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Launched in 2014 by journalist Sean Baker, Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.

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Independent movie theater to open in Rochester's Design District

Independent movie theater to open in Rochester's Design District

When Gray Duck Theater opens this fall, its founder Andy Smith hopes to change Rochester locals’ perspective of film altogether.

“Nowadays, people have roughly two options if they want to see a great movie," said Smith. "They can go see it in a big theater, which is a little impersonal or they have to wait for it to come out on DVD to watch it at home where they may not have an excellent sound system. Gray Duck Theater will offer a third movie-viewing option.”

That third option which Gray Duck Theater offers is LA-inspired with a Midwestern twist.

“Growing up in LA, film was very important culturally,” Smith told us in a recent interview. “We talked about movies a lot, but not just about the stories; also about how they were written and if we’d ever run into the director walking down the boulevard. After moving here to the Midwest, I really began to miss that element of my home, which is what led to the idea of Gray Duck.”

The theater — to be located on 6th Avenue Northwest in the Cooke Park Design District — will be based on three founding ideals: locality, conversation and community.

Since locality is a top priority for the theater, many of the concessions will be sourced from southeast Minnesota. “We’re hoping to keep the price fair and within reason for Rochester locals,” explained Smith.

Conversation is another element separating Gray Duck Theater from its competitors, he said. With welcoming lobbies and generous passing time between showings, Smith hopes to make guests feel welcome to stay after the film for healthy discussion, as opposed to being “shuffled out." 

Additionally, in an effort to facilitate conversation, the theater plans to show special features with filmmakers, politicians and other local figures.

“Movies make us want to talk," said Smith. "Even if the viewer hated it, they want to talk to other people about what it made them think and feel. At Gray Duck Theater, we want to hear it.”

In opening the 66-seat theater, Smith also wants to provide Rochester with a “well-rounded film diet." Gray Duck Theater will show movies from a variety of genres including indie, foreign, documentary and classical. Other special events will include film marathons, and local live music and comedy.

Gray Duck Theater is on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @grayducktheater with the most recent information on upcoming events, opening dates and fundraising opportunities to support the theater.

Sid Clarke is a student at Mayo High School, where she is president of the Literature Club. In the past, she has been a columnist for the Post Bulletin and an independent novelist. Sid finds writing inspiration from Shakespeare, Stravinsky and Metallica. 

Cover photo: Licensed / Canva

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