Like most things in Minneapolis, we do movie theaters a little differently here. While there are plenty of big-name theaters to choose from for the latest releases and superhero-branded tubs of popcorn, the city’s smaller, independently owned and historic theaters offer so much more: throwback favorites, popcorn with real butter, and special events from musical sing alongs to marathons, all inside neighborhood gathering spots jam-packed with vintage character. You’ll never want to go back to the mall megaplexes again.
Searching for a truly budget-friendly movie night? Search no further than this mod theater in the Longfellow neighborhood, showing new releases, not-so-new releases, Lord of the Rings Trilogy Marathons, and holiday classics in December with proceeds going to food banks. With $2 Tuesdays and $3 tickets every other day, you can’t help but feel like you’re getting the “friends and family” rate whenever you go (P.S. it’s cash only, so plan ahead). Be sure to grab some popcorn—topped with real melted butter—and don’t miss their annual Oscar-nominated short film marathon each January.
Across the Stone Arch Bridge from Downtown Minneapolis lies Saint Anthony Main Theatre, the year-round home of The Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul showing new release films along with serious film-buff screenings, niche film festivals, and lighter events like the annual CatVideoFest. Grab $5 tickets and $3.15 popcorn or soda each Tuesday, and make it a full night with dinner at the ultra-charming Aster Café before or after your show.
Catch a foreign film or a midnight showing of a cult classic—think Rocky Horror Picture Show, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, and Cowboy Bebop—at the century-old Uptown Theatre, opened in 1916 (making it one of the oldest theaters in the Twin Cities still standing). Grab a pint of Grain Belt Nordeast in the Upstairs Bar before the show, and bring it into the theater to enjoy during the show. Around the corner from the Uptown Theatre, Lagoon Cinema shows limited release indie films (in other words, all those Oscar nominees that don’t play at the cineplex). Both Uptown and Lagoon are managed by Landmark Theatres, America’s largest theatre chain dedicated to exhibiting and marketing independent films.
A small, intimate nonprofit theater with just 90 seats, Trylon in the Longfellow Neighborhood is a cinephile’s paradise showing classic and international films six nights a week, primarily on Century Model SA 35mm projectors. Expect silent movies with score performed by live musicians, classic horror films around Halloween, and a lovingly curated calendar of films you just won’t see anywhere else. Local tip: Trylon is cash-only at the door, but you can buy advance tickets (without any fees!) online.
The newly renovated Parkway—which got a total facelift in 2018—hosts live events and throwback movie screenings, making it a one-stop entertainment destination in South Minneapolis. Catch documentary debuts, storytelling competitions, screenings of the original Star Wars films, local album releases, and tribute bands showcasing tunes from Neil Diamond to Queen to Pink Floyd.
Launched in 2008, this Northeast Minneapolis “underground microcinema” in the Casket Arts Building specializes in independent films and documentaries hosted inside host Mark Wojahn's studio. Films typically take place on the first Thursday of every month at 8pm, coinciding with Casket Arts’ open studio hours every First Thursday from 5-9pm—so you can stroll through a wide variety of maker studios and get your fill of local art pre-screening. Donations are accepted to cover the cost of film rental and projector bulbs, with any extra going to local charities.