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Detroit Independent Movie Theaters and Art Houses

Indie, Cult, Classic, Short, Documentary, and Foreign-Language Films


You hear about these movies by word of mouth or through award nominations, but you don't remember them being shown at your local movie theater. That's because there are only a hand full of Detroit Independent Movie Theaters and Art Houses that show indie, cult, experimental, short, documentary and foreign-language films.

Updated August 21, 2013

Ann Arbor: Michigan Theater

Couple enjoying movie in theater
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Not only does the Michigan Theater show independent, classic and foreign-language films, it also hosts many events, is a venue in the Ann Arbor Film Festival and hosts a summer film camp. The historic, non-profit theater has two screens: the 1700-seat historic auditorium and a 200-seat screening room.

Ann Arbor: State Theatre

The State Theatre was designed by C. Howard Crane, the same architect who designed the Fox Theatre in Detroit. It has two auditoriums and, sometimes, hosts midnight shows. Its schedule includes independent and classic films.

Birmingham: Birmingham 8

The Birmingham 8 was originally built as a single-screen movie house in 1927 and subdivided in 1996 to accommodate eight screens. It hosts first-run movies and independent films. It also has stadium seating.

Bloomfield Hills: The Maple Theater

The Maple Theater, which changed ownership in 2012, specializes in alternative films. The theater has three screens and, after a change of ownership and renovations in 2012, a coffee space in the lobby that often schedules live music. It also has new theater seats with swivel trays, and assigned seating. The theater hosts theme nights like Old Hollywood and Secret Cinema, as well as movie-related events like a sing along to Les Miserables. The theater's concession includes beer and wine. Facebook page

Detroit: Corktown Cinema

-- Not Currently Operating --

The Burton Theatre opened in 2009 as an art-house venue for independent and cult films. After sudden closure a couple years later, the spirit of the theater remained as galleries and warehouses played host to movie events. Currently, Corktown Cinema (FKA Burton Theatre) is searching for a new space.

Detroit: Detroit Film Theatre

The historic Detroit Film Theatre is located within the Detroit Institute of Arts and has been slowly renovating the seats in its auditorium to conform to the theatre's original 1927 aesthetic. Of course, the new seats will be comfortable as well. The theatre is part of the DIA's recognition of motion pictures as an art medium, and its schedule includes "contemporary and classic world cinema." In addition to independent films, foreign-language films, documentaries, and classics, the theatre hosts a Saturday afternoon Animation Club presentation. The theatre contains the Crystal Gallery Cafe on its balcony level.

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Detroit: The Redford Theatre

The Redford Theatre has been in business continuously since 1928 despite economic ups and downs. These days, the large venue has non-profit status, a three-story grand foyer, 1,661 seats, and a restored Japanese motif. The Motor City Theatre Organ Society ("MCTOS") bought the theatre in 1977 and has been continually raising money for ongoing restoration and renovation ever since. The theater's schedule is mainly made up of classic films.

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Detroit: Senate Theater

The Senate Theater is currently operated by the non-profit Detroit Theater Organ Society ("DTOS"). The 800-seat theater schedule is somewhat sporadic and alternates between showing classic films and hosting musical performances. While the Senate Theater dates back to 1926, it fell into decline in the 1950s and eventually stood empty. It was rescued by the DTOS in the 1960s as a new home to the Wurlitzer organ from the movie palace days of The Fisher Theater.

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Livonia: AMC Livonia 20

A modern movie house with all the latest technology and stadium seating, the AMC 20 in Livonia often includes limited-engagement and independent films as part of its "commitment to advancing independent film."

Madison Heights: AMC Star John R 15

A modern movie house with all the latest technology and stadium seating, the AMC John R 15 includes an occasional independent film as part of its schedule. Note: The Theater now has reclining seats available.
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