It looks like the final credits rolled into the Main Art Theater, a Metro Detroit movie staple for decades and a hotbed of indie and arthouse dishes that has opened the eyes of moviegoers to a world beyond. Hollywood blockbusters.
“The owner kicked us out,” reads the theater’s iconic marquee along Main Street just north of 11 Mile in downtown Royal Oak. “It was a fun ride. … RIP 1941-2021.”
In April, theater officials announced that the three-screen cinema was temporarily shutting down. At this moment, Margot Gerber, vice president of marketing and advertising for Los Angeles-based theater owner Landmark Theaters, said, “It really comes down to finances and attendance.
“The decision was made to try and keep theaters closed that don’t cover their expenses,” Gerber said. “As to when it will reopen, I’m not exactly sure.”
Landmark representatives could not be reached for immediate comment on Saturday.
Paul Glantz, president of Emagine Entertainment, whose Emagine Royal Oak theater shares a parking lot – and owner – with Main Art, said on Saturday he thought it was a “misinterpretation to say” the owner kicked us out “. Landmark just hasn’t paid its rent.”
Glantz has said that Emagine’s Birmingham 8 Theater will seek to “take over” from the departure of Main Art, but he has no interest in acquiring the building.
“I am concerned that the building itself is not in a good condition,” he said, saying the dilapidation inside the theater suggests a brighter future for development. “I don’t see it coming back like a movie theater.”
The Main Art specializes in art films and independent cooking, and has shown cult films in midnight screenings on Friday and Saturday nights. The theater screened mainstream films before its arthouse makeover in the early ’90s.
Chene Koppitz ran the theater from 1998 to 2005. In the summer of 1999, the Main was one of 15 theaters in North America to play “The Blair Witch Project,” and Koppitz recalls that all of the shows on the program were complete and that people came from as far away as Indiana and upstate New York to see the independent horror sensation. Queues of moviegoers wrapped around the building, dealerships were sold – even the lesser-sold ones, like Jordan Almonds, she said – and there was so much money piling up that employees had to make bank transfers every few hours.
Koppitz said the Main has films that are aimed not only at those who want to see quality films from the independent American end of the spectrum, but also foreign films, cult “silly” films like “The Room.” and nostalgic films for someone born in 1985, like “The Goonies”.
It was also a theater that showed a lot of LGBTQ + movies and was a place “where gays can come together, feel safe, feel protected and see their lives on screen, and that’s so precious,” he said. said Koppitz.
“It will always be the legacy of The Main. It showed Metro Detroit that people really love cinema and want to be in community with cinema, even if they haven’t taken a film appreciation course, even if they didn’t know who Kurosawa was, “Koppitz said. “To be a part of that legacy is amazing, and I’m so happy. I’m so happy that I got to spend this time with people who loved going to the movies.”
Trixie and Scott Fabijanski walked past the theater on a Saturday morning walk and were left stunned after seeing the marquee.
Residents of Royal Oak, 20, said they went to the theater when they first met in the 1990s and were heartbroken.
“It’s a big deal for us,” Trixie said. “We have a lot of salons. We have a lot of restaurants. But we are losing art. It’s a shame.”
Scott said they made it a point to go to the theater because they were afraid they “were going to lose him. I’m just shocked to see that.”
Barton Traines was washing the windows on Saturday morning at a restaurant across from the theater when he heard news of its closure.
“When I was 12 my parents took me to the movies there,” Traines said. “I’m sad to see it’s gone.”
Cinemas nationwide have struggled to do business since COVID-19 forced many theaters to close for most of 2020. After being closed for much of the year, Main Art has reopened the Christmas day.
As it stands, her last screenings were Michelle Pfeiffer’s offbeat comedy “French Exit” and the Oscar-winning film “Minari”, which stars Steven Yeun, a student of Troy, on April 22.
Aside from Main Art, Landmark operates 44 theaters in 15 states and Washington, DC. The chain does not operate any other cinema in Michigan.
Detroit News editor Jennifer Chambers contributed.