Dark Knight premiers one dark night in Spring Grove

Joe Pellowski, Peter Johnson and Michael Johnson eagerly wait outside the Spring Grove Cinema for the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises.
~ Clay Schuldt/The Caledonia Argus

By Clay Schuldt
Special to the Caledonia Argus

Despite the national atrocity that will forever be associated with the premier of The Dark Knight Rises, locally the event was both a unique and safe experience.

The Spring Grove Cinema (SGC) premiered the latest installment in the Batman film franchise at the stroke of midnight on Friday, July 20.

The Dark Knight Rises is the third and last Batman movie to be written and directed by Christopher Nolan. Eight years after the event of the previous film a new villain comes to Gotham with a plan to break Batman in both body and spirit.

Typically the Spring Grove Cinema does not premier new films, usually acquiring films three weeks after the initial premier. The downside to obtaining a new release such as The Dark Knight Rises is that the cinema is required to run the movie for at least two weeks rather than one.

Since the theater only has one screen, it is a financial risk to show a single movie for two weeks. However, since the previous Dark Knight film is one of the highest grossing movies of all time, there is a good chance the new film will be profitable for the small town cinema.

This is not the first time the SGC has opened its door for a midnight showing. The first time SGC premiered a movie at midnight was a year and half ago when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part One hit the big screen. Even though it was mid-November, dozens of people were willing to wait outside to secure a seat.

After the success of this first midnight showing, SGC premiered several other high profile films, including the final Harry Potter film to similar success.

Among those waiting in line for the film were brothers Peter and Michael Johnson and friend Joe Pellowski. The friends are no strangers to midnight premiers. As they waited the three reminisced about past movie openings.

Peter Johnson also attended a midnight showing of The Avengers two months ago in Winona. Johnson was surprised to learn that Spring Grove also premiered The Avengers at the same time.

Pellowski also saw The Avengers outside of Spring Grove and recalled seeing attendees dressed as their favorite Marvel Comic characters with one notable exception. “There was a guy dressed up as Batman,” said Pellowski. “I told him he was wearing the wrong outfit, but he didn’t get it.”

The Avengers is based on a Marvel Comic Series, while Batman is owned by DC Comics. Dressing up as a DC character at a Marvel Comics event is a major fashion faux pas, which fortunately did occur in Spring Grove.

All Spring Grove fans dressing up for The Dark Knight Rises were wearing the proper DC Comics attire. One diehard Dark Knight fan, Eli Gleason, came to view the movie in a Batman mask.

SGC ticket taker Kim Kallis wore her finest Batman clothing underneath her uniform. Kallis commented that it was difficult to find Batman clothing. The Valley View Mall in Onalaska had sold out of Batman merchandise before Kallis could make her much needed purchases.

Coincidentally, The Dark Knight Rises was not the only premier to occur in Spring Grove on Thursday night. The Dark Knight Rises opened a few hours after the premier of The Ye Olde Opera House’s production of the musical comedy Urinetown.

Despite the late hour and further performances all weekend, several members of the cast managed to attend the film. In fact, SGC Manager Sarah Holland also served as the stage manager for Urinetown.

For many local residents it is comforting to know that even in a small community, fans of both film theater and stage theatre can indulge in their love of the performing arts.

The Dark Knight Rises will be showing at SGC from July 20 through Aug. 1.


An editor’s note: A few hours after this movie premiered in Spring Grove tragedy unfolded in Aurora, Colo. An audience attending a similar midnight screening of this film was fired upon by a gunman, who was later apprehended. Twelve individuals lost their lives in the shooting and dozens were wounded.