Plans for Royal Oak’s downtown movie theater center go public

Plans for a movie theater in downtown Royal Oak are moving forward after the city’s Planning Commission recommended approving the project Tuesday night. The plans are expected to go before the Royal Oak City Commission later this fall.

“I have no question that a well-run, first-class movie theater has a place in downtown Royal Oak,” says Paul Glantz, founder and chairman of Emagine Entertainment.

The plans to build a 2-story, 10-screen theater in the vacant lot on 11 Mile Road behind the Main Art Theatre have been refined. The 73,000-square-foot building will look like Emagine Entertainment’s theaters in Novi and Canton, clad in brick and limestone. It will show first-run movies and is not expected to provide direct competition with an indie-and-foreign movie house like the Main Art Theatre.

The new cinema’s entrance will face the back of the Main Art Theatre while the section facing 11 Mile will have windows similar to a traditional storefront but will otherwise be an inactive space. Traffic will be routed off of 11 Mile around the theater and then out onto Troy Street.

The $14 million project will house 1,680 seats and a 16-lane bowling alley and bar that are meant to complement the movie-going experience. There will also be a private party area/meeting room on a second-floor mezzanine area over the main entrance. The developer will reconfigure the parking lot between the Main Art Theatre and the new cinema to accommodate a few more cars along with landscaping and traffic islands.

The theater is expected to create 40 new full-time jobs and another 60 part-time positions. Although smaller than the industry standard for a multiplex of 18 screens, it is not expected to ever reach full capacity. A study of comparable theaters show they only reached above 70 percent capacity five nights a year, mainly on the weekends. The highest daily average attendance is about 40 percent on Friday evenings and a little over 50 percent on Saturday evenings.

Source: Paul Glantz, founder and chairman of the Emagine Entertainment and city of Royal Oak
Writer: Jon Zemke