About 10 years ago, the Michigan Theater took advantage of some available property behind the theater to add a smaller theater that has helped the Michigan greatly expand its entertainment offerings.
The Screening Room has become a way for patrons to enjoy more movies at the Michigan. Just this afternoon, I saw the sweet and poignant animated film From Up on Poppy Hill in the acoustically perfect intimacy of the Screening Room, while other filmgoers watched The Great Gatsby in 3-D in the main theater.
When the 200-seat Screening Room opened in 1999, it allowed the Michigan to continue extended runs of films when the main theater was being used for special events like the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra.
Through the years, it’s also become a unique public space that has been used for presentations to smaller groups, like a discussion of film preservation at the 2012 Ann Arbor Film Festival.
After such events, the area just outside the Screening Room has become a comfortable area for visiting and further discussions, similar to the first floor of the Grand Foyer just outside of the main theater.
The Screening Room was part of a theater addition that also included first floor restrooms and more office space for the Michigan staff. The corridor that connects the older part of the theater and the Screening Room includes a historical display about Ann Arbor, including information about the Butterfield movie chain that helped launch the Michigan.
This respect for history continues inside the Screening Room, where you can see a panoramic display of long-gone theaters like the Orpheum, Wuerth, and Whitney.
And although the Screening Room is much smaller than the main theater, it retains its elegance and style with roomy, historical seats and a Hammond C2 electric organ that warms up the crowd like the Barton Theater Pipe Organ in the main theater.
Copyright © 2013 by Robert Hollberg Smith, Jr.