River Hills Theatre & Riviera Theatre

222 Crocker Street,
Des Moines, IA 50309

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Previously operated by: Carmike Cinemas

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River Hills Theatre & Riviera Theatre

The River Hills Theatre & Riviera Theatre is a rare example of two theatres, in the same building, which operated under different names; and not as a twin.

The River Hills side was designed to show single-strip Cinerama films and the Riviera Theatre side was designed to show regular movies in a twin configuration.

The theatres were built by the former Davis Theatres at the same time as the Riviera Theatre in Sioux City.

Sadly, the River Hills Theatre & Riviera Theatre was closed by Carmike Cinemas. It was demolished in March 2002 and the Wells Fargo Arena has been built on an expanded site.

Contributed by Mike Geater

Recent comments (view all 20 comments)

rodmo71 on June 22, 2009 at 6:54 pm

As mentioned earlier, the Wells Fargo Arena now stands where the River Hills/Rivera Twin used to be.

rodmo71 on June 30, 2009 at 6:50 pm

Newspaper ad from the Des Moines Register, May 27,1977

“Begins Tonight! Star Wars. Star Wars will presented with DOLBY SOUND a special new sound system that the River Hills has installed that will astound your mind with the ULTIMATE QUAD SYSTEM. Adults $3.00, Children under 12 $1.25”

Playing at the Riviera Twin- The Godfather and The Godfather Part II.

Cinerama on February 9, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Ads for films playing at the theatre – http://cineramahistory.com/riverhills.htm

JHays on September 13, 2012 at 11:01 am

I use to work there back in the mid to late 70’s! Great memories of when movies ran…for a YEAR! Like Star Wars. I remember the 1 year anniversary. We employees got dressed up like the characters.

Dennis Lynch
Dennis Lynch on May 25, 2016 at 2:45 pm

It may have shown a Cinerama film, but it would have been a single strip print. This theater was not built for the full 3-projector setup. The curved screen was also not deep enough for the full 146º wrap around image. It is not only closed, but sadly, it was torn down years ago to make room for an arena.

CJ1949 on May 31, 2016 at 1:12 pm

Demolished March 2002.

TimReed on April 24, 2020 at 2:36 pm

The “Hills” opened with JJ3 Centurys with Futura II lamphouses. Century 6 track system, 300 watts. Screen was 88 feet with 22 foot depth of the curve providing a 72 foot chord. Screen remaine din place until closing. Sound system was upgraded to CP200 with all accessories driving BGW 250D amplifiers bi-amped with BGW 750D’s driving former Sensurround subwoofers. All stage drivers converted to JBL with 8 Altec A-7 surrounds. Platter sintalled with Strong Super 80 burning 6K bulb. New custom ground Isco lenses replace original Cinerama lens. Riviera side ultimately received the #2 Century JJ3 with CP100 to allow for 70MM move over from the Hills.

MSC77 on October 24, 2022 at 6:10 pm

A chronology of 70mm presentation history in Des Moines has recently been published. River Hills is mentioned numerous times.

MSC77 on December 17, 2022 at 1:01 pm

TimReed: What films played in 70mm on the Riviera side?

TimReed on February 13, 2023 at 10:31 am

MSC77: To my knowledge no 70MM runs occurred on the Riviera side

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