The Montello cinema is about to reopen for the first time since the start of the pandemic | Movie theater

MONTELLO (WKOW) — The doors to the Montello Theater have been closed since March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began. But now new owners are bringing movies back to the big screen.

Kerry and Jen Mann say they love acting since moving to town with their four daughters seven years ago.

“There were so many movies I saw here with my girls that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise,” Kerry said. “We fell in love with the theatre. It’s like there’s something about this theatre. It’s like a magical place.”

Part of what makes the theater so special is its longevity. The building opened as an opera house in the late 1800s.

“People gathered here for banquets, there were wrestling matches here, a former Wisconsin governor spoke here, roller skating, all kinds of plays,” Kerry said. “Thousands of stories were told in this building before a single movie was played.”

From plays to silent films to color films, with each evolution of cinema, the theater has adapted.

“All forms of entertainment took place in this building,” Kerry said.

However, when the COVID-19 pandemic started and the state imposed capacity restrictions, the owners of the theater for 20 years closed the doors, and that’s how things remained until August 2022. .

Now the Manns own the building, and they’re working to bring the movies back to Montello.

Although they’re personally excited because of their love of movies, Jen said they’re not alone.

“I think the community loves it too, because they haven’t been able to watch movies for a few years,” she said. “A lot of people have already come up to us and said ‘thank you, thank you, thank you for opening this save.'”

During the month they owned the building, the Manns worked to uncover more details about the building’s history.

Along with several newspaper articles, they also found an old carbon arc projector and 1930s speakers that still work.

“The whole evolution of cinema has happened in this building,” Kerry said. “We want to preserve this history and share it with others.”

The Manns organize a small museum on the history of the theater in the basement of the building.

They also put all the information in a book, which they sell. Kerry said proceeds from this book will be used to maintain the building and keep ticket prices at $5.

The Montello Cinema will reopen on Friday with a sold-out 7 p.m. screening of “Back to the Future.”

“Because of the time travel and all the history here, it feels pretty fitting,” Kerry said. “If we could travel back in time, it would be amazing to go back to 1878 and see Frank Dodge and the opera here.”

After two and a half years without movies, the Manns said they believe the first comeback show will be a blockbuster.

“I’m not really an emotional person, but I think it might hit me a little hard to see people coming back,” Jen said.

Kerry added, “I’m really excited. It’s going to be surreal, but I can’t wait to see the reaction of people coming back to the movies they really love.”

The reopening weekend will continue with a screening of “Back to the Future II” on Saturday evening and “Back to the Future III” on Sunday.

The Manns said they will show a movie at 7 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday year-round, and they plan to increase that to a movie every day during the summer.

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