Assessing the loss of Uptown and Edina

I don’t live in the Twin Cities metro area. The Uptown Theatre and Edina Cinema weren’t my go to places to see movies, mainly since I live a four hours drive north of them.

Despite not being a frequent visitor to these two locations, though, the nearly 20 times I did watch a film at either theater were very memorable. Plus, many of the films were quite good.

That’s what makes their closure hard to stomach.

I went through my LetterBoxd account and my social media to track down the films I saw there and I believe I came up with a full list of what I viewed.

At the Uptown, I watched:

  • “Jackie,” 2016 Top 10.
  • “The Disaster Artist,” 2017 Honorable Mention.
  • “Call Me By Your Name,” 2018 Top 10.
  • “Boy Erased,” 2018 Honorable Mention.
  • “Mary Queen of Scots” in 2018.
  • “On the Basis of Sex,” 2018 Honorable Mention.
  • “Jojo Rabbit,” 2019 Top 10.
  • “Dark Waters,” 2019 Honorable Mention.

At the Edina Cinema, I watched:

  • “The Danish Girl” in 2015.
  • “Carol,” 2015 Top 10.
  • “Trumbo” in 2015.
  • “Manchester by the Sea,” 2016 Top 10.
  • “Loving” in 2016.
  • “Lion,” 2016 Honorable Mention
  • “Elle,” 2016 Top 10.
  • “Last Flag Flying,” 2017 Honorable Mention.
  • “Lady Bird,” 2017 Top 10.

Out of the 17 films I watched at these theaters, seven earned spots in top 10 lists for their respective years, while I put six of them in the honorable mention category. That’s 13 movies that ended up being some of the best those years had to offer.

Even the films that didn’t make my best of the year lists were still pretty good and regularly offered stories and artistry that isn’t always found at a multiplex.

Having those types of theaters to show these pictures is something any film lover can truly appreciate, and having two of them go away is a real gut punch. I may have seen less than 20 films at these locations, but I could tell by walking through them, and watching the captivating films they’d show, just how integral they were to the Twin Cities’ art scene.

When looking at both of them, one aspect that was a real positive was how different they were, despite being operated by the same company and being located in the same area.

The Edina Cinema definitely was a movie house that had some age, and it was rather charming. Inside, there was an old escalator that you’d hear operating once you walked in that would take you up to the upstairs screening rooms.

One of the screening rooms at the Edina Cinema.

The screening halls themselves were also in a classic design. A sloped set of seats for one to settle into for a few hours. The good upkeep of the theater made it feel like taking a step back in time.

That was true with the outside, too, especially with the cinema’s iconic Edina marquee sign giving off its signature orange glow. Stepping into this theater always felt good, and riding that escalator up to see the movie would build some excitement.

The Edina Cinema’s marquee.

The Uptown, meanwhile, was a beautiful mix of modern and old-fashioned. The marquee is even more iconic than Edina’s, standing tall in the enjoyable uptown area of Minneapolis. Inside, the theater is huge, even including a balcony.

While it’s structurally old-school, though, the movie palace felt up to date with comfortable seats, as well as modern sound and visual equipment. Watching a movie there was downright special.

The entrance to the Uptown Theatre.

There really wasn’t a bad seat in the house, and a sense of anticipation seemed to always be in the air, as many of the movies shown when I’d go there were often in the awards race.

The Uptown Theatre’s screening room.

For me, trips to both theaters were especially adventurous. As previously stated, I live far north of the area and the award caliber films don’t always come to more rural communities, so it was a time investment whenever I’d visit.

In 2015, I saw “The Danish Girl,” “Carol” and “Trumbo” at the Edina Cinema, and then stayed overnight at a hotel. The added factor of traveling to these spots made them feel even more momentous.

One of my visits to the Edina Cinema.

It was the same in the following years, too. After seeing “La La Land” at the nearby Lagoon Cinema, I went to the Uptown to see “Jackie” before going back to a hotel for New Years Eve.

One day I even went to both theaters. In 2017 I saw “The Disaster Artist” at Uptown, then drove across the area to Edina for “Last Flag Flying” and “Lady Bird.”

I took another trip later that year, too. In 2017, I left Bemidji around 6 a.m., and drove to Minneapolis just to make it in time to watch “Molly’s Game” at the Lagoon before seeing “Call Me By Your Name” at the Uptown.

Seated for a film at the Uptown.

When that was done, I hopped back in the car and went north to catch “The Shape of Water” and “Darkest Hour” in St. Cloud, Minn., before driving back to Bemidji when those were done. I ended up getting back home around 1 a.m.

Despite trips to both of these theaters requiring a good deal of travel, it actually made them a bit memorable to me. Having the anticipation build on the road, seeing many movies that were nominated and won awards, plus enjoying the restaurants in the areas around both theaters, all made the Edina Cinema and Uptown Theatre places I cherished.

I’m pleased to see that the Lagoon Cinema will remain open. However, I am also hoping that films will be screened at both Edina and Uptown again in the future.


Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

3 thoughts on “Assessing the loss of Uptown and Edina”

  1. I never went to the Edina location, but I’m going to miss the Uptown. I don’t live in the Twin Cities either, but I often went to movies at the Uptown (and the Lagoon) when I visited. I really enjoyed that theater. Sad to hear it’s closing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really was a wonderful cinema. Had the comfort of a modern multiplex but the atmosphere of a classic movie palace.


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