Riverview Theater

riverview theater



There’s not a whole lot that floats my boat more than spending two hours watching a great film enveloped in the scent of real-buttered popcorn at a theater that feels like it is trapped in the mid-1950s. Yeah, yeah, I think I have a problem too. But honestly, watching a film at Riverview Theater gives me just that pleasure, and for the price of a small McDonald’s coffee! This is easily my all-time favorite movie theater to visit with my children (or a girlfriend or – gasp – my husband). Built in 1949, it sits on a quaint corner in South Minneapolis in all its brick-and-mortar glory, donning your classic light-up marquee and only accepting cash, and is decorated in a way that resembles June Cleaver’s living room. The drinking fountain is copper, the tiles are green, and the lamps and furniture make me miss my grandmother.  You literally step back in time when you walk through the doors (including dirt cheap ticket prices) but it’s kept up on one important aspect of movie-viewing: technology! The sound is fantastic, the screens are quality and the seats are comfy as hell. And worth its own stand-alone mention: THE POPCORN.

riverview theater

What is it?
Riverview Theater has been around since 1949, gaining national attention for its then-trendy decor and unique space. It has stood the test of time making major updates to their technology but only minor ones to their look and feel. The glass doors open to a concession stand with images of dancing popcorn boxes and colorful lights that resemble an old-school diner. There are two sitting areas, both with much of the original 1950s furniture, marble tabletops and large glass windows. This theater only has one auditorium so schedules its movie playtimes one at a time, with earlier times usually reserved for childrens movies and late shows for the adult flicks. There are plenty of concessions and the theater has ample room for seating and leg room. It’s really just a comfortable place to spend a couple hours of you time (or you+kids time). 

riverview theater

Fit for what ages?
Obviously, only you know what age you think your tykes will be able to handle sitting through a movie in the theater, so this one’s your call. I recently brought all three of mine to a screening of Trolls and, while the 5- and 7-year olds sat through the whole thing, munching on their kids combos, I had to remove the 14-month old (duh) to the lobby to run around because, yeah.

What’s nice is that I had no worries leaving my older two in the theater because there is only one auditorium so if they came out, I was right there to find them. Plus, we bopped in and out a number of times to check on them since (during kids films) no one seemed to care if a baby made a few noises now and again. They do offer booster seats for those with little legs and the bathrooms are in the main lobby area for those with little bladders.

riverview theater

riverview theater

How much are we talkin’?
Riverview Theater is a CASH ONLY venue. There is an ATM immediately inside the door, so don’t panic if you forget this tidbit, but it’s just so much easier to arrive with cash on hand.

Admission per movie is $2 for all ages for all matinees. Children (ages 11 and under) and seniors (62+) are $2 all day and adult rates go up to $3 for evening shows (except Tuesdays, where all shows are $2 and do not fluctuate in the evening). Confusing? Maybe a little. But at 1/5 of the price of other movie theaters, the extra dollar for adults in the evenings is certainly not going to be a deal breaker for me.

Then there’s the food. I’m going to be completely serious here and just say that I would pay the $2 admission to be allowed in to purchase the popcorn and just sit in the lobby. POPCORN. SO. NOM. The refreshment rates are pretty darn reasonable for a theater experience. Sodas range from $2-$3.25 and popcorn from $3-$4.25 (just get the big one…don’t mess around). While they also sell nachos, candy, coffee and slushies, our crew usually just buys one of their great combo deals. The “Kids Combo” is our favorite. Each kid gets to pick their own drink, popcorn and choice of candy for only $4.50. Plus, no fighting over anything because they get their own individual tray. If it’s just me and Nate for date night, we pick up the “BIG Combo” with 2 large drinks and a large popcorn for $10 (don’t judge).

Why do I love Riverview Theater so much? Because we can go as a family of five for an evening adventure and leave with two hours of entertainment under our belts and full tummies…for $25.

riverview theater

Want some tips?
Bring cash! This is my big tip. While Riverview Theater has an ATM, it’s just easier to not have to leave line to get money, then get back into line. If you’re there on a weekend or a school’s-out day, show up at least 20 minutes early if you can. The line can get long and has led outside before, so to avoid freezing temps or impatient kids, get there a little early to get your tickets and your snacks and just let them run around the large lobby area to kill time.

The theater doesn’t announce exactly what will be playing until the week before, so I suggest signing up for their email list if your family is the regular movie-going type. Otherwise, be sure to check the homepage of their website for current films before heading out (and notice their “coming soon” section with movie titles of upcoming shows but no specified dates).

The Kids Combo is the best deal around when it comes to children and their theater snack obsessions! For a measly $4.50, your kids get to pick their own candy + a drink + a popcorn all in an individualized tray they can set in their lap and enjoy without needing to share with their siblings.

Yes, they have booster seats available for kids who need a little, um, boost. We found these in one of the wooden cabinets in the lobby area. Feel free to ask a staff member for one too, as I’m sure they have access to them as well.

riverview theater

The women’s bathroom has a nice lounge area for potential nursing or just waiting while your kids do their duty. Also, if the little ones get restless during the movie, the lobby areas are exceptionally spacious so they can keep busy tooling around there.

The staff has always been very kind and helpful and they do a wonderful job of keeping the place clean and retro-feeling while moving patrons in and out between very tightly-timed shows.

OH – and something that I think is very fun and unique – they host special events here! They’ve hosted movie premiers, sporting events and special speaking engagements. And right now it’s Oscar season, so keep an eye on their Special Screenings page for their Academy Awards event viewings (I can’t be the only nerd who gets in to this kind of thing, right?)

After the movie, consider bopping across the street for a cup of coffee or yummy treat at the Riverview Cafe. Bonus for parents? There’s a mini play area there too!

Last tip: Get the popcorn. Did I already mention this? POP-CORN!

riverview theater

Hours and location
3800 42nd Ave S  |  Minneapolis, MN 55406

Check the website for movie times.

Riverview Theater is located on the corner of East 38th Street and 42nd Avenue in Minneapolis. Parking is mostly free in the area, but can be a little difficult at times. Definitely not a reason to not go though.

Be sure to follow Riverview Theater on Facebook for special event announcements, discount deals, holiday movie listings and more. Also, sign up for their email list to never miss a showing of your favorite flick for cheap!

You Might Also Like