To paraphrase Tom Waits, so that’s what they’re building in there.
Point Cinemas patrons, especially the early birds who have been chagrinned lately to see the west side theater not open until 3 p.m. during the week, have been wondering what Marcus Theatre has had in mind with its renovations going on over there.
Well, the company officially announced its renovation plans for the theater, and the one not surprisingly getting the most attention is the addition of a full-service bar, the Take Five Lounge, offering beer, wine and cocktails, as well as appetizers and Milwaukee-based Zaffiro’s pizza, from 11 a.m. to midnight daily. According to Wisconsin State Journal reporter Karen Rivedal, who broke the story late Monday, the theater will file an application for a Class B liquor license at Tuesday night’s Madison City Council meeting, from which it will be kicked to the Alcohol License Review Committee.
As I read the press release Marcus sent out late Monday afternoon, the theater is not asking to allow patrons to bring beer or wine outside of the lounge and into theaters, something you can do at Sundance Cinemas. The challenge for the theater will be making sure no overserved customers make a nuisance of themselves during screenings. I’ve never run into that as an issue at Sundance, but part of that may be that Sundance has many patrons for its second-floor bar (and especially the Rooftop Bar in the summertime) who never even go to a movie. Point’s location isn’t as friendly to the after-work-drinks clientele, so I’m guessing the vast majority of folks who drink there also plan on seeing a movie either before or after.
What this means, I think, is that Marcus has been paying attention to the success that theaters around the country have had in integrating alcohol and food sales into the moviegoing series, to get folks to arrive early to eat and stay later for a post-show chat over drinks. The challenge, I think, is making that work in a space as isolated as a suburban multiplex — most of the ones I’ve seen work in other cities tend to be in urban areas, or within walkable shopping areas or other mixed-use developments where it’s a little more natural for people to kind of move in and out.
Among the other renovaitons, Point will now have a giant tower marquee sign, similar to the one at Brookfield’s Majestic Cinema that you can see off Interstate 94 when you head into Milwaukee. Point was in dire need of a facelift, and losing the ’90s Santa Fe shopping mall exterior for something more classic (and classy) will be a welcome change. The Brookfield Majestic sounds like it will be a blueprint for the interior renovations that Marcus has in mind for Point, including an expanded lobby, recliming seats in the auditorums (except for the Ultrascreen) and a bigger box office.
Marcus plans to have all these renovations in place by May, just in time for the summer blockbuster season to kick off with “Iron Man 3” on May 4.