Skyway Theatre

711 Hennepin Avenue,
Minneapolis, MN 55403

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Skyway Theatre (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: ABC Theatres

Architects: Henry George Greene

Functions: Concerts, Live Music Venue

Previous Names: Skyway 2 Theatre, Skyway 6 Theatres

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 612.333.6100

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News About This Theater

Skyway 6 Theatres, Minneapolis, MN

When the Skyway 2 Theatre opened in downtown Minneapolis on October 3, 1972, it was the first new movie house built in over 40 years, and would be the last until the late-1990’s, as well. During its early years, it was part of the ABC Theatres chain.

It opened with “Deliverance” in Skyway 1, which sat about 975 and “The New Centurions” in Skyway 2, which sat just over 700. Skyway 1 originally had a small balcony, while Skyway 2 did not.

Unusually, the theatres were not on the street level of the building originally. The cinemas were on the second floor of the building, and named for the city’s once-famed Skyway system, a connecting series of pedways which linked many buildings in downtown Minneapolis.

During the 1970’s, the theatre often resorted to gimmicks to promote movies playing at the Skyway, such as when the adult film “Flesh Gordon” was playing there, and it’s star, Suzanne Field, appeared live to sign autographs in a see through top, or during the premiere of “Bugs Bunny Superstar”, patrons received a carrot with their tickets. A toga party was held in the lobby by college students during the opening night of “Animal House” in 1978.

However, the biggest stunt ever at the Skyway was when the movie “Ice Castles” had its world premiere there, and a stretch of Hennepin Avenue in front of the theatre was blocked off and turned into a temporary ice-skating rink. However, unfortunately, due to unusually warm weather for a Minnesota winter, the ice quickly melted mid-way through the premiere.

On March 28, 1975 a third auditorium was added on the same level as screen 1, and a fourth auditorium was built in former parking space in 1982. Two years later, the original Skyway 2 was twinned, and later that same year, the large original Skyway 1 was also twinned. The theatre was now a six-screen multiplex.

By this time, the Skyway was in falling into decline, and during the 1990’s had a reputation for being poorly run, filthy and dangerous. (During a screening of “Boyz in the Hood” in 1990, fistfights broke out, and outside the theatre, gunshots were fired, wounding seven people).

The Skyway 6 was mercifully put out of its misery in 1999, and with it, the era of Minneapolis' downtown movie houses ended as well. (Three years later, movies would return to downtown when the Crown 15 opened).

The vacant and decrepit former theatre is partly owned by two men, each with a drastically different view of the Skyway and surrounding block’s future. One owner sees the entire block being razed, with a luxury hotel replacing it, while the other sees a restored Skyway theater, perhaps used for art and foreign features. The future of the old theater still remains undecided.

By 2015 it had reopened as a live music/concert venue, which can accommodate audiences from 200 to 2,500 in its various spaces.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft, Mike Geater

Recent comments (view all 31 comments)

googoomuck on April 25, 2011 at 10:52 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.

northstar16 on April 8, 2013 at 9:43 pm

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

DavidZornig on May 21, 2015 at 1:22 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.

DavidZornig on November 24, 2015 at 7:16 pm

1987 photo added © James Orndorf.

Johnmurphy1962 on April 1, 2016 at 3:12 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.

rivest266 on January 15, 2017 at 1:56 pm

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

rivest266 on January 15, 2017 at 2:05 pm

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

Tower2 on May 29, 2019 at 4:56 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!

spectrum on December 8, 2021 at 11:36 pm

Updated link for the BarFly photos:

Supr8 on August 31, 2022 at 12:26 am

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

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