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Saukville, WI: Marcus Saukville Cinema Closing September 17, 2023, Some Reasons Explored

Posted on Monday, September 11, 2023 6:43 PM and updated on Monday, September 11, 2023 8:29 PM

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The Marcus Saukville Cinema in Saukville, Wisconsin is closing September 17, 2023.

Located a little more than 20 miles north of downtown Milwaukee, the twelve-screen movie theater is just southwest of the the Highway 33 interchange with I-43. It opened in 2005 by Marcus Theatres Corporation, which mentioned recently that it would be closing this and two other locations in southeastern Wisconsin this month:

In September, Marcus Theatres is closing its Southgate, Showtime, and Saukville cinemas. The last day of business operation for Southgate is Tuesday, September 5. Saukville and Showtime cinemas will cease business operations on Sunday, September 17. We routinely reviewed the amenities at our theatre locations to provide the best moviegoing experience and determined that our customers at these locations are better served by the more expansive amenities at other nearby Marcus Theatres.

That statement also mentions the Marcus Southgate Cinema in Milwaukee, which closed September 5, and the Marcus Showtime Cinema in Franklin, which will close September 17.

The theater's positioning between the Marcus North Shore Cinemas in Mequon ten miles to the south and Marcus Sheboygan Cinema about 28 miles to the north should have created a formula for success, especially since the Mequon location is almost always busy.

However, that success was elusive and the theater did not attract the overflow crowds from its Mequon sibling and reasons are a bit of a mystery. We're just guessing, but we've got some ideas that we would like to share and see if anyone else agrees.

Reason #1: Location and Setting

The theater's general location is a good one. It's ten miles away from the closest multiplex movie theater and thirteen miles away from the closest non-Marcus multiplex competition. It's near a freeway interchange and in an area that has seen residential and commercial growth since its opening in 2005.

However, it's not right on the interchange, and even though the building can be seen from the freeway, thousands of cars every day see only the back of the building, with only a small sign to remind them that a movie theater is there (see photo below). There's no neon marquee and no movie artwork to advertise its presence, so if you don't notice that small sign as you pass by at 70+ mph, you only see a cinder block rectangle that easily could be a warehouse or industrial building. Furthermore, there is no signage along Highway 33 to help customers arrive. If you do know where to turn, the theater is more than half a mile south of the interchange and you are traveling a country road past corn fields before you see the entrance.

Theater photo
The view from I-43 of the Marcus Saukville Cinema. Can you tell this is a movie theater?

Reason #2: Lack of Premium Offerings, Including DreamLounger Seating

To our knowledge, this movie theater never installed Marcus' DreamLounger seating. These powered recliners have proven to be very popular with audiences. Also missing from this location is at least one premium auditorium. Marcus has SuperScreen DLX and UltraScreen DLX auditoriums at other locations, including the aforementioned Marcus North Shore Cinemas, which has an UltraScreen DLX auditorium which features a large screen, Dolby Atmos immersive sound, and heated DreamLounger seats. That location also offers a Take Five Lounge, which serves food and alcoholic beverages in a bar atmosphere, and a Zaffiro's restaurant that offers plenty of food options.

The lack of these amenities made the Saukville location a second-class offering to its better-equipped neighbor. In the past, such a location might have become a second-run movie theater, but such theaters are few and far between. Marcus closed or converted its last Value Cinema location years ago. When a better experience can be found elsewhere, market forces are natural and unforgiving.

Reason #3: A Challenging Market

It's quite possible that a movie theater can survive both of the reasons above, but when you factor the impact of a challenging market for moviegoers, it's an almost impossible hill to climb. Audiences have yet to return to theaters at the same levels as before the COVID pandemic shut down movie theaters around the country. While we are fortunate to not have to worry about being in a crowded movie theater as much as recently as two years ago, moviegoers learned to watch movies at home even more than they were before March 2020. There are more streaming services showing movies than before, and the movies are appearing on them sooner.

To draw audiences, movie theaters must offer more. More amenities. More convenient showtimes. More promotions. They need to meet the streaming services head-on and deliver a better experience bar-none. You can stream a Taylor Swift song anytime on your smartphone, yet people pay hundreds of dollars to see her in concert, and when the Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour event in theaters went on sale, many theaters sold out in minutes. People are willing to go to movie theaters, just like they're willing to attend concerts and eat out in restaurants. The experience is key, and the theaters with the best experience win over those that don't. Especially when a potential audience is smaller than before, the better experience is going to succeed when others fail.

Could It Reopen?

It's possible that this location could reopen in the future. As far as we can find, the property is not for sale. We reached out to Marcus Theatres Corp. for comment, but did not receive a reply before our deadline for this article. It's also possible that another theater operator could reopen this location. Marcus typically owns their properties and often places deed restrictions on competitors reopening them as movie theaters. Tax records indicate that the Saukville location is owned by B and G Realty, LLC., which resides in the same building as the headquarters for Marcus Theatres Corp., so we're not sure how that impacts its possible future as a movie theater at this time.

Showtimes and Tickets

Until it closes, you see what's playing and when, and buy tickets online, please visit the Showtimes page for the Marcus Saukville Cinema.

After September 17, moviegoers in the area will need to visit one of the other nearby theaters, including the Rivoli Theatre in Cedarburg, the Marcus North Shore Cinemas in Mequon, and the West Bend Cinema in West Bend.

View the Photo Gallery

We have 20 photos of the Marcus Saukville Cinema, dating back to its opening in 2005. You can see all the photos in the Photo Gallery for the theater!

Do You Have Memories of the Saukville Movie Theater?

If you have memories of going to the movies at the Marcus Saukville Cinema, please feel free to leave a message on the Reader Comments page for the theater!

Theater photos Copyright SVJ Designs, LLC. All rights reserved.

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