Movies at West Theater

I wanted to see the new Spider-Man movie, and five dollar night at the Marcus downtown is always tempting … but wait. The West Theater is showing Spider-Man?

I want the classic movie theater experience. I am uncomfortable at the new Norshor. I find that it’s been designed for Someone Other Than Me. All of the events are priced like it’s worth twenty percent of the ticket just to be in the building, and I’m sorry, I loved the theater without the renovation, when there were movies in the mezzanine. (I was living in St. Paul in these years and would visit as a vacationer.) Even though the Norshor does classic movie nights, generally, it’s watching black-and-white movies for too-many dollars. Those should be free, on UHF, on Sunday afternoon.

I’m so old. But not so old that I miss Casablanca on the big screen.

But on Central, across from the coolest coffee shop in town, next to the second-coolest game shop in town, and next to the only restaurant in town that serves Stappj Gassosa, is a classic movie experience. The tickets are still sold at the window (something I think is likely to be temporary — in winter, it will be both labor-inefficient and heat-inefficient — so experience this classic movie theater vibe while the days are warm). Then, you enter and feel the warmth of the classic carpet, the lighting that says “this movie is an event, why didn’t we dress up just a bit more?”

The concessions are still being constructed, but golly, the classic vibe is there, and there are all the things we’ve come to expect in today’s theater.


The auditorium is spacious, and the last several rows have wide, reclining seats.

And here is the coolest thing. While I love the Marcus and will likely always choose the Marcus on discount nights, 3-D movies, and their special (opera, Doctor Who) Fathom events … at the West, I was seven feet from the spot where I parked my car and the ticket booth. There was no more than 75 feet from my seat in the movie theater to my car. Honestly, this is both convenient for me and, if I am seeing a movie with someone with mobility challenges, the West will be my number-one choice.

The movie, by the way, is AWESOME. It is dripping with sentiment, with young love, with techie nerd rage and jealousy, with action — I’ll be honest, super-hero movies I know are always a kind of exaggerated emotional experience, but wow, they no longer just thrill me. They tug at my heart.

And for what it’s worth, the theater’s proprietor came out to say hi. That was an extra plus. Maybe you can come say hi to the West, too.


[email protected]

about 5 years ago

Okay, as someone who frequents the Norshor and is originally from the Twin Cities where I consistently attended shows at the Guthrie, Orpheum, State and History Theaters I have to vehemently disagree with your analysis of other local theaters, the Norshor in particular. In terms of the live theater you pay VERY cheap prices for high quality theater, which, believe me you will NOT pay in the Cities. As for the Classic movies at the Norshor, you do understand that LEGALLY, you can't just do a showing, right? You have to pay for the rights to show those movies, so I think $12 dollars is a small price to pay to enjoy classic American films. You being disingenuous about a Duluth icon simply because you want to seem "intelligent and "artistic" is at best shallow and moronic.

David Beard

about 5 years ago


I will respectfully disagree.

First, to compare the Guthrie, Orpheum, and State Theaters to the Norshor is unfair.  The Orpheum and State host traveling shows analogous to those at the DECC.   The Guthrie shows regionally- to nationally-respected performances with a professional staff, on stage and backstage.  We have nothing like that in Duluth, nor should we.  I don't mean to disrespect what we do have;  I don't think my colleagues would disagree that the Guthrie operates at a different level.

Despite those differences, tickets to the Guthrie and to the Norshor start at the same price point, about forty dollars.  Even if their quality were identical, there is a median income difference of thirty thousand dollars a year between Duluth and Minneapolis, but the Norshor and Guthrie start at the same price point.  


As to whether or not classic movies should be free;  I don't remember claiming that, at the Norshor, they should be free.  I said instead that they should be free on my TV at home.  

But as to whether they _could_ be free at the Norshor:  theaters make money two ways:  through ticket sales or through concession sales.  It's a choice to decide to meet the licensing fee by tickets or by concessions.  It is at least conceivable that at six dollars, with more people coming and with stronger concession sales, the Norshor might reach that license fee.  

When the Zinema would cancel its Sunday movies and replace them with free showings of The Walking Dead or Doctor Who, they were gambling that they would make more money on concessions from a packed house from a free show than they would from six people seeing "Weird Movie of the Week" for ten dollars.  The principle here is not identical, but it is similar.


I've not been "disingenuous";  I just didn't spell out the math.  I am "intelligent and artistic," with no desire to prove that in my original post [which was about seeing a Spider-man movie] or here.  

I was arguing that a classic theater experience should be available to people with twenty bucks in their pocket.  
--Twenty bucks will get me a rush ticket at the Guthrie.  
--If I don't see a show, twenty bucks will get me an app and two pops at the Guthrie restaurant.
--Twenty bucks will get me two cocktails to drink on the balcony overlooking the river at the Guthrie.
--Twenty bucks gets two people into the West, or one person, a beer and a popcorn.  EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR. 

What does twenty bucks get you at the Norshor?  Twenty dollars doesn't even let me into the lobby most nights.  My Duluth icon is inaccessible to me and many other Duluthians.  That is "shallow and moronic."

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