A movie shot primarily in Chippewa Falls has had its stay in a local theater extended twice and will now go a third week.
“The Lumber Baron,” written and produced by Chippewa Valley historical scholar Karen Hurd, debuted May 24 in Hollywood, at Mayfair Theatre in Ottawa, Canada, and in the Micon Downtown Cinema in Eau Claire, where it has been playing since.
The feature-length film explores the tale of Daniel Rimsdale, who returns to Chippewa Falls to salvage his father’s lumber business. The character is entangled in a hunt for hidden treasure inside a mansion along the way.
That mansion is heavily inspired by Chippewa Falls’ Cook-Rutledge Mansion, 505 W. Grand Ave., which was the primary set location during filming.
The red-brick mansion originally housed a real-life “lumber baron,” Edward Rutledge, from 1887 to 1911.
The movie will be going to Amazon, iTunes and DVD, distributed through Indican Pictures, a partner with Lionsgate.
Hurd said that while they knew people were interested in the area, seeing it so well received is exciting.
Micon had originally planned on showing it for only a week, but extended it due to continued high ticket sales.
“There’s just a lot of interest,’ Hurd said. “They’re selling out most of their shows.”
She said the more surprising response had been the interest in the independent film from Hollywood and its being picked by Lionsgate.
“That’s big,” Hurd said.
The film’s director, crew and several starring actors hail from the Midwest. Dr. Ethan Wickman — a former UW-Eau Claire professor and award-winning composer — wrote the score.
In a statement, director Barry Andersson said the movie is best described as the American Downton Abbey meets Undercover Boss.
“I wanted to capture the difference between the wealth of high society and the sweat and dirt from the men who ultimately fed the wealth,” Andersson said.
In addition to featuring Chippewa Falls and referring to the area and people of the Chippewa Valley, Hurd said the story will resonate with viewers.
“It’s inspiring, it brings hope,” Hurd said. “It challenges you to persevere through difficult situations.”