Sherburne History Center

Sherburne History Center
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Friday, February 3, 2017

Elk River Movie Theaters: A New Type of Entertainment

Entertainment and technology took a great stride forward in Elk River in 1913 when motion pictures and movie theaters illuminated the city.  In that year two theaters, “The Elk Theater” and “Blanchett’s”, presented silent movies in Elk River.  By 1915, a third theater, the “Royal Theater,” opened its doors.  These years marked the beginning of a new age in entertainment in Elk River.

In November of 1913, the Elk Theater advertised the silent short movie “Return of Crime,” dramatic crime and punishment movie featuring the young British actress Barbara Tennant.  By 1914, the Elk presented full length silent movies such as “The Last Days of Pompeii.”  Admission prices to the hour long movie was 15 and 25 cents, the matinee appeared to be a less expensive ticket than the evening showing. 

Newspaper advertisement in the Star News,
December 2, 1915, just a week after the grand
opening of the Royal Theater
Meanwhile, the Sherburne County Star News reported “Blanchett’s” presented motion pictures.  Although the newspaper failed to note the movie shown, the reporter noted “the pictures were clear, distinct and drew a packed house.” 

The Royal Theater, the third theater in Elk River, opened its doors in November 1915.  Promising “something new every night,” the Royal presented a matinee at 2:30 in the afternoon, and a 7:30 evening show.  “We are showing some high class pictures,” the advertising promised.  The opening night premiered the movie, “The Shadows of a Great City,” a silent movie first created as a play, and later a British silent movie before the American version release in 1915. 

Like so many businesses the movie houses of Elk River struggled to gain a solid base.  The surviving theater, the Elk Theater, continued to present motion pictures into the 1940s and on.  Providing entertainment to Sherburne County residents for several decades.

Schedule of movies for the month of
December, 1945 at the Elk Theater

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