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101 Things To Do: The Falls Theatre in River Falls

The Falls Theatre has been providing River Falls residents with storytelling entertainment for decades. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 4
Michelle Maher, whose family has owned the Falls Theatre for three generations, says their popcorn is the best. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 4
Michelle Maher enjoys a peaceful moment after the crowds have filed inside for the Sunday matinee on Dec. 23, 2018. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 4
Michelle Maher enjoys a peaceful moment after the crowds have filed inside for the Sunday matinee on Dec. 23, 2018. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia4 / 4

Editor's note: This is the latest stop in our new series, 101 Things To Do. Each week through December 2020, we will select one place or activity around the region to highlight. The stories are compiled at www.rivertown101.com.

With over 70 percent of all movie screens in the United States owned by five corporations, small, independent movie theaters have to find a way to give their customers a unique experience.

That is the challenge for Michelle Maher at The Falls Theatre, which her family has owned and operated for three generations.

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"The small independents have to really invoke a ton of passion to sustain this business model," Maher said, "because it is definitely not set up for small independents. We are fighting for films. We are fighting for terms. We are fighting for percentages."

She said the nature of River Falls makes it possible for her to succeed. "Our community is small, but we have an intellectual community and there is a hunger for culture and content, so we are sitting well," she said. "In the population that we live in, even though it is not a metro area, it is nice to have these unique offerings."

Maher said the ticket prices are low. Families appreciate that, because they can bring several kids and afford it. She also sells Spotted Cow on tap, and some people enjoy that.

"We have great popcorn,"she added. "We pop it in coconut oil and put real butter on it. People like the elevated quality of the popcorn."

The Falls Theatre has two screens, but Maher hopes to add a third in the near future. That would make it possible to show more movies.

"It allows for the development of things like a midweek miniseries that is based on a theme," she said. "I think we have a community that would really embrace that, whether it is retro films or little-known documentaries or even just bringing back our favorite musicals."

Maher has four children and she said her second son has shown a lot of interest in the business and has helped her run the theater. That makes her more excited to invest in the business.

"I have raised my kids in this theater," she said. "They have always felt more a part of it. It has been our theater, so it is exciting for the business."

If you go...

What: The Falls Theatre

Where: 105 S. Main St., River Falls, WI 54022

Phone: 715-425-2811

Website: https://www.fallstheatre.com/

Email: Use the form on the website

When: Two screens daily 6:45 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Friday-Sunday matinee 4:30 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday matinees 1:45 o,n, and 2 p.m.

How much: Adults $5; children $3; seniors $3

Steve Gardiner

Steve Gardiner taught high school English and journalism for 38 years in Montana and Wyoming.  He started working at the Republican Eagle in May 2018.  He focuses on features and outdoor stories.  

(651) 301-7872