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Back to the movies

After several weeks of closure due to Gov. Tim Walz’ orders because of escalating COVID-19 cases in late November, the Madelia theater reopens this weekend at 25% capacity due to COVID restrictions. The theater opens with “Wonder Woman 1984,” a 2020 American superhero film based on the DC comics character Wonder Woman. Showtimes are 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15, 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16, and 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 17.

The remodeled Madelia theater includes 294 seats and a luxurious Blue Room available for rent to up to four people age 18 or older.

The 80-year-old theater at the west end of downtown Madelia was extensively remodeled while it was closed due to COVID restrictions last spring and summer.

“We were shut down like everybody else last March (due to initial COVID restrictions), so I went to my dad (the late Everett Christensen) and said this would be the time to make some changes,” said Brent Christensen, vice president and chief operating officer of Christensen Communications Company.

“We tried to keep the theater history alive, give it an appropriate theme, but keep it modern,” Brent said. “We found original (movie projector) reels. We expanded the (concession) counter and made it more functional.”

New wall covering was added to the theater. A wooden sign for the movie “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” released in 1942, was cleaned up. Everything in the theater was repainted. New theater aisle lighting was added, exits were redone and a new screen was added.

“There was a lot of people involved to make this (theater opening) happen,” Brent said. “Almost everyone was local.”

The Madelia theater reopened in 1991 when the late Everett Christensen bought it and brought it back to live. The first movie shown at the theater was “City Slickers” starring Billy Crystal.

A poster for the movie “City Slickers” starring Billy Crystal, that was shown when the theater reopened in 1991, was framed.

A movie poster for “The Wizard of Oz”, which opened in 1939, is in the theater lobby.

The theater opened in 1939. It was updated in the 1970s and was closed in 1986. Everett Christensen bought the theater and reopened it in 1991.

Brent’s brother Glen is the theater director of operations.

“My dad got into the theater business not knowing anything about it,” said Glen. “We’ll continue to stay in it, not knowing anything about it. But we’re learning. It was never about making a huge profit. We’ve added a new projection system and 7.1 surround sound, (an eight-channel surround audio system).”

Glen said before his father bought the theater, there was talk about turning the theater into a library or apartments.

“My dad said ‘no,’ the marquee is important to Main Street. Let’s keep it a theater,” Glen said.

“I’ve been with the theater for 25 years and seen a lot of changes. You really don’t make money operating a theater,” said Brent. “We’re hoping to make money to put back into the theater. Everything we make on it will go back into it.”

The theater includes Blue Room rental with four luxurious seats in a private setting for $30 including the room and four tickets. Reservations must be made and viewers must be 18 years old or older.

Tickets are $5. Popcorn is $2, $3, or $4. Soft drinks are $2 and $3. All candy is $2.

Glen and Brent Christensen stand at the newly remodeled candy counter.

Visit the theater’s Facebook site.

The theater opens with “Wonder Woman 1984,” a 2020 American superhero film based on the DC comics character Wonder Woman. Showtimes are 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15, 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16, and 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 17.

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