The Future Takes Shape at the Michigan

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The Detroit Movie Palaces are all living museums of movie theater history. But to keep their past alive, these theaters must continually look to the future. The Michigan Theater gave a vivid demonstration of that commitment on March 4, 2007.

At the annualmembership meeting, strong supporters of the Michigan heard presentations on the recent successes of the theater, as well as on goals and strategies. Later, hundreds of young future filmgoers enjoyed the latest installment in the theater’s Family-Friendly Film Series.

Annual Meeting

The annual membership meeting of the Michigan Theater Foundation, Inc. has become one ofthe most interesting and valuablebenefits of my membership. It’s quite intriguing and informative to hear a behind-the-scenes description of what goes on at theMichigan.

As visitors walk in, they pick up a financial report on the theater.This document shows the manyitems that must bemanaged to keep the theater financially viable. Expenses include salariesand wages, film expenses, depreciation, and utilities. Income to pay for all of this comes from a variety of sources,including films, rentals (such as live events), membership fees, and major gifts.

On hand to explain everything were Executive Director & CEO Russ Collins, Annual Gifts/Membership Director Laura Barnes, and members of the Board of Directors. They talked about their stewardship responsibilities to the Ann Arbor areaand their goal to”continuously enhance the community’s investment in the ‘glow’ of the Michigan.”

One goal is to become “a world-class cinema culture institution,” which this year will include participation again in the Sundance Institute Art House Project. That project gives the Michigan contact with other theaters around the country, helping the theater benchmark its film program to assure best practices in programming, marketing and technical execution.

Wallace and Gromit

One concern at the membership meeting was the effect on the Michigan Theater of the closing of the Ann Arbor office of Pfizer Inc. That was particularly relevant, because the meeting was followed by the latest movie in the Pfizer Family-Friendly Film Series at the Michigan.

But economic concerns seemed to be the last thing on everyone’s mind as they gathered for a showing of all three of the 30-minute films that introduced the world to the animated duo of thebumbling, cheese-eating Wallace andhis faithful and frustrated dog Gromit.

I first saw these movies about 15 years ago at theDetroit Film Theatre. I’ve always been impressed with their clever satire and skillful clay animation. I always wondered if I’d have the chance to seeall three together in a theater, and the creativefilm programmers at theMichigan made my wish came true.

On this late winterSunday afternoon, parents steeredsmall children to their seats, balancing bigpopcorn buckets and cups of soft drinksas they gave directions.A short intermission after the first two films helped shake any restlessnessout of the boys andgirls.In the outer lobby,a GirlScout cookie sale added to the youthful feeling of the day.

Maybe 10-20 yearsfrom now, when the young visitorsof that March 4 afternoon areattending the University of Michigan or settled in the area with jobs and families, they’ll return to the Michigan to relive their happy memories.Thecurrent commitments of the Michigan Theater staff and members will help make that possible.

Detroit Movie Palaces Home Page

Copyright 2007 by Robert Hollberg Smith, Jr.

2 Responses to “The Future Takes Shape at the Michigan”

  1. Laura Barnes says:

    I’m glad you value and enjoy our annual meeting of members. I like meeting the members face-to-face. I’m glad you could attend.

    Wallace and Gromit are so funny! It was great that we could feature their three short films after the meeting of members.

    I really liked how you ended this blog entry. I like looking to the future and envisioning the Michigan Theater a vital establishment in Ann Arbor. We can’t do this without the support of the community today. So thanks for your faithful support.

  2. Administrator says:

    I look forward to seeing the many exciting plans that were mentioned at the meeting take shape. It was also fun to hear the different questions from the audience. People really care about the Michigan.

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