Milwaukee Film to begin Oriental Theater upgrades this summer

Bathroom expansions, upgrades to projector systems and concession equipment planned

The Oriental Theatre, located on Milwaukee's east side, opened in 1927. (Photo: Pamela Strohl)

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:11 pm

The Oriental Theatre, located on Milwaukee’s east side, opened in 1927. (Photo: Pamela Strohl)

The Oriental Theatre will close for about three weeks this summer as Milwaukee Film embarks on the first phase of its $10 million plan to revitalize the 91-year-old cinema on Milwaukee’s East Side.

The theater, located at 2230 N. Farwell Ave., will close from July 1 to July 23 to allow for an expansion of its first floor bathrooms, and upgrades to its concessions equipment and projection systems. The theater will reopen for private screenings on July 23, and officially reopen to the public in August.

In June last year, Milwaukee Film, the organizer of the city’s annual film festival, signed a 31-year lease to operate and revitalize the Oriental, currently operated by Los Angeles-based Landmark Theatres. IFM Farwell LLC, the fully-owned subsidiary of Milwaukee Film that will run the theater, will officially assume operations on July 1.

During phase one of the project, a women’s bathroom suite will be added to the first floor to provide more amenities than the single unisex bathroom currently offered on the first floor, said Dave Cowen, director of cinema and technology for Milwaukee Film said. Many women often prefer to use the second floor bathroom, but with the first floor addition, “No one will have to travel upstairs,” he said.

Projection equipment throughout the theater will be replaced so that films in digital form can be shown in all three auditoriums. Movies on film will be shown only in the main auditorium, Cowen said.

Food and beverage upgrades will include new popcorn makers, and Cowen said Milwaukee Film is working with local breweries to eventually serve a selection of craft beer at the theater.

Additional renovations, including a full rehabilitation of the theater’s main auditorium will likely start in 2019, and will be funded by Milwaukee Film’s fundraising efforts and a capital campaign, Cowen said.

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Maredithe has covered retail, restaurants, entertainment and tourism since 2018. Her duties as associate editor include copy editing, page proofing and managing work flow. Meyer earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University and still enjoys attending men’s basketball games to cheer on the Golden Eagles. Also in her free time, Meyer coaches high school field hockey and loves trying out new restaurants in Milwaukee.

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