Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Remodeling The Moviegoing Experience

Waiting For A Movie? Enjoy Some Coffee!

Written by Matt Giles
Edited by Erin Accomando and David Hall

The smell of fresh popcorn, the look of a beautiful print displayed on the screen, the sound of whispers as everyone quiets down, the feel of the seats as you recline, and the taste of sweet fountain pop are all part of the movie going experience. The quality of these components has an effect on our overall enjoyment of a particular film.

The theaters that offer the most unique spin on this experience are usually the independent ones; the ones that, for whatever reason, have managed to stay alive in an era of mainstream movie houses where foreign and independent cinema are virtually unheard of. The Maple Theater, located in Bloomfield Hills, is not only a great venue for seeing quality films, but one that is changing the definition of a night at the movies.

The Maple reopened a few weeks ago after months of renovations and Jon Goldstein, the theater owner, is bringing his own unique perspective to quality. “I hired designers that were more familiar with restaurant spaces. This was the best choice I could have made as they brought an entirely unique point of view to the renovations,” Goldstein said.

Great Lakes Coffee
True to his word, when you walk into The Maple, what you see is something very modern - Great Lakes Coffee equipped with many tables and a few leather chairs for patrons to relax in before seeing a film. There’s even a bar section near the middle of the theater where people can feel free to unwind.

“We are aiming to celebrate the movie theater as a medium all its own,” Communications Director Jeremy Mills said. ”We hope movie lovers will realize how much we care about their experience and that we will continue to tweak and perfect the viewer experience as tastes and technology progress.”

This kind of attention to detail is something that too many theaters lack, making The Maple’s reopening that much more appreciated. Owning an independent theater in today’s economy isn’t easy, especially with a Midwest location, which restricts the number of movies a theater like The Maple may obtain.

Wall of Cameras Located in The Theater Lobby
“We are at a bit of a disadvantage, but New York and L.A. are really the testing grounds for art product,” Goldstein said, adding that his issue “is not that they get them first, but that much of the reviews and info about these movies happen when the movies starts. By the time we get the films there is no marketing support that let's people know they are playing.”

To combat the lack of availability of certain movies, The Maple successfully made the transition to digital projectors – a switch that many independent theaters cannot afford, forcing them out of business. However, The Maple is still at a particular disadvantage because of their previous owner, Landmark, the Los Angeles-based movie chain that currently owns one of the biggest competitors of The Maple, The Main Art Theater in Royal Oak.

“They refuse to allow us to play any movie they book. We have an open policy and are happy to compete with anyone and everyone. Landmark uses their buying power as the largest exhibitor of independent and foreign film to block other theaters from showing titles. I think it is a short sighted and crappy business practice as we enter the digital age,” Goldstein said.

An Updated Marque 
Regardless of Landmark’s restrictions and the Mid-western location, Goldstein remains as optimistic as ever. The care he and all of the employees have for not only the movies themselves but the experience the theater offers them sets The Maple apart from virtually every other theater in the area. This is a theater that’s run by a lover of movies.

The decision could have been made to simply let The Maple continue to deteriorate, but instead Goldstein chose to resurrect it because he knows the value of independent cinema. His aim is to show films that are “good” but also balancing it out with a little bit of everything, which includes mainstream films as well.

When we see a great movie, we’re giddy with excitement. When we remember a particular theater because of the experience it alone offers, it’s something truly magical. Thankfully, The Maple Theater has brought back the wonder and excitement of going to the movies.

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