The Edina Theatre marquee has been a landmark and mainstay in the Edina community since 1934. But in 2020, it seemed this iconic theater may have met the end of its nearly century-long life when Landmark Theatres ended its lease.
The City of Edina, recognizing the importance of this arthouse theater to the community, went in search of new tenants to take over the theater. Mann Theatres, a Bloomington-based movie theater chain, jumped at the opportunity to lease the space from building owner Suzanne Haugland in the fall of 2021. A three-generation, family-owned business that’s been around since 1935, the Mann family actually owned Edina Theatre from 1979–1982. And they’re very excited to be back at the helm.
“We cannot wait to welcome back Edina and the Twin Cities to a spectacular movie-going experience at the Edina Theatre,” says Michelle Mann, co-owner of Mann Theatres. “This is a historic theater to the city of Edina, let alone the state of Minnesota. So, when we were presented with the opportunity to possibly be back in the space after leaving it in the ’80s, it just made sense for us. Mann Theatres … is family owned. So, we’re very passionate about any type of project that brings the community together … to be back in the iconic space is very special for us.”
Rather than immediately reopening, the Mann family decided to undertake a major restoration and renovation of Edina Theatre—adding modern upgrades like luxury heated recliners, new flooring, new screens and new sound systems, giving the auditoriums a fresh look. New concessions and restrooms were next on the list. But they also sought to restore some of the vintage charm of this 1930s Art Deco-style theater.
However, Mann says one of the updates she’s most excited about is the addition of The Gold Room, a bar designed to emulate the ballroom of the same name in the movie The Shining. The bar will feature a selection of local beer, as well as hand-crafted cocktails and wine.
“It will truly be one-of-a-kind … you truly will feel as though you are stepping into the movie while sitting at the bar alongside Jack Nicholson,” Mann says, noting The Shining has a classic cult following, and her vision for the bar was to make it an Instagrammable space and experience. Even the second-floor bathrooms resemble the famous film, designed after The Red Bathroom in the movie. And the family bathroom is designed after The Green Bathroom in Room 237 in the film. Two physical installations inspired by iconic scenes from The Shining are also part of this immersive experience, providing the perfect backdrop for photos.
And what types of movies are showing at the new and improved Edina Theatre? Moviegoers can watch blockbuster movies alongside arthouse and independent films. Mann says they wanted to create a space that welcomed families while also continuing to make space available for “the following that [Edina Theatre] has had traditionally for the past 25 years.”
But they also wanted to take things one step further—making it “a destination that you’re going to want to go to because you feel like you’re on a movie set,” Mann says. And this truly was the goal in all of these updates—to make a night out at Edina Theatre a true experience for moviegoers. “You can see movies anywhere, including, of course, your home,” Mann says, adding, “So we’re going to offer a space for people that’s going to make this a [unique] destination.”
But one thing that didn’t change amid all these updates? The exterior. The theater keeps its classic Art Deco feel, with the iconic city sign and marquee. In the City of Edina’s written history of the Edina Theatre, it says, “An important example of public art in its own right, the sign defines the historic character of the 50th and France commercial district, where it evokes a strong sense of community identity as well as nostalgia.”
The current Edina Theatre marquee is actually a replica of the original, built in 1934 for the opening. The sign had to be restored in the early 1980s by the Mann family when they originally ran the theater after a tornado tore through downtown Edina in 1981, destroying the original.
This restoration was so successful that in 2002 the Edina Heritage Preservation Board, according to the City of Edina, “found that the reconstructed theater sign was the property’s most historically significant architectural feature and determined it alone was eligible for Edina Heritage Landmark designation as a historic object … The 2004 Edina Heritage Award was presented to the owner of the Edina Theatre in recognition of the careful reconstruction of the historic sign. The attention to detail, referring to the original 1934 plans during reconstruction, resulted in a sign that continues to prominently identify downtown Edina.”
While the current restoration largely looks the same as the marquee Edina residents know and love, Mann says they retrofitted it with new LED lightbulbs to make it more eco-friendly. It also got a new paint job, restoring it to its original red and white colors, making “that strong statement that Edina’s downtown needs,” Mann says. “It was looking kind of drab, and we wanted to give it the love and justice it deserves.”
After months of construction, renovation and restoration, along with a few delays, the theater held its grand re-opening on September 30. The architecture and design plans were made by Vanney Associates, while the building updates were completed by Jaeger Construction.
“We’re just beyond excited to be back in the space and offer a place where this great mixture [of people] is going to be coming through,” Mann says. “It’s really exciting.”
The Edina Theatre is one of eight Mann Theatre locations in Minnesota, with two locations in St. Paul, as well as theaters in Plymouth, Champlin, Grand Rapids, Hibbing and Baxter, each owned by the Mann family.