The Marquee

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photo by Allison Brown

by Lydia Statz

Though we all hate to admit it, every once in a while even the most dedicated of UW partiers needs a break.  Maybe you’re looking for a way to wind down after an exam-packed week, perhaps Mom and Dad are coming into town bright and early tomorrow, or maybe you’re just not that into the party scene anyway. Whatever the reason, The Marquee at the new Union South is the perfect antidote to the usual pong-and-bong weekend.

Billing itself as the new “home for film on campus,” the cinema has already proved to be one of the most popular attractions of Union South, and it’s easy to see why. The 350 Badger Red seats are comfortable and the combination of rich wood paneling and soft lighting is inviting. The screen stretched across the front wall would give any modern multiplex a run for its money, and you certainly can’t beat the price. All movies shown in The Marquee are free.

Okay, so you might have to shell out a bit of cash if you want some Marquee Munchies from the downstairs Badger Market, but

photo by Allison Brown

at $6.50 for a large popcorn, candy and a soda, it sure beats AMC prices. And just because you’re there to escape the excessively alcoholic atmosphere elsewhere doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a drink. Movie goers are free to bring in beverages purchased from the Sett or Prairie Fire wine bar.

Cailly Morris, a junior at UW, said this aspect of the new cinema has captured her attention. “The Marquee is my favorite addition to Union South,” she said. “Not only can you sit back and enjoy a glass of wine or a pitcher of beer, but you can do it while watching a movie for free.”

Programming in The Marquee is run by the Wisconsin Union Directorate Film committee, which previously used the Frederick March Play Circle Theater in Memorial Union. WUD Film President Kyle Van Vonderen said the new venue is vastly superior to the old in many ways.

“We have a better sound system, a Dolby 7.1 surround sound which is about as good as you can get right now, HD capabilities, double the capacity of the Play Circle, comfy seats and a bigger screen,” he said.

Van Vonderen also emphasized the committee’s wide range of programming, ensuring that everyone will find something they like on the schedule. Coming up is a showing of Troll 2, which has been dubbed the “worst film of all time,” and the Mini_Indie film festival, which features 14 independent and foreign films in five days. For those not into the indie scene, the committee usually features blockbuster films during the weekend, including midnight showings on Friday and Saturday nights.

For the venue’s debut, WUD Film hosted a second-chance Oscar weekend, showing movies such as Black Swan, The Fighter, 127 Hours and Toy Story 3. Four of the seven showings that weekend were completely filled, though Van Vonderen estimates every movie filled at least 200 seats. “For Black Swan we had to stop people from getting in line an hour before the film started,” he said. “There were just so many people.”

If you think seeing Natalie Portman on the big screen for free, stuffing yourself with affordable popcorn and washing it down with a pitcher from the Sett sounds too good to be true, well, there is one catch: everyone else thinks so too, so be prepared to battle the crowds for their most popular screenings. Van Vonderen says you should make sure to arrive at least an hour ahead of time for the big budget films.

photo by Allison Brown