A Theater Going Dark: Remembering Breckenridge’s Cinema 6

The movie theater in Breckenridge, Minn., had just six screens. It wasn’t a megaplex. It didn’t have stadium seating. It didn’t have recliner seats. It didn’t even have a huge concessions selection.

What it did have, though, was a dedicated staff and a small town charm. For a town with a population of 3,199, bordering the city of Wahpeton, N.D., with a 7,753 population count, it was a serviceable cinema.

Unfortunately, it was recently reported that the location, owned by the CEC Theatres company, will not reopen after having been closed because of the coronavirus. For me, it hits pretty hard.

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The Wahpeton-Breckenridge area, known locally as the Twin Towns, was where I had my first job after graduating from Minnesota State University in Moorhead, which is just an hour drive north. I had already been writing movie reviews for my blog since 2008 and once I began working for the community’s newspaper, I was able to start a movie column there, too.

Of course, this meant going to the Cinema 6 a lot. By going back and reviewing my LetterBoxD account, I saw about 105 movies there. As someone who doesn’t get invited to critic screenings, that meant spending a lot of my Thursday and Friday nights there. Occasionally, that meant seeing films on Saturday afternoons, too.

There were some times I traveled north to Fargo, N.D. to see some of the big summer tent-pole flicks at the larger cineplexes, or went and caught more independent features at that city’s historic downtown theater. However, most of the time during my three years in the Twin Towns, I would see a movie at Cinema 6.

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There was a delightful simplicity to going to the Cinema 6. It was near the end of a classic main street that extended across both Wahpeton and Breckenridge. Across from the street from the theater were railroad tracks and grain silos.

Another nice thing about the theater was how close it was to the Wilkin Drink and Eatery. The establishment opened as a hotel in 1897 and still operates as a bar and grill today. It was a great spot to grab an appetizer and a beer before seeing a movie at the theater, and I ended up doing that often.

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A lot of my memories of going to Cinema 6 often include leaving the Wilkin and making the short journey across the avenue to the theater. It was a great way to spend an afternoon and/or evening.

As for the movies themselves, being a smaller cinema, I wasn’t always able to watch Oscar-nominated films there. But there was still plenty of quality content coming through.

 

 

Along with “Prisoners,” I was able to enjoy really good films such as “Argo,” “Gravity” and “Captain Phillips.”

Now, not all moments at the Cinema 6 were fantastic. For example, the theater did have its occasional technical difficulties.

 

 

I also had the displeasure of seeing some really bad movies there. Not the fault of the theater of course, but I can’t say I had any fun watching “Endless Love” and “Winter’s Tale” back-to-back there, both of which made my top 10 worst of the year list.

With that said, I missed the theater like hell when I had a knee injury in 2015. My left leg was out of commission from mid-January through March, and as a result I was unable to go to the movie theater.

 

 

I finally got back to the theater in early March, and even though I had to sit through the rather disappointing motion picture “Chappie,” it still felt good to be back in front of the big screen. Movie theaters have always been special to me and finally getting back was wonderful.

 

 

Just as I was getting back, though, I ended up leaving Cinema 6 just a few months later. After close to three years in the Twin Towns, I moved to Bemidji, Minn., leaving the theater behind.

My last few movies were somewhat of a roller coaster. It included an above average disaster/adventure movie in “San Andreas,” the forgettable “Tomorrowland,” the good comedy “Spy” and the below average “Insidious 3.” Not the best lineup for a finale, but hey, it’s more about the journey than the destination.

I’ve been to grander theaters than the Cinema 6. Breckenridge’s movie house isn’t the greatest place I’ve enjoyed the art of film. However, like that community itself, I felt welcomed into that theater with open arms.

It was a smaller, but comfortable place to check out new flicks. It’s sad knowing those doors are going to be closed, leaving the Twin Towns without a cinema. The memories will carry on, though.

Author: Matthew Liedke

I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, and I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2009 graduate of Rainy River College and a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University in Moorhead. At MSU, I studied journalism and film. Outside of movies, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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