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Downer Theatre closes abruptly in social post (update)

Update (1:57 p.m.): If you've followed this story, you probably noticed Milwaukee Film mentioned in the coverage (including ours, albeit subtly). In response to speculation the organization might get involved with the Downer's future, it released a statement Wednesday afternoon that included this from CEO Jonathan Jackson:

“We are honored to be a part of this active conversation and excited about this possibility. We will always champion fostering cinematic spaces and artistic voices and experiences in our community to bring people together any way we can.”

For what it's worth, the release from Milwaukee Film was titled "As One Chapter for the Landmark Downer Theatre Closes, Another May Soon Begin for Milwaukee's Oldest-Running Cinema." So ... more to come perhaps.

The Milwaukee area is down another movie theater after the Downer announced late Tuesday night that it would immediately close its doors to the filmgoing public.

The Downer Theatre first opened in December 1915, making it Milwaukee’s oldest movie house currently hosting regular seasons — or at least that was the case prior to the social post that went up at 9:15 p.m. Tuesday.

The theater changed hands a couple times over the past few decades, first being acquired in 1989 by Landmark Theatres, which launched a renovation that added a second screen to the location and restored its historic feel. Landmark, in turn, was acquired by Cohen Media Group in 2018.

More recent years, however, have seen the Downer deteriorate and scale back its screenings before eliminating them entirely Tuesday. The move follows Marcus Theatres’ closing several of its locations just a few weeks ago, including Southgate, Saukville and Showtime cinemas.

There are rumblings that Downer Theatre’s shuttering may be temporary, but for now loyal patrons have another moviegoing option less than a mile down the road in the Oriental Theatre, which Milwaukee Film has operated since July 2018. And of course you can always get your movie fix on our Cinebuds podcast, featuring Milwaukee Film’s Kristopher Pollard.