Nov 29, 2022 - News

Des Moines' Fleur, Varsity Cinemas stage comebacks

A photo of the Fleur Cinema.

A new scene is in the works for the Fleur Cinema. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

The Fleur Cinema & Café is staging a comeback, including recent renovations that make one of its theaters easier to use for live entertainment or presentations, owner Michael Coppola told Axios this week.

  • Meanwhile, Varsity Cinema will reopen Dec. 15 after a $5 million rehab.

Why it matters: The theaters were prime places in the metro to catch indie or foreign films prior to their closers.

  • The Fleur remained closed for months after the pandemic peak due to concerns that not enough independent films were being released to sustain business.
  • In recent months, the focus has shifted to advancing the cinema's business model to adapt to evolving movie-watching trends, Coppola said.

Catch up fast: Coppola opened The Fleur in 2001 as the first in Iowa to feature beer, wine and a full espresso bar.

  • It remained edgy for nearly two decades, eventually being named the "Coolest Movie Theater" in Iowa by Cosmopolitan magazine in 2017.

What's happening: Coppola, who now lives much of the year in Arizona, is in talks to partner with a movie theater operating company.

  • He was in Iowa Monday, partly to work on a deal
  • The facility is being leased for special films or live events.

Zoom in: The Varsity, a separate Drake-area theater, closed in 2018. Its revamp was spearheaded by the nonprofit Des Moines Film Society.


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