Monday, February 28, 2011

No plans to compete with the Main - Emagine

Rest assured that the new Emagine 10-screen Royal Oak multiplex will not compete with the venerable Main Art Theatre next door.....Michigan-based Emagine will be opening the theatre at 11 Mile and Troy Street in May. Emagine - which breaks the mold for cinemas with a number of amenities like bowling lanes, alcohol, and reserved seating - is putting a theatre in Royal Oak because the suburban city is already an entertainment and shopping mecca.....”The plan is not to affect the Main at all except to enhance movie-going in Royal Oak with commercial films as well,” Ruth Daniels, Emagine’s senior vice president of sales and marketing told Windsor Detroit Film.....Daniels can understand concerns about Emagine’s impact on the Main. “I understand where you’re coming from. I ran the Maple for several years,” a reference to the Main’s sister art house, the Maple in Bloomfield Hills. Both are owned by Los Angeles-based Landmark Theatres. ”I’m an art house lover,” she said.....Daniels said Emagine’s market is quite different from that of the Main. She said there would not be occasions where the two theatres would screen the same films. Emagine’s current Detroit properties are screening movies like The King’s Speech and Black Swan – which are also being shown by Landmark – but Emagine's theatres are not in close proximity to Landmark’s Main and Maple. Daniels said it still could happen that Emagine will open a film that is borderline art. But it won’t be screened next to the Main. Likewise, the Main usually has first dibs on art house movies. “They pretty much have the lock on art house films and they usually get them,” she said......Let's hope the line is thickly drawn between the two theatres' offerings, that co-existence prevails, and that Emagine indeed will draw more filmgoers to Royal Oak - who will curious to check out the Main's offerings next door.

And this just in  Get ready to check out a two night festival of made-in-Michigan films March 11 - 12. The first Uptown Film Festival will recognize movies shot wholly or partly here. The films will screen at Birmingham's Palladium 12 and the Birmingham 8, both in downtown Birmingham. Kill the Irishman starring Christopher Walken will open the fest. It will close with the second annual Michigan Film Awards. Festival passes are available. For more go to

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Emagine to open behind Main Art

Emagine Entertainment will be opening its 10-screen megaplex in downtown Royal Oak in May. I’ve heard advertising describing the theatre as being at Main Street and 11 Mile Rd. (technically it’s at Troy St. and 11 Mile, a short block away on the former grocery store property). But wait...that’s the corner of Landmark Theatres Main Art Theatre. What will be the affect of Emagine’s glitzy and amenities-packed cineplex on the tried-and-true Main, a traditional theatre converted into the three-screen art house in the Nineties but is far from state of the art. Attempts to reach a spokesperson for Landmark have been unsuccessful. Someone close to the situation told me that the theatre doesn’t think Emagine will have a negative impact on the Main and might in fact improve attendance. The thinking is that by attracting more filmgoers to the Main Street and 11 Mile corridor theatregoers unfamiliar with Royal Oak may discover the Main for the first time and check out its offerings......This person said the theatre certainly has no intention of closing though there could be concerns about parking. Emagine will have an adjacent parking structure for vehicles as well as a surface lot. But next door is the Main’s parking lot, which can be tight indeed during popular movies or on a weekend evening. It’s very easy to see Emagine customers exploiting the parking lot. Hopefully the Main will adequately police it.....There’s another - and problematic - consideration. Some of the films screened at the Main are less than true art house fare. For example, currently showing is Black Swan. Black Swan also is screening at Emagine’s existing cinemas. Emagine  also is showing indie type films like Cedar Rapids (from Sundance), Carmen in 3D, and The King’s Speech, the last also being screened at Landmark’s Maple Art Theatre in Bloomfield Hills.....Will Emagine’s programming cut into the Main’s audience by offering some of the same movies but in upscale surroundings (including reserved seating, alcohol, and boutique bowling)? Or will Landmark have to sharpen its screenings to show true art films? But by doing so it could suffer an overall revenue loss. Presumably one of the reasons it screens mainstream movies is because its indie titles can’t draw enough people.....More on this in the next post.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine's Day (film) massacres

I’m proud to say that leading the list of online Slate magazine’s worst Valentine’s movies ever made is My Bloody Valentine (George Mihalka), the 1981 version (not the January 2009 release in 3-D) made in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. I haven’t seen the remake, shot in Pennsylvania, but can’t believe it could be better, in pure awfulness, than the earlier picture. I lived in Cape Breton at the time. And the island was undergoing something of a movie-making boom. Filmmakers were drawn to the northern Nova Scotia island because of its picturesque landscape, old coal mines, and colourful traditionally Celtic people. Slate’s critic Mark Jordan Logan has a great laugh about the movie’s heavy handed murder scenes, indeed clich├ęs in just about every frame. There’s a bar scene with a Moosehead beer logo in the background. Now that’s East Coast! Check out the review – better yet rent the film for some fantastic howls (real & unintentional) - at

Readings: Think we don’t have a rich indie or art house theatre tradition? Check out John Monaghan’s piece in today’s Detroit Free Press. It’s a good roundup of the variety of Motown theatres showing independent fare, from the DFT to Landmark’s two venues to the Burton. He quotes one new resident, who came from Atlanta, saying Detroit has a more vibrant art house culture than his former southern city, with a variety of films he wouldn’t expect “outside of New York City.” The piece is at

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Susannah York; and the VIP experience

I was saddened by the death of British stage and film actress Susannah York. She died Jan. 15 from advanced bone marrow cancer, a week after turning 72. For me as for many others York, like Julie Christie, was emblematic of British film in the era of the Swinging Sixties (remember those?) She had roles in some of the most memorable films of the era including Tom Jones (Tony Richardson, 1963) and A Man for All Seasons (Fred Zinnemann, 1966). I’ll especially remember her in The Killing of Sister George (Robert Aldrich, 1968) where she played the young innocent sex toy Alice 'Childie' McNaught to Beryl Reid’s June 'George' Buckridge . Over the past decade I was fortunate to catch York perform live at The Ark in Ann Arbor, where she took her touring The Loves of Shakespeare’s Women performing soliloquies from female roles of the Bard. RIP Susannah.

Meanwhile I was in London Ontario last month and saw what high end movie going was all about. I attended a screening of Barney’s Version at Westmount Cineplex, one of three Ontario theatres to have a separate VIP section. Sure, you pay five dollars more ($16.25) compared to a regular adult ticket. But it might be worth it especially if you’re planning a night on the town. (Good thinking Cineplex!) First of all you enter the VIP section from the main lobby. There are glazed doors that automatically open after you pay your ticket. You enter an upscale environment not unlike a nightclub or trendy art gallery. There is a long bar and numerous lounge tables and chairs. The area has its own restrooms - natch. The theatres themselves feature bigger more comfortable and reclining chairs and smaller auditoriums. They’re 100 seats each. When buying your tickets you’re shown an illuminated screen seating chart and  pick your seats. The seats have adjoining tables where you put food and beverages including alcohol. Prior to the start of the movie servers come to your seat to take food and drink orders. Menus include five cocktails such as the Cineplex Caesar ($6.95) and foods like the Deluxe Nachos and Smoked Turkey Ciabatta each under $7. A Cineplex spokeswoman said the VIP auditoriums sell out “ahead of any other auditorium showing the same film.” But it makes sense. Why split your time going out to eat and drink somewhere else and then drive to the cinema when you can have it all in one place?