For nearly a century, the Dundee Theater has been a central part of Omaha’s film and arts community. After closing in 2013, the theater’s future was uncertain—until the property was purchased by the Sherwood Foundation and donated to Film Streams.
Under the ownership of Film Streams, a local nonprofit arts organization, the Dundee Theater reopened in December of last year. This move effectively doubled Film Streams operating space, which was previously operating a single cinema in downtown Omaha.
Located at 4952 Dodge St., the Dundee Theater is sporting a sign based on the one it bore in without taking creative control. They want to give a platform to artists for the promotion of their work, not restrict them. its early years. The sign was just one part of the renovation projects undertaken to restore the theater’s former aesthetic and upgrade the cinema equipment. The actual renovations started last February after years of the theater remaining unused.
“It still looks like the historic theater and has the same feel,” Film Streams’ Communication Director Patrick Kinney said. “That was the goal.”
One major change that old Dundee Theater fans may notice is the new entrance, which has been moved to the north side of the building. The old entrance was on a narrow sidewalk directly off Dodge street. Kinney said this change was made due to safety concerns and the lack of handicap accessibility.
While changing the entrance, the renovations also enlarged the front lobby space, which is now shared with an in-house restaurant. The larger space has been a key component in al-lowing the organization to host large events.
One such event that was hosted at the Dundee Theater was the premiere of “Downsizing,” a movie directed by Omaha native Alexander Payne. The movie’s plot is about an Omaha man faced with new technology promising him an easier life.
The “Downsizing” premiere hosted Payne, actress Hong Chau, Susie Buffett and Warren Buffett. Payne grew up visiting the Dundee Theater and is currently a board member of Film Streams, making his premiere a particularly unique opportu-n it y.Another substantial change undertaken by the Dundee Theater was the addition of a micro-cinema. An additional theater with 25 seats opened alongside the main theater. This smaller theater is being used for more niche cinematography, such as documentaries and foreign films.
The Dundee Theater’s rich history in Omaha cinema comes with a few odd facts. For a period of over two years during the 60s, the Dundee Theater continuously had showings of “The Sound of Music.” According to Kinney, that held the record at the time for the second longest running release of a new movie in the world.
“People went nuts in Omaha for ‘The Sound of Music,’” Kinney said.
In homage to the past popularity of “The Sound of Music,” the Dundee Theater is currently showing the film again.
Students interested in catching a movie at the Dundee Theater or at the other Film Streams theater downtown can get a free ticket via student night. Student night is the first Monday of each month. Any full-time students are eligible.