Film-Tech Cinema Systems


The Har Mar Theatres in Roseville, MN, USA is a 1970’s landmark to many. It was originally constructed as a Twin with a 540 seat auditorium and a grand 900 seat auditorium. Of course as multi-plexes began to dominate, filling a 900 seat auditorium was next to impossible. Har Mar underwent its first major makeover by splitting the large auditorium into two. From the booth (which I forgot to nab a picture of) you can still see the large projection glass window spanning both auditoriums 2 and 3. The auditoriums themselves are long and narrow as a result of this change. As I am told, cinema 2 still uses screen material from the gigantic original silver screen. In the mid 80’s, United Artists built an 8-plex only about a mile down the road. So, then owner General Cinema, captured the opportunity to buy a vacant grocery store in the mall and converted it into 8 additional screens. Due to the mall’s layout, physical attachment between the two theatres was not possible and thus, Har Mar Theatres is comprised of two separate buildings. Running a “brother/sister unit” provides some interesting hurdles not found in single structure buildings. From a customers’ standpoint, trying to figure out which building your movie was playing in was a constant battle--especially during the chilly winter months in Minnesota. Even when it wasn’t below freezing, being a projectionist in a building like this was a major headache. If you were in one building and a projector went down in another building, you were royally screwed. Moving film from one theatre to another was another great annoyance. The pictured “Pearl Harbor” had to be broken down into reels and rebuilt since it would not fit on our movie-movers. Imagine carrying a 2 ˝ hour movie on your shoulder down a flight of stairs, out onto an icy sidewalk, and up another set of stairs. 1. The Har Mar Theatres at night is a sight to see. Hundreds of cascading lights trim the sides of the building with a randomly blinking “Har Mar” sign above. The word “Theatre” doesn’t do anything, and actually reads Theatres with an “S”, but we could never get the go-ahead to fix it. The electronics to run these lights was constantly breaking and due to its proprietary makeup, electricians would have to be quite creative to fix them. Anyone want a job changing light-bulbs?

January 2004 photo from the JC Cowles collection.

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