To paraphrase "The Shining," the new operators of the soon-to-reopen Edina Theatre hope audiences will want to keep coming back "forever and forever and forever."
Jack Nicholson says that line in the classic horror movie and he'd probably feel at home when the movie theater, which has been closed throughout the pandemic, returns Sept. 30 — with "The Shining" on one of its four screens. That's because the nearly $2 million remodel boasts quite a few touches inspired by Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of the Stephen King chiller.
That starts at the top, on the third floor of the theater. A bar called the Gold Room — named for the one in "The Shining" where Nicholson's Jack gets a free bourbon-on-the-rocks — sits near the top of the escalator. Bathrooms also carry over design touches from the Kubrick film. And displays throughout the theater allow fans to Instagram themselves into such classic moments as the "Here's Johnny" shock when Nicholson blasts his way through a bathroom door.
Those are the splashiest new touches but, although the layout of the multiplex remains the same (two screens each on the first and third floors, bathrooms on the second), Mann Theatres co-owner Michelle Mann says almost everything else has changed.
"We've literally taken everything pretty much down to the studs," said Mann, noting that the theater had not gotten a make-over since the mid-'80s, when the latest innovation was to stick a cup holder adjacent to the hard, cramped seats.
Those will be recliners now. The four screens will all be slightly larger, although the seating capacity has shrunk (550 total seats, instead of the previous 1,200) because the recliners take up more space. The concession stand will have hot foods such as pizzas and chicken fingers and, hopefully, items from neighboring businesses.
The box office will be reconfigured to alleviate the lobby logjam that used to happen at peak times, and will be supplemented by self-service kiosks. Sound and lighting are being improved. The theater has been updated, in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Even the "Edina" sign, the Art Deco style of which fits with the "The Shining" flourishes, has been refurbished.
Fans who've bemoaned the absence of the theater since it closed in 2020 will find one familiar thing if they look down: the floor.
"People love movie theater carpet! We have so many people who take pictures of their feet or of themselves lying on the carpet," said Mann. "So we wanted to try our best to make sure we kept the original carpet, as long as it was in great condition, and we're finding we'll be able to do so. It's copied after the style of the marquee. Art Deco-looking, with some curves."
Similarly, what's on-screen will mix the familiar and the new. When Landmark Theatres operated the Edina until 2020, it was an arthouse venue that specialized in films aimed at women of a certain age. If there was a new movie that starred Judi Dench, Helen Mirren or Kristin Scott Thomas, it played at the theater. There's a good chance it still will, interspersed with blockbuster titles.
"We will still heavily lean on what has been playing there for years," said Mann, adding that part of what attracted her company to the theater — the deal was finalized in April — was that, like other Mann theaters, it has a faithful niche of moviegoers (for instance, the Plymouth one caters to audiences looking for movies from India).
"We're passionate about this location," Mann said, which began percolating about a year ago, when previous owner Suzanne Haugland approached the Manns — who had owned the theater in the '70s and '80s — about a partnership.
"It started as a casual conversation that turned into, 'Absolutely. We'd love to take over that space,'" said Mann, who's not only eager to attract moviegoers but also employees.
She said her company is "thrilled and honored" to help bring back the neighborhood landmark, which represents a bit of hope in the movies' tough recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. Mann said her other eight Minnesota theaters are doing about 80% of the business they did before the shutdown, roughly in line with box office analysts who are predicting that — buoyed by higher ticket prices — 2022 will finish with about 75% of the 2019 domestic total of $11.4 billion. Even with the lower figure, 2022 still would beat last year's pandemic-squashed $4.4 billion.
Although the Edina will feel like a brand-new theater, Mann said she's also pleased to add a chapter to her company's story, which stretches back to its founding — by grandfather Marvin and great-uncle Ted — in 1935, when the top-grossing films were "Mutiny on the Bounty" and "Top Hat" with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
Much has changed since then, as movie theaters have competed with TV, the home video market and streaming. But plenty hasn't, Mann said.
"It's movie theater popcorn and a Coca-Cola. It's laughing and crying and experiencing all the emotions together, in a great auditorium with a big screen," she said.