The UWM Union Theatre is one of those hidden-but-not-really-hidden gems that makes Milwaukee (and Milwaukee’s East Side, in particular) such a wonderful place to live. Since 1972, the unassuming movie theater located in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Student Union has been providing the school and surrounding city with top-notch cinematic programming, including new releases, independent films, Hollywood blockbusters, and fests like the Milwaukee LGBT Film/Video Festival. And hey, most of the screenings are free, making the theatre a can’t-miss destination for film fans and cheapskates alike.

Well, scratch that last bit. Today, the UWM Union Theatre announced not only a name change—it will now be known as the UWM Union Cinema, in order to “spotlight its role as a film venue”—but new admission policies as well. Beginning in the Fall 2015 semester, non-student patrons will be charged $5 for any new releases, classics, or documentaries. Certain festivals, including the Festival of Films in French, Latin American Film Series, Italian Film Festival, African American Film Series, Experimental Tuesdays, and select others will remain free to the public. All films will remain free for UWM students.

For hardcore non-student patrons, a new membership program has also been announced. For $50 a year, members can enjoy free admission to all films, two free passes for guests, and a free small popcorn on Wednesday nights. UWM faculty and staff/alumni and senior citizens can become members for $40 a year. Any way you slice it, that’s dirt cheap, and worth the weird looks you inevitably get from 18-year-olds skulking around the Union at night.

Check out the entire press release below:

MILWAUKEE, WI (July 13, 2015) As the 2015-16 school year approaches, the UWM Union Theatre announces some changes. To spotlight its role as a film venue, it will now be named the UWM Union Cinema.

The Union Cinema also announces a new membership program and changes to its admission policies. In order to sustain itself as a campus and community resource, the Union Cinema will begin to charge admission to some films.

  • All films will be free for UWM students, whose fees support the programs in the UWM Student Union. This includes free admission to the Milwaukee LGBT Film/Video Festival – new this year!
  • Certain festivals and series will continue to be free for all patrons – the Festival of Films in French, Latin American Film Series, Italian Film Festival, African American Film Series, Experimental Tuesdays, and select others.
  • For the rest of the films – including American and foreign new releases, cinema classics, and documentaries – non-student patrons will be asked to pay a small fee of $5 a film.

For frequent patrons of the Union Cinema, a membership program is announced. Membership fees are $50/year, $40/year for UWM faculty and staff/alumni/senior citizens. Benefits of membership include:

  • Free admission to all* 180+ films during the year (the one exception is the Milwaukee LGBT Film/Video Festival, for which Union Cinema members can purchase the Festival’s discount ticket)
  • Two free passes to bring a guest to film screenings
  • Free small popcorn on Wednesday nights

Individuals interested in Union Cinema membership can email cinema@uwm.edu for more information.

In addition to the bigger changes above, we are also implementing several other changes to further our growth:

  • We are proud to announce that the Union Cinema is an official Sundance Institute. This will afford us new opportunities and betters way to connect with our other Cinema Facilities from around the country.
  • In partnership with the UWM Campus Activates Board, the Union Cinema will also be holding monthly events for students, ranging from red carpet screenings at the Cinema, to group trips to see opening night premieres of the latest movies.
  • The UWM Union Cinema will be undergoing minor renovations and cosmetic updates.
  • Finally, as part of our reform, the UWM Union Cinema will be receiving a new website with an updated format that will allow for easier access to our schedule and latest film details. This will include easier access to press information, links to our partners and sponsors, as well as regular updates with any new information the Union Cinema may have.

Since 1972, the Union Cinema has been providing UWM and the local community with a diverse, entertaining and intellectually-engaging film and video program. The Cinema has the unique capability to screen 16mm, 35mm and digital films. The film program includes frequent guest speakers, filmmakers and experts to discuss the films. The Union Cinema strives to help develop a broader understanding for and appreciation of the universal language of film.