Milwaukee March 20, 2018
There’s No Attraction In The World Like This One In Milwaukee
Milwaukee is full of incredible attractions, but some stand out above the rest. Unbeknownst to most, Milwaukee is home to the only operating movie palace, and it’s absolutely bursting with history! From the incredible decor to artistic independent films, there’s nowhere in the world quite like this theatre in Milwaukee.
Welcome to The Oriental Theatre, Milwaukee's oldest and most unique movie theatre.
Since 1927, this beautiful movie palace has been a unique landmark in the city.
This beautiful theatre has been entertaining us for over 90 years!
With just three screens, you'd think this theatre would feel small, but the art within is larger than life. Before every 7 p.m. weekend show, they still play the old Kimball Theatre Pipe Organ (which is the third largest in the world,) just like the good old days.
You might expect the decor at The Oriental to reflect its name, but this immaculate theatre was designed by Gustave A. Dick and Alex Bauer with no Chinese or Japanese influence in mind.
Rather, the theme was East Indian, and it shows throughout the theatre with sparkling chandeliers, giant Buddha sculptures, and hundreds of elephants. It's said that the theater is the only movie palace to incorporate this kind of decor.
In 1972, the theatre was purchased by what is now Landmark Theatres.
The ownership took a new approach and began featuring live performances.
The theatre venue hosted numerous live concerts, including performances by Iggy Pop, Blondie, and REM.
On one night, The Pretenders didn't have an opening act, so they went out on the streets and found three regular street performers. This was the beginning of the Milwaukee native band, Violent Femmes, who has written many hits honoring The Oriental. Another famous name with ties to the theater is Walter Mirisch, producer of films such as
The Pink Panther. Mirisch worked as an usher here in the 1940s!
This east side spot has grown since the '20s.
In the late '80s, the live performances stopped and the theatre focused solely on films once again. A concession stand with alcoholic beverages was added in 2009, and the classic theater has become a top attraction. This is one of the only movie theatres in the city that shows independent films.
The Oriental holds some impressive records, too!
If it wasn't already cool enough, The Oriental holds a record for current and continuing film engagement.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show has been shown every second Saturday at midnight since January of 1978, and it's still a Milwaukee favorite. The Oriental has won many other awards throughout the years, including Best Movie Theatre and Best Make-Out Spot.
There is simply no place more beautiful than The Oriental Theatre.
Landmark's Oriental Theatre is located at 2230 N. Farwell Ave., Milwaukee.
Have you been to The Oriental? Did you attend shows here when it was still a concert venue? Have you joined in on the quirky fun at a
Rocky Horror Picture Show night? Share your stories with us in the comments below!