter school vacations."
Both grand opening ads has been posted here.
Nice looking theatre,too bad it is gone.Very sixtys looking.
Part two of previous email: The Dome in Hollywood was not originally built for three projectors. They had to remodel to get that set-up. They also have a 35mm/70mm projection system in order to run other types of features. In this day and age there would probably need to be a multiplex attached to run other films to help bring the crowd in. However, there are a lot of Cinerama fans around the country – Each year for the last 8 years when there is a festival at the Dome the theater is full each performance to be able to watch that huge picture and fantastic sound system.
By the way, the Cooper’s (all three including the Indian Hills) had tjhelargest screens in the world. More square footage thatn Imax.
Since I have a set of blue prints to the Cooper Cinerama Theater in Minneapolis which is the same building as the Indian Hills I have been looking for interest in building this again. Now that the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood is doing cinerama festivals each fall and Seattle has done some in the recent years. maybe a group of interested people could get the funds to make this happen again.
I worked as an usher in the Minneapolis Cooper during the mid 60’s.
I would love to see this type of building raise again.
Three generations of my family worked at Indian Hills. I still can’t believe it’s gone, even after all this time. I drive past that empty parking lot all the time and try to imagine it there again. My grandfather worked for the Omaha projectionist union back in the 60s and spent time at Indian Hills. My dad and his brother both worked there as an usher and projectionist. In 1997 I was promoted by First International Theaters and moved to Omaha as Indian Hills Asst Manager. First International sold to Carmike Cinemas, and I moved to the Orchard Theater. My younger brother took my place as Indian Hills Asst Manager. Ironically enough, my uncle on my moms side is a security guard for Methodist Health System. If watch the Preserve Me A Seat trailer, he’s the officer/guard that is escorting someone and putting his hand up to the camera. Just doing his job, but embarassing none the less.
What a shame that such a beautiful-looking theatre was torn down despite so much support for the theatre and protest against its planned demolition came from so many prominent actors/actresses and movie directors alike. It looked like a real oner, if one gets the drift. Greed, greed, greed is what led to i ts demise, that’s clear. One doesn’t have to live, or even to ever have lived in Omaha to be aware of that. It looked as if going to see great film classics in that theatre could be the experience of a lifetime. I’m sure “West Side Story” would’ve looked absolutely spectacular on that great big 105' screen!
Preserve Me a Seat will be shown on Friday, September 14 at the Portage Theater in Chicago, IL as part of the “Preserving Palaces” documentary film festival, along with Uptown: Portrait of a Palace. The festival continues Saturday, September 15 with The Wizard of Austin Boulevard, Loew’s Paradise Theatre, and Memoirs of a Movie Palace. A theatre preservation discussion panel will follow the films on Saturday night. For complete information, visit www.portagetheater.org.
Ironically, Stephen Long, the CEO of Nebraska Methodist Health Systems, who decided the final fate of Indian Hills, is retiring according to a press release on their website, May, 2007. View link
Well, ironically, the viability of the Indian Hills Theatre was actually more due to the fact that it DID have those extra theatres. In this day and age, a freestanding theatre really has to have the public behind it in order to keep it alive, and the truth is that Omaha, as with other past architectural institutions of this city, just wasn’t at the table. There were a few posts in the local paper, but really nothing else. Without any support from the locals(nothing new here), there really wasn’t much ANY preservation group could gain(I know, I’ve worked with several outside of the city). The idea of using the theatre for especially Cinerama purposes was just as naive, though. This held no viability whatsoever in the modern age. The truth be known, though, businesses like the Dodge real estate and the Methodist hospital are simply that-businesses, neither seeing any economic value in a theatre(I choose not to use their reference-‘property’-due to the fact that the historically unique and important structure was not just another ‘property’, as termed by the hospital). Sadly, corporations like these two are never very forward thinking. Their myopia on the historical relevance of this one-of-a-kind ‘property’ will surely follow them into the future.
I actually felt that it may have been able to reopen as an ‘arthouse’ theater. Since Denny Moran’s local Dundee Theatre gave up this bid many eons ago, this city has been in vital need of such a local theatre. However, now, one local native Rachel Jacobsen has received help in creating a new arthouse, north of the Omaha downtown district and Qwest Center Auditorium. Although it will not even be a third of the size of the Indian Hills, Omaha will at least, again, have an arthouse theater to its name. I hear it’s to open next month. Another reasonable suggestion would have been to allow some other business to purchase the property, like a church, for example. I’ve seen several of these midcentury-modern structures receive new life in such a manner(‘new life’ seems rather fitting, actually, in this reference). It would have made a beautiful outlet for such an assembly. However, again, the NP Dodge real estate company moved very quickly on selling the property, without really looking into other buyers. The theatre was right near the hospital and that business wanted it. So, it got it, simply put. Probably a good business move on the hospital’s part. The more of Omaha’s one-time major thoroughfare, Dodge Street, that the hospital gains, the more they believe they’ll only gain more popularity. Ironically, Dodge Street is not what it was once, when it was a major shopping, restaurant, and entertainment district, now quite depressed, with a couple more major businesses nearby only just closing recently. The sale of Indian Hills was more the final nail in Dodge Street’s coffin. Good move on the hospital corporation’s part in beautifying an benefitting its local community, eh?
To answer an earlier query here on the subject of the film “Preserve Me a Seat”, a one-time Omaha resident, one Californian Frank Merwald, who was part of the theatre’s preservation group, filed suit on the film’s producer Jim Fields in 2003, primarily due to the lack of extreme anti-Methodist faire contained in the film. Fields, who was more focused on the study of the theatre and its part in the field of architectural importance in preservation, ironically took the extra time this gave him and widened the scope of the picture, by addressing a wide array of architecturally important theatres around the country, raising the budget of the film a bit, but including now several other unique styles of theatres. Mr.Merwald, an executive television producer in California, in perjuring himself on several counts @ the final hearing of the suit, where he had a ‘support team’ made up of a few of the previous Indian Hills preservationists, finally gave Mr.Fields the red light to premiere his movie. In the meantime, Fields had also produced another documentary, “416”, which had gone on to play a dozen film festivals, garnering several awards. His preservation film, “Saving Indian Hills”, was now retitled “Preserve Me a Seat”, and opened in Nebraskan native Fields' home, to a tri-city premiere in July 2006. It has since gone on to play for hundreds of viewers @ film festivals, as well as other cities, most recently in Springfield, Missouri, raising awareness of this important subject. I find the film both educational and entertaining @ the same time. This is the only real documentary-or handbook, for that matter-on architectural preservation, and vintage movie houses were a perfect example to use. If anyone enjoys these old movie palaces and/or has an interest in preservation, whatever you don’t know about the subject you will surely understand after seeing Fields' film. The DVD is available for a penance, @ $12.99, on his website, apartment101films.com.
As for the Omaha woman who mentioned how her husband was crushed to see the theatre fall that day, I empathize with you. I, too, was present the day the theatre fell-and that scene in the film is still very difficult for me to view. However, view I do. I don’t wish to forget very soon the dangers that can befall any city that offers such an important example of our history. Neither should anyone.
Just a little FYI…as of several years ago anyway, I heard that a LOT of the nicer burgundy seats are in the possessin of the guy who owns the “Dundee Dell” here in Omaha. A bunch of the rust colored cameo seats ended up with the Council Bluffs school district, but apparently they were in really rough/filthy shape. Don’t know for sure if that’s still the case, just trying to share ! BTW – My husband saw Star Wars there for the first time as a kid, so it was a special place to him. When they tore it down, he stood there with tears in his eyes, especially when the roof caved in! It broke his heart! IMHO, the world did NOT need another parking lot!
“THEY PAVED PARADISE AND PUT UP A PARKING LOT”….These lyrics were part of a song dedicated to a historic site in Los Angeles that was plowed under….sound familiar. I was surfing the web looking up 2 old buildings in Los Angeles (pacifics cinerama dome and the pan pacific auditorium) and I stumbled accross Indian Hills. ouch!!!! Same old song, different city. I find this so sad…Los Angeles does very lil to preserve some old buildings….I guess money talks and history is lost. I see a few people on these bulletins have seen the original “SAVING THE INDIAN HILLS”. Does anyone know if there is a copy of this original documentary available???? Or is the entire footage of this documentary included in “PRESERVE MY TICKET” ???? Or was some footage of the original edited out in the cut of “PRESERVE MY TICKET”??? Does anyone know why that one guy who was originally part of the move to save INDIAN HILLS sold out and took sides with METHODIST HEALTH???? What were the details as to the legal hassle for trying to block the screening of the original documentary???? Sounds like a bunch of hogwash to me!!!!
Liked the movie very much……….
This new review of “Preserve Me a Seat,” which features the efforts to save Omaha’s Indian Hills Theatre appeared yesterday. Here’s the link:
This weekend Nebraska Public Radio will broadcast a story about the documentary, “Preserve Me a Seat” and The Indian Hills Theatre. You can listen to the story online following this link:
After 5 years of work and one lawsuit that lasted 3 years and was finally dismissed in my favor, I’m thrilled to announce that my documentary, “Preserve Me a Seat” will premiere next week in three Nebraska cities: Wednesday, July 26th at 7:30pm in Grand Island, Nebraska at the historic Grand Theatre, Thursday, July 27th, at 7:00 pm at Omaha’s last single screen theatre, The Dundee, and Friday, July 28th at 7:00 p.m. at the Mary Riepma Ross Media Center in Lincoln, Nebraska on the UNL campus. The documentary has also been chosen as the opening night film for the upcoming Estes Park Film Festival in Colorado, Sept 15-17th.
Here’s some links to news articles about the premiere so far:
For more information about the documentary, which will also be available on dvd for only $12.99 next week too, please visit:
It’s a damn shame that the only old theater in Omaha still showing films is the Dundee…at least the Orpheum and the Astro were saved…and people are chomping at the bit to close the Dundee so they can have the space for retail because it is on Dodge St… the rest have been erased forever by the greed of the city, just like the Indian Hills…