Skyway Theatre

711 Hennepin Avenue,
Minneapolis, MN 55403

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Showing 1 - 25 of 31 comments

Supr8 on August 30, 2022 at 11:26 pm

It’s open but not as a movie theater. Does that qualify for it to be designated “open” for the purposes of the site?

spectrum on December 8, 2021 at 10:36 pm

Updated link for the BarFly photos:

Tower2 on May 29, 2019 at 3:56 pm

I saw the movies Freejack & Hook here one night in January 1992, while waiting for an intercity bus. I remember the theater and the block were pretty well run down, and there were very few other patrons. I remember dirty red carpet, a rather cramped and dingy second floor lobby, and two rather unmemorable movies.

My most notable memory of the evening came at the end of the night. It was later than I thought when the show ended, and I had to run as hard as I could down the street to catch my bus as it headed out of town (plan B was a night on the sidewalk). Oops!

rivest266 on January 15, 2017 at 1:05 pm

March 28, 1975 grand opening ad as a 3-plex also in the photo section.

rivest266 on January 15, 2017 at 12:56 pm

This opened as a twin on October 3rd, 1972. Grand opening ad in the photo section.

Johnmurphy1962 on April 1, 2016 at 2:12 pm

In 1975, a ground floor third auditorium was added in what had originally been indoor parking, and was itself twinned in 1982. This is not correct. auditorium 3 was on the same level as 1. It was down the hall from the ticket taking station. Auditorium 4 was built in the parking space as described. I was working there as a Manager when it was built.

DavidZornig on November 24, 2015 at 6:16 pm

1987 photo added © James Orndorf.

DavidZornig on May 21, 2015 at 12:22 am

1974 photo added, credit Eric Sutherland for Walker Art Center. Skyway marquee in the background in this enlarged photo. Original full size photo on the State Theatre page.

Also below is the website for the Skyway’s current tenant. Copy & paste to view.

northstar16 on April 8, 2013 at 8:43 pm

Bar Fly webpage has current photos of the former theater’s space.

googoomuck on April 25, 2011 at 9:52 pm

I worked at the Skyway Theater from 1974-76. It had 2 screens when I started & they added the 3rd & maybe the 4th by the time I quit. At that time the Skyway, Gopher, Academy, World, State & Orpheum were all showing first run movies. Suburban theaters started showing first run movies combined with an increase in crime killed downtown movie theaters.

BTW the Exorcist opened at the Gopher, it played the Skyway 2nd run some time in 76. I scared the bejebus out of 3 girls when I told them they couldn’t smoke just as the bed started shaking.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 18, 2009 at 12:19 am

The June 14, 1971, issue of Boxoffice Magazine ran an item about the groundbreaking for the Skyway I and II complex. The new house was designed by ABC’s consulting architect of the period, Henry G. Greene.

Aparofan on March 22, 2009 at 7:41 am

Here’s a 1997 shot of the Skyway.

View link

kencmcintyre on January 31, 2009 at 9:12 pm

Here is some recent news about a possible new tenant:

MinnesotaJones on January 14, 2009 at 10:10 am

I remember that news story about “Boys N'the Hood” as well. But prior to that, in my high school years in the early 1980’s, the Skyway was a great theater! I still remember when it was 4 screens back then. I saw many great 1980’s movies there: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Trek III, Nightmare on Elm Street 3, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Fly, E.T., Total Recall, Back to the Future, and many more! Their main screen/auditorium was enormous. The last movie I saw in that auditorium before it was split in two was Return of the Jedi. As the 1990’s came, downtown on Hennipen wasn’t as nice anymore and I quit going to the Skyway. But I’ll never forget that theatre!

Supr8 on December 28, 2008 at 1:25 pm

Ken, what was the craigslist item? CL ads expire.

Here’s a photo of the theater from late summer July 2007:

View link

elicoats on July 16, 2008 at 11:35 am

I’m not sure what the writer meant by “…named for the city’s once-famed Skyway system, a connecting series of pedways which linked many buildings in downtown Minneapolis.” With the use of the past tense, the implication seems to be that the Skyway system no longer exists. On the contrary, the Skyway (fondly known as the ‘Habitrail’ in these parts) is alive and well and – as far as I know – still-famed!

LordLione on December 14, 2007 at 6:44 pm

One of my fav. jobs of all time…I was one of the mgrs. there from 1986-1994 (The man with the long jet black hair in a ponytail…). I could write a book with the events and the people who graced the building….

As far as the above blog, I remember Kinnison walking in…I ran in the office and handed him a cartoon of him and Dice (It was well known he hated Dice Clay). I also remember him topping off his popcorn with the jalapeno peppers from our condiment stand…

legsdiamond on November 21, 2007 at 7:39 pm

One of my favorite memories of the old Skyway was when my friend and I sat in front of the late comedian Sam Kinnison and his entourage at a screening of “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle”. They hooped and hollered back at the movie and soon my friend and I joined in. (We were the only people in the theater for a matinee). They liked us and comped us into his show later that evening at the Orpheum across the street. Not my thing, but I liked getting in free.

Pretty terrible theater at the time…musta been 1990 or 91….

KJB2012 on September 20, 2007 at 5:10 pm

Just how dangerous the Skyway theatre was in the 1990s, depended I suppose on what they were screening. However the July 1992 murder of Jitu Jones near the theatre during the run of “Boyz ‘N the Hood” was no local “racist” (good god is everything “racist?”)urban myth. It happened. The killing certainly kept regular folks away. Once people hear about a killing or a riot, they tend to stay away.

When the house closed in ‘99, it was long past its prime.

davmpls on August 10, 2007 at 10:24 am

I don’t agree with the characterization of the Skyway as some sort of grindhouse. It was not. It was a First Run theater that showed all the standard Hollywood product, including the Blockbuster hits. They had lines around the block during the Nineties for hit films. They also showed art house fare and cult items. It was not a sleaze-house and did not book second run films or double features at all. It was popular with all kinds of people. It definitely had character (and characters!), but it was not “poorly run, filthy and dangerous” by any means. And the Boyz N'the Hood anecdote is a local racist Urban Legend. No such incident took place at the Skyway.

The original Skyway 1 auditorium (sadly, minus its balcony) was one of the best screening rooms in the city.

tjo on September 8, 2006 at 7:08 pm

There is another reason for the unusual design of the Skyway Theater. ABC Theaters built the main theater on the second floor because they did not own one-half of the land over which the structure was built. About one half of the land housed the old ABC Lyric Theater, which was a first fun theater operated by ABC for showcase first runs in the 1960’s. That theater was demolished by ABC and the Skyway was its replacement. About one-third of the site was owned by the Dayton-Hudson Corporation, which was an old time, department stote and shopping center developer. They were acquring downtown land for parking expansion in the 1950’s and 60’s. ABC used their land for a surface parking lot in the new building. The smallest lot piece housed Danny’s Bar, which later reopened on the first floor as the Skyway Lounge. The bar building was also demolished for the new building. The theater was designed by a New York City architectual firm; however, I don’t know if their original design is what was actually built there, or not. The Screen One’s interior seats, draperies, carpeting, and color scheme almost identically matched the interior of the Astor Plaza Theater in New York City in 1978. The years 1972-1976 were incredibly difficult years for the cinema exhibition industry with very little good product coming out of Hollywood studios. The local offices of Plitt North Central were on the fourth floor of the building, along with a standalone screening room with large white rocking highback chairs that was rented by all of the big studios' film exchanges. It was built with the intent to lure the four film exchanges across the street on the 2nd floor of the aged Mann Theater building over to the new ABC building. There were two additiional floors of office space above the fourth floor. After four years, the white chairs were slipcovered. The Skyway held a few sneak previews in the 1970’s and comment cards were given out to the audience. Also, the local acid rock radio station sponsored midnight movies on Friday and Saturday nights at the Skyway. One of Mr. Plitt’s sons was briefly a manager at the Skyway in 1975, but was soon transferred to a large single Plitt theatre in Phoenix, AZ.

Jesse Hoheisel
Jesse Hoheisel on August 24, 2005 at 8:35 am

They turned it into a dance club called Barfly. The marquee is still there, though.

RobertR on June 2, 2005 at 1:11 pm

The whole theatre is still sitting there intact?