Jeramey Jannene

Oriental Theatre Hosting World Premiere Friday Night

Small Town Wisconsin makes its big-screen debut in Milwaukee before going nationwide.

By - Jun 2nd, 2022 07:39 pm
Small Town Wisconsin. Image provided.

Small Town Wisconsin. Image provided.

Milwaukee Film is hosting quite the red carpet event Friday evening.

“Small Town Wisconsin,” a feature film that has earned more than 40 festival awards, will make its world debut at the Oriental Theatre before getting nationwide distribution and a wider theatrical release.

“This is a film that should be playing in every cinema in the country based on its amazing film festival track record and audiences’ adoration of it, but because of changes and disruption happening right now in the film industry it is rolling out initially only at the Oriental Theatre,” said Milwaukee Film CEO Jonathan Jackson.

Shot in Wisconsin four years ago, the film stars David Sullivan (“Primer,” “Sharp Objects”) as a frequently-drunk father that is fighting to keep partial custody of his son.

“Everything good comes from Milwaukee,” says Sullivan’s Wayne to his son as he ticks off a list that includes the Milwaukee Bucks, Usinger’s sausage and beer (but Wayne’s beer of choice throughout the movie is Point Special).

Milwaukee native Niels Mueller directed the film, with Wauwatosa native Jason Naczek authoring the script. More than 20 UW-Milwaukee film students or alumni were involved in the film’s production.

“It is vital that we celebrate and support as a community great Wisconsin made art by Wisconsin talent. In the case of the movie Small Town Wisconsin that is really easy to do because it is such a smart, funny, and well acted and directed film,” said Jackson.

Kristen Johnston, recognizable for her roles in “Third Rock From The Sun” and “Mom,” is featured as Wayne’s sister. Bill Heck (“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”) plays Wayne’s friend.

Academy Award-winner Alexander Payne (“Nebraska,” “Sideways”) serves as an executive producer on the film and will attend the premiere alongside most of the actors and crew.

Much of the second half of the film takes place in Milwaukee on a “camping” trip, with a number of easily identifiable locations featured including the Pfister Hotel, Wisconsin State Fair and American Family Field.

Milwaukee Filmmaker and man-about-town Mark Borchardt appears in a cameo (in a Milwaukee Home t-shirt).

At the time of publication, limited tickets were still available. Tickets are $15, with the showing beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Can’t make it Friday? The movie will play at the Oriental for a least a week after the premiere.

Starting June 10, the film will be available at Marcus Theatres across Wisconsin. It will also be available nationwide through on-demand services.

Quiver Distribution is distributing the movie. It was first shown virtually at film festivals in 2020.


If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits.

3 thoughts on “Oriental Theatre Hosting World Premiere Friday Night”

  1. Polaris says:

    Ah, I didn’t know that it was only shown virtually last year. I really liked it!

  2. NieWiederKrieg says:

    Used to go for a dinner and a movie nearly every weekend back in the 1970’s. Watching a movie at the drive-in theater was twice as much fun.

    The movies coming out of Hollywood over the past few decades have really been stinkers. But I will definitely buy a “Small Town Wisconsin” DVD when it becomes available… and I’ll probably watch it at least a dozen times.

    Thanks for the ‘heads up’, Urban Milwaukee.

  3. dmkrueger2 says:


Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us