Movie-going experiences are abundant at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For generations, students, staff and community members have had the opportunity to enjoy “Big Screen” entertainment. The medium’s landscape has changed, remodeled and adjusted along with the campus and city, and while some venues no longer exist, new ones emerged, creating the film community we see now.
The Marquee Cinema is a 330-seat venue located on the second floor of Union South, which is the most convenient place to see movies on campus. Programmed by the WUD Film committee, the Marquee screens hundreds of films throughout the year for free. This includes blockbusters, independent films and foreign films. WUD Film also hosts various festivals throughout the year at the Marquee. Last year, this included the Directress’ Film Festival, which screened films made by female directors, and the Iranian Film Festival, which screened rare Iranian films difficult to see elsewhere.
Located on the fourth floor of Vilas Communication Hall is the Cinematheque. In addition to being a lecture hall for the Communications Department, the Cinematheque is an active venue that shows archival prints and foreign films that are hard to view anywhere else and, like the Marquee, its screenings are completely free.
Marcus Point Cinema
Located off-campus near West Towne Mall, the Marcus Point Cinema is the closest theater that shows the biggest range of newly-released films across 15 screens—including an Ultrascreen.
Sundance Cinema is a six-screen theater located in Hilldale Mall just outside of campus. It is the closest theater to UW-Madison that shows the most popular newly-released films, making it a good option to stay up-to-date on the latest flicks. Sundance also screens independent, lesser known films for movie-goers looking for entertainment outside the mainstream.
Silver Cinemas, located in the Market Square Shopping Center, shows a variety of films released earlier in the year, ranging from independent and foreign to blockbuster. This is a cheap option ($2.50-$3) to get caught up on films and sample more diverse screenings.
The Orpheum is primarily known as a concert venue, but it was originally built as a movie theater. It was also a prominent venue for independent films. Today, however, the Orpheum still screens a handful of films throughout the year, including its Summer Movie Series—a selection that includes movies like “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “Moana,” “Zootopia” and “The Avengers.”
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art
The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art is home to two venues. The museum’s lecture hall is the main screening area, showcasing the Spotlight Cinema series that features diverse, award-winning films. The second venue is the Sculpture Garden, located on the rooftop of the museum. This venue screens films outdoors in the summer, including avant-garde and experimental films.
Chazen Museum of Art
The Chazen Museum of Art houses a 160-seat auditorium, screening mainstream films and showcasing artists’ films and videos. It also serves as a venue for the Wisconsin Film Festival.
The Overture is home to the Capitol Theater, a venue that opened in 1928. It was originally designed to screen silent films—a tradition that continues today through its silent film series called the Duck Soup Cinema series. Each screening opens with vaudeville-style acts.