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Top 10: Second screen brings more options to Falls Theatre

Falls Theatre owner Michelle Maher said the movie theater's second auditorium offers a more intimate setting. Gretta Stark / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 3
Falls Theatre owner Michelle Maher said the movie theater's second auditorium offers a more intimate setting. Gretta Stark / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 3
The Falls Theatre added a new screen in 2018. Thus far, owner Michelle Maher said all has gone very well with the new screen. Gretta Stark / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 3

Editor's note: This story is part of a series looking back at some of the biggest stories of 2018. Find the rest of the series here: Top Ten 2018.

Since it opened in 1927, The Falls Theatre has been an iconic part of the River Falls Main Street. In February, owner Michelle Maher announced she was adding a second screen to the theater, thanks in par, to a state grant obtained by the city, most of which went to help the theater expand.

Since the second screen opened, Maher said, things have been going very well.

"I think our customers are very happy," she said. "And it is certainly allowing us to bring in more movies and explore some of the new territory of bringing in unique film opportunities."

Maher said the second screen has allowed the theater to have "event shows." She hopes to host a film festival at some point.

The second screen also allows the theater to offer more options.

"Especially when movies don't draw large crowds, but are drawing passionate audiences, that may be smaller in size, and that's important as well."

Maher has gotten great feedback on the new auditorium.

"Frankly, when they watch a movie in that auditorium, they recognize how perfectly designed the space is," Maher said. "It really facilitates an outstanding experience, and one that tends to be a little more intimate, which is a different movie experience."

Maher often sees people conversing before the show, which really shows a sense of community.

"That to me is why movie theaters will always survive," she said, "Because it is a communal experience."

The Falls Theaters showtimes were, in the pas, at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. With the new auditorium, showtimes have often been adjusted and staggered to allow audience members to enter through the theater's single box office.

Maher said people have gotten used to the staggered showtimes.

The Falls Theatre is a family business, first started by Maher's father. Now her son is involved in the business as well. She said his involvement has kept her inspired, motivated and looking to the future. She hinted the vision for the theater's future is just developing.

"We are working really hard to continue its development into a more modern movie experience, while keeping our Main Street and our price point," Maher said. "Those two factors are continually our first and foremost desire."

She and Falls Theatre staff are working to maintain those factors, and also hope to add a third auditorium some day.

Maher said for her, the theater is a labor of love.

"We love it every day."

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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