River Hills Theatre & Riviera Theatre

222 Crocker Street,
Des Moines, IA 50309

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TimReed on February 13, 2023 at 11:31 am

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

MSC77 on December 17, 2022 at 2:01 pm

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

MSC77 on October 24, 2022 at 7:10 pm

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

TimReed on April 24, 2020 at 3:36 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.

CJ1949 on May 31, 2016 at 2:12 pm

Demolished March 2002.

Dennis Lynch
Dennis Lynch on May 25, 2016 at 3:45 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 146ยบ wrap around image. It is not only closed, but sadly, it was torn down years ago to make room for an arena.

JHays on September 13, 2012 at 12:01 pm

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.

Cinerama on February 9, 2012 at 1:50 pm

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

rodmo71 on June 30, 2009 at 7:50 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.

rodmo71 on June 22, 2009 at 7:54 pm

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

Coate on May 18, 2009 at 4:03 pm

The Cinerama exhibition history in Des Moines posted here.

Coate on April 7, 2009 at 5:59 pm

River Hills is famous for being the host venue for the Des Moines area exclusive booking of the original “Star Wars.” The movie ran for 29 weeks in the River Hills auditorium (May 27-Dec. 13, 1977), and then when replaced by “Close Encounters Of The Third Kind” it moved to the Riviera auditorium, where it ran for another 27 weeks. The combined 56-week run is, I believe, second only to the 113-week roadshow run of “The Sound Of Music” (at the Capri) as the longest-running movie in Des Moines exhibition history.

Coate on April 7, 2009 at 5:37 pm

Sorry, Chuck1231, I don’t have any info on the screen size or dimensions.

Coate on March 25, 2009 at 11:56 am

RIVER HILLS did not open with “2001: A Space Odyssey” as claimed in the post above. It opened with a reserved-seat run of “Mediterranean Holiday” on April 19, 1968. (“2001” followed the booking of “Mediterranean Holiday on June 26, 1968.)

The RIVIERA half of the complex opened a week before the RIVER HILLS half on April 12, 1968, with the debut attraction being “Where Angels Go…Trouble Follows.”

edigman on July 18, 2008 at 7:43 pm

I very much miss the River Hills Theater, with its huge curved screen, and spaceship blue-green metal flaked vinyl upholstery. It opened in 1968 with “2001: A Space Odyssey”. I remember the day I saw that movie there, and the year, because, after the movie let out, I walked a short distance downtown, and happened to meet presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy, who was coming out of a building on Grand Avenue after giving a speech. When the building was torn down, I retrieved several of the letters that spelled out “River Hills” and “Riviera”, and a small piece of the wall, which I still have.

Calmuse on September 26, 2007 at 7:27 pm

There was huge curving screen (90-foot?) on the River Hills side and an excellent sound system. Both theaters were upscale by the standards of 1960s-1970s structures with large lobbies and comfortable seats—not at all like the little boxes in cineplexes.

Although I was a minor at the time, I got in to see “The Godfather” at the Riviera (accompanied by a parent). Also saw “2001” at the River Hills there when it first played in Des Moines. When I lived in the area again in the ‘80s, both theatres were still screening first-run top-drawer features (“Gandi,” for example).

RobertR on December 6, 2004 at 9:46 pm

Thanks Charles, what confused me was in the second paragraph it says “the Riviera twin side” so I thought the non-Cinerama side had 2 screens.

RobertR on December 6, 2004 at 8:58 pm

Am I reading this wrong or would this have made it a triplex?

zooklaw on December 6, 2004 at 7:32 pm

The buliding was to be demolished, last year, to make way for the new convention center/arena. And yes, the cinerama screen was still in place at close.

RobertR on February 21, 2004 at 12:46 pm

Was the Cinerama screen still in place when it closed?