Milwaukee Film to take over the Oriental Theatre in 2018

Milwaukee Film to take over the Oriental Theatre in 2018

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88Nine Radio Milwaukee

The folks behind the amazing Milwaukee Film Festival will be taking over the iconic Oriental Theatre beginning on July 1, 2018.  Milwaukee Film signed a 31-year lease to operate the Oriental Theatre and will run the theatre 365 days a year.

The organization will handle everything from programming, to concessions, to maintenance, according to Milwaukee Film’s Executive Director Jonathan Jackson in an interview 88Nine’s Nate Imig.

Listen to the interview below.


There's no other cinema in the world that rivals the Oriental Theatre

The takeover of the Oriental Theatre will allow Milwaukee Film to program the best of international and American independent fiction and documentary films throughout the year, Jackson says. The expansion will also allow it to screen films that would normally skip over the Milwaukee market.

Currently, the organization has raised $3 million of the $10 million goal. This will make it possible for Milwaukee Film to invest in the infrastructure of the Oriental Theatre, create a cash reserve for Milwaukee Film, and hire the necessary staff to run the new business line.  Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele made a major contribution of $2 million to support this initiative.  Milwaukee Film Co-Founders, the Herzfeld Foundation, led by Bill and Carmen Haberman contributed an additional $1 million.

As for the theatre’s architectural quirks — the Buddhas, peacocks and lions — they’ll stay, says Jackson.  The popcorn toppings likely won’t change either, he adds, with a laugh.

You can learn more about Milwaukee Film’s takeover of the Oriental Theatre on MKE Film’s website, along with information about this year’s film fest.