"The Buck" – Roseville 4 Theatre

For one summer during college, I lived in an apartment with a friend that just happened to be directly across the street from one of the most famous destinations for area college students: The Buck. “The Buck” was actually called the Roseville 4 Theatre and it was a four screen 2nd run movie house that was located in the west end of a Rainbow Foods grocery store off Larpenteur and Fernwood in Roseville. The theatre was know for $1 Tuesday tickets, $2 tickets the rest of the week and cheap popcorn with free refills on the large bucket. It was also known for being pretty rundown. The floors of the four theaters featured countless layers of sticky, buttery residue. About 40% of the theater seats were broken in some way, so it was always a challenge to find two or more good seats next to each other. The staff, however, was always friendly and you just couldn’t beat the prices.

Notice how the marquee just lists  “CMP”, “Dresses” and “Treasure”.

One of the first movies I ever saw there was Memento, which I saw freshman year by myself because no one I knew was interested in the indie conceptual film by a no-name director (Christopher Nolan). I saw a few more movies there over the next 4+ years, but the summer I lived next door to the theater made going to the movies way easier than it should have been.

That summer, my room mate and I hatched a devious, college-kid plan to go see Old School and to sneak in our own special beverages. It made the movie that much more fun and we decided that the perfect final touch to our rebellion would be to leave the bottles behind in the theater for the staff to find. We were so bad!

I also vividly remember that one night that summer there was a fairly violet thunderstorm that came through the area. The wind was so strong that it whipped the letter off the marquee at the theater and flung them across the street into our parking lot. I found the letter “O” under my car the next day and returned it to the theater staff.

Later that summer, word spread that the theater would be replacing their broken seats with new ones! One day, we noticed that a few rows of broken or damaged seats ended up in the dumpster behind the theater. We hotly debated whether we should grab a row of seats for our apartment and ended up missing our chance when the dumpster was emptied. Regrets. This was similar to another instance from that summer when the Falcon Bowl up the road went out of business and I saw sections of bowling lane laying out with the trash. I briefly entertained thoughts of grabbing a couple sections to make into unique tables. But opportunity was again missed and I later heard that those sections were re-used by another bowling alley.

The rise of the suburban mega-plex eventually killed The Buck. In fact, all Roseville theaters were required to bow before the specter of the new AMC Roseville 14 theater that went up in 2006 as a relocation for the Har-Mar theater just south of there. It immediately killed the UA Pavilion just across the street. Both of those theaters were also regrettable losses. The UA was in a somewhat dead alterna-mall across from Rosedale. It was downstairs, but you had to go down more stairs to get to the box office. My main memory of this theater was seeing Punch Drunk Love on an early date with my now wife. Not a good date movie, FYI. The abandoned Har-Mar theater site was very retro in decor and actually had two box offices for two different areas. The big movies were at the main one and the rest were down the hall and to the right in the smaller screen annex. I saw quite a few movies there, but the only one I really remember was Wedding Crashers on my 24th birthday.

The Buck soldiered on for a few more years after Roseville 14 opened before finally succumbing to the pressures in 2008. It was truly a sad affair and hundreds of customers tried their hardest to stave off the inevitable. The Rainbow Foods store that actually owned the building laid out plans to demolish and rebuild without the theater. The theater owners looked for new locations for awhile, but decided not to pursue the business any further.

And the dream is over.

Now all we have are fond memories of a rundown, dirty theater and the fantastic times with friends that were had there. Anyone else have cool stories of The Buck?

Side Note: 

Did you know that Roseville had a drive-in theater for 30 years? From 1948 – 1979, the Rose Drive-In Theatre operated on the northeast corner of Snelling and Country Road C where The Olive Garden is now located! It even had an awesome neon rose on the back of the screen! So cool!

Beautiful art-deco design.

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3 thoughts on “"The Buck" – Roseville 4 Theatre

  1. Great post, Peter. It's too bad “the Buck” is no more. Good memories of movies and then heading to the Source comics and games (which I don't think is around anymore) and heading to Snuffy's Malt Shop for some grilled cheese and a banana malt. Sooooo good.

  2. Oh, I miss the Buck. I went on a semi-blind date with random other people to see Shrek the day the face books came out freshman year & snuck other food in when seeing The Royal Tenenbaums instead of cleaning for final inspection! I also remember seeing Fast & Furious with a bunch of random people…perks of being the only one in the hall who had a car as a freshman!

  3. Pingback: 300 Posts in 13 Years | Stargazing in Winter

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