Main Art Theater in Royal Oak permanently closes after 80 years

Jason Krzysiak, of Pleasant Ridge, speaks to a group gathered for a “Love In” at the closed Main Art Theater in Royal Oak on June 16.

A group gathers at the closed Main Art Theater in Royal Oak on June 16. The individuals shared the memories created at the place and reflected on ways to preserve the place as an independent theater.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

    Pam Murray, center, holds a sign with a message of hope during a

Pam Murray, center, holds a sign with a message of hope during a “Love In” at the closed Main Art Theater in Royal Oak on June 16.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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ROYAL OAK – Earlier this month, the iconic marquee at the historic Main Art Theater sported a blunt farewell message: “The owner kicked us out. It was a fun ride. – Main Art Crew RIP 1941-2021.

The message, which has been disputed as a possible stretch of truth, was then withdrawn, leaving the board blank.

The theater was temporarily closed due to the pandemic difficulties in April.

According to the theater’s website, Landmark Theaters managed the property. The website says Landmark has grown to include 45 theaters and 229 screens in 26 markets since its founding in 1974.

Landmark Theaters could not be reached for comment before press time.

Fans of mainstream art and independent, foreign and avant-garde films held a “Love In” at the shuttered theater on June 16.

Jason Krzysiak, of Pleasant Ridge, created the event on Facebook a few days earlier and said he was happy with about 40 people attending. He said the group plans to continue meeting at 6 p.m. on Wednesdays to rally at the theater and sympathize with their loss.

“People were really united,” he said. “It’s a really valuable part of our cultural landscape. Everyone pretty much agreed – when we lose places like Main Art, we lose more than a building. It really is about the heart and soul of who we are as a community and what we value as a community.

He said the group was looking to identify ways to help preserve the theater and intended to continue the conversation and create more distinct goals, as well as showing up at city meetings to start the movement.

The new Facebook page created to centralize grassroots efforts is “Friends of the Main Art Theater,” which had over 400 members at the time of publication.

Krzysiak said he’s been a regular at Main Art since the early 1990s, and part of the reason he bought his house in Pleasant Ridge in 2001 was that it’s a 23-minute walk away. of the place.

“When the marquee appeared this weekend, I was quite upset,” he said. “It was very sudden, although in retrospect it seems like it was developing and I had been very nervous, obviously, with the pandemic and everything.”

Krzysiak said the theater has been the source of unforgettable memories with his wife, children and friends over the years, and it is disappointing to lose him. He said he understood the business arguments behind the demise of arthouse cinema, but that the experience could not be replaced by home streaming or mainstream theaters.

“The cultural landscape of southern Oakland County is very different than it was 20 years ago,” he said. “It’s very sterile, and we’re losing a lot of the reasons people live in this area. To me, that seems like a telltale sign of the direction he’s going, which is really baffling. “

Stephen Fleck, psychologist and co-owner of Changez Salon, said he and her husband, Jason Rice, of Royal Oak, liked to go to the theater for date nights half a dozen times a year and that the Main’s closure Art was sad. .

“It has been around forever and we are a big advocate of helping other small businesses in Royal Oak,” said Fleck. “We liked the fun, independent movies they showed.”

He said that while the closing is sad, it doesn’t surprise him.

“Today people rent a lot of movies from home,” he said. “It also hasn’t been updated in ages, and there were old-fashioned chairs that were smaller and a bit lumpy. The person who sold you your ticket also received your popcorn.

He added that the addition of Emagine Theater behind Main Art may also have contributed to the demise of the smaller theater.

The Main Art Theater is located at 118 N. Main St., north of 11 Mile Road.

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