Friday Afternoon Club: Scoring “Milk” a Coup for Orchard Theatre

Jeff Brein, owner of the Historic Orchard Theatre’s parent company, considers is a “coup” that the Orchard – opened just a year ago in downtown Port Orchard – was able to show the Oscar-nominated “Milk” this early in its run.

The film, which opened in December, runs today through Thursday at the Orchard and at Bainbridge Island Cinemas, both owned by Far Away Productions, Brein’s company.

The Orchard’s 7 p.m. Thursday showing of the film is a fund-raiser for Kitsap Pride, with proceeds going toward Kitsap County’s annual Gay Pride event, set for July 18 at Evergreen Park in Bremerton.

“Milk,” starring Sean Penn, tells the story of Harvey Milk, who in 1977, was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, becoming the first openly gay man to be voted into public office in America.

Documentary/art films like “Milk” that may not have immediate mainstream appeal are typically slower to hit the major markets. Studios want to create a buzz about the film, Brein said, so they release a limited number of copies, watch the markets carefully and send the film to theaters where they can be fairly confident it will be well received.

The Orchard has been getting requests for “Milk” from members of the South Kitsap audience that Brein describes as a healthy mix of families, “retirees, military, professionals and working class” residents.

“It’s a real melting pot when you look at the 5 to 10 mile radius of that theater,” Brein said.

Kitsap Pride is one of a number of groups The Orchard has supported over the past year.

Kitsap resident Stan Hess, who plans to attend the fund-raiser, said he welcomes the expanded entertainment choices offered by The Orchard.

“A lot of us here on this side of the pond either don’t have the funds or don’t have the time to go over to Seattle to see it,” Hess said. “There certainly is a market on this side for so-called art films.”

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