16-screen “Movie Palace” for Milwaukee?

posted by JimRankin on July 13, 2006 at 4:18 am

MILWAUKEE, WI — Lou Rugani of Kenosha Wis., was kind enough to send me this notice from a local paper. Whether one could call this to-be-built complex of screens wth a raucous lobby of “entertainment” a “Movie Palace” is up to the observer, but I guess it is good for this ritzy suburb of Milwaukee. Double Grande Staircases? Something tells me they won’t be of marble, but at least there is more attention to decor. I wonder if they will have lines of different color LEDs in the carpeting to help one find his screening room among the 16?! All they will be missing is a platoon of ushers to keep the vastness under control. And no mention of digital projection, hmmmmm. Still I give them my Best Wishes, even though they do still own one of the most glorious true movie palaces in the Midwest; the former WARNER, now called the GRAND in downtown Milw., now sitting dark, low these eleven years now with little effort by Marcus to re-program and reopen it. I guess their definition of ‘movie palace’ has changed. Jim Rankin, Milwaukee

Marcus theaters Corp., a division of Milwaukee-based Marcus Corp., is making the dinner-and-a-movie date a one-destination affair. Marcus announced Thursday it will break ground July 12 on The Majestic, a 16-screen movie theater complex in the town of Brookfield that will include an Italian cafe, a coffee and ice cream shop, a lounge and an auditorium for live performances and meetings.

The new Majestic Cinema in Brookfield will be the first of its kind in our circuit and completely unique in the United States, Bruce Olson, president of Marcus Theatres, said in a statement. The Majestic will be more than a movie theater, with an Italian cafe serving freshly made-to-order pizza and sandwiches.

Olson added that the cafes are not just for moviegoers, and that parents would be able to stop in while waiting to pick up their kids without having to buy a ticket for a movie.

Two of the theaters 16 auditoriums will feature 72-foot-wide UltraScreens, typically used to show blockbuster films.
The multi-use auditorium, called the Palladium, will offer a menu, table seating and wait service and will host films, concerts, comedy shows and sporting events, as well as special events and business meetings. Adjacent to the auditorium will be the Palladium Lounge, which will serve alcoholic beverages.

A very small number of theaters include lounges and restaurants, but The Majestic will be the first in the country [i doubt this.—Jim] to combine restaurants, a multi-use venue and large UltraScreens into one elegant entertainment destination, said Olson.

Alcoholic beverages will not be permitted outside of the lounge or Palladium areas, he added.

Canopied entrance
Other amenities at The Majestic will include automated kiosks for tickets and concessions, a concierge service and valet parking. Every auditorium will feature stadium seating with wide, memory-foam cushion seats that with rock or recline, more legroom than any other theater in the area, wall-to-wall curved screens, and digital sound.
Olson painted the picture of the Majestic as an upscale movie palace.

One of the first things our guests will notice will be the striking
porte cochere, a canopied entry and drop-off area that will shelter them from inclement weather, he said. Once inside, guests will enter the grand lobby, with its high, domed ceilings, relaxing music from the baby grand piano and movie previews. Local choral groups and high school jazz ensembles will also perform in the lobby. Two dramatic curving grand staircases will invite people to our UltraScreens and mezzanine area, where function rooms will be available for private events such as birthday parties.

The Majestic will be built adjacent to Sams Club on Springdale Road, north of Blue Mound Road, and is expected to open next spring. It will serve as a replacement for two neighboring Marcus cinemas, Westown in Waukesha which operates one UltraScreen and West Point, which is located just east of Westown on Blue Mound in the town of Brookfield.

Marcus plans to sell the Westown and West Point sites to offset the cost of The Majestic. Gander Mountain Company of St. Paul, Minn., an outdoor lifestyle retailer, has already expressed its interest in the Westown site and is currently seeking approval from the city of Waukesha.

Marcus is the ninth largest theater circuit in the country and currently owns or operates 501 screens at 44 locations in Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and Ohio. Two other Marcus Theatres are currently under construction in Green Bay and Sturtevant.

Comments (9)

Craigadams11 on July 13, 2006 at 4:33 am

Wonder if it will have old fashioned “Crying Rooms” and “Ghost Lights”???

JimRankin on July 13, 2006 at 6:11 am

Pray tell, Graig: What are “Ghost Lights”???

(I’m sure it won’t have Crying Rooms! Yesterday they released architect’s renderings, and as suspected, it will be a “Movie Palace” in name only, with the decor being a glitzy version of so-called High Tech, and no, the staircases will not be marble!)

SpikeSpiegel6262044 on July 13, 2006 at 8:56 am

Ghost lights are lights that theater owners put on the back door, well, it’s above the door in the back. They are used to scare ghosts away from the theater. I think that’s right.

By the way, that place sounds sooooo gooood! A marriage of old and new! Oh that is so sweet!

JimRankin on July 14, 2006 at 4:05 am

Apparently, what “Spike” is referring to are the outdoor Exit flood lights (such as they were) as required by building safety codes in the 1920s. Since such exit doors opened upon usually unlit alleys, there had to be some way for potentially fleeing patrons to see where they were going, and these little hooded, single-light-bulb fixtures were their way of complying with the code. So, these lights above the outside doors were for people, not “ghosts.”

SpikeSpiegel6262044 on July 14, 2006 at 7:26 am

One of my play directors told me that, but thanks Jim for really explaining that.

Broan on July 15, 2006 at 3:20 am

Ghost lights are the term for the practice of always having a light on the stage, even if it’s unoccupied. Old superstition.

vclamp on July 16, 2006 at 7:27 pm

Well I am betting that the “Local choral groups and high school jazz ensembles” won’t last too long. Of course it will be the first theater to include all those amenities; after all, Marcus has the trademark on the name ‘Ultra screen’, and this will be the first time two are in the same place, so… there ya' go! ;) They have spent a year on the two month project of clearing the former wharehouse and clearing the land, but at least now I can see more construction equipment there. :)

About six months ago, they were talking about marble and granite. I do get the impression that since this is their corporate showcase, that it will indeed be top of the line, and probably markedly by far the best multiplex ever built.

I had hoped that one of the two cinemas being closed would have become second run, but I can see that ain’t happening.

Technically, Marcus has another ~20 year lease on the Grand which is owned by someone who wants to keep it as a movie palace. And it is the last thing on that stretch of City Center that needs renovating…Can you tell I’m ancy?

Broan on July 17, 2006 at 3:00 am

I don’t know, it doesn’t sound all that far off from what Muvico builds.

JimRankin on July 17, 2006 at 3:35 am

Ah, vclamp, if you are antsy, I’m almost heartbroken, since I have been in almost adoration of the WARNER’s design since I first saw it in the mid 60s! One of these days I will take the two hours that it takes my dial-up to upload the two vintage 1931 8x10s I have of its auditorium at opening so that people everywhere can savor possibly the finest of Rapp & Rapp’s medium scale designs. Of course that will have to be at Cinema Tour since this CT is not allowing photos now.

Brian: I think you are quite right that Marcus is immitating Muvico. Of course, it could be that the founder, the late Ben Marcus, had his flagship “Palace” in the WARNER, which he promptly renamed The CENTRE after he bought it in 1966 (he renamed it the GRAND in ‘82), so now maybe his 65-year-old son Steve, who is Chairman and CEO, wants to immitate —or trump— his father with his own version of a palace: the MAJESTIC. (Remember the movie of a few years ago by that name? Coincidence? I think not.)

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