Jan 18, 2024 - News

Cinema Detroit seeks new location after losing Midtown space

Illustration of a movie theater marquee with question marks on it

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Cinema Detroit is looking for a new permanent space to screen movies for film lovers after leaving the Midtown location it rented since 2015 last year.

Why it matters: Detroit is a movie theater desert.

  • The group's former space on Third Street was one of the only places within city limits to watch commercial or first-run movies on the big screen. The group also curated a variety of independent films and documentaries.

What they're saying: Cinema Detroit continues to show films in its new, work-in-progress pop-up model, co-founder Paula Guthat tells Axios.

  • Check out the films page for upcoming shows at venues across the city like the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit ranging from A24/Neon films to Oscar contenders and independent and locally made films.

Between the lines: "My husband and I started the theater because we were tired of driving to the suburbs," Guthat says. "We're a nonprofit. We never really made lots of money; we just wanted to bring film to the city."

Zoom out: Talk of bringing a large-scale movie theater to Detroit in recent years haven't gone very far: Rapper Big Sean said he was opening an Emagine theater near Wayne State's campus but talks have stalled, Crain's reports.

  • Originally proposed to have 10-12 screens at a cost of about $25 million, Emagine now says it wants to scale back the size of the project given its new $35 million-plus price tag, CEO Anthony LaVerde told Crain's this week.

What happened: Cinema Detroit rented space at the former Burton Elementary School in Cass Corridor from Joel Landy from 2013-2015 before moving into the space at 4126 Third St.

  • The group was there from 2015 until July 2023 before building owner Akbar Noorbakhsh put it up for sale after the other user that shared the building, Allied Media Projects, moved to Grand River.
  • Guthat says the building remains for sale. Noorbakhsh didn't return our requests for comment.

What's next: Cinema Detroit and MOCAD screen "Quantum Cowboys" inside the Midtown art gallery at 6:30pm Friday.

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