Movieland Theaters (Michigan, USA)

Background: Movieland Theaters was founded in 1973 by Bill Crosser (not Bill Cosby, the main star of the 1984-1992 TV show, The Cosby Show). The chain began in the small city of Ellsworth, Michigan, United States at the address of 9019 Main Street. Bill began to show exploitation films until 1983 when the chain expanded from one two-screen theater to two additional locations. In 1977, the original single-screen theater was crowded with patrons flocking to see Star Wars in its opening weekend. By 1984, the chain had expanded to 3 locations throughout southeast Michigan: an indoor theater in Lansing and two drive-in theaters near Detroit and Grand Rapids, facing competition from American Multi-Cinema, Murphy's Theaters, Martha Cinemas and other theater chains in the area. They expanded to four locations in the Carribean (two in Jamaica and two in Saint Croix (the latter is part of the US Virgin Islands)) in 1986.

In 1985, the chain switched their beverages from Coca-Cola products to Pepsi products.

In 1986, the original two-screen theater decided to incorporate a Quizno's Subs restaurant into its lobbies, which was so successful that all of the chain's theaters served Quizno's Subs in their lobbies by 1988. Also in April 1988, strong thunderstorms during the summer knocked down the screen at the drive-in theater near Troy (which didn't have a Quizno's Sub restaurant by that time), resulting in it's closure. Fortunately, it was not showing any films at the time. The drive-in was later demolished and a 10-screen indoor theater was built on the same site, it remains open today.
An eight-screen indoor theater opened in Canton, Michigan at the address of 51184 Michigan 153 (Ford Road) in 1991, later that year the Lansing theater was purchased by American Multi-Cinema, the drive-in theater in Grand Rapids was sold off and the original Ellsworth theater was closed and demolished. It was demolished by tornadoes in May 2006. A Chili's restaurant is now on the site.

On August 24, 1994, Movieland Theaters expanded to Kalamazoo, Michigan, with another 8-screen indoor theater, at 8332 West H Avenue. Four screens were added on in 1996 and another four in 2003. It also remains open today. In 1996, it purchased the unprofitable Dearborn Theater in Dearborn, Michigan from American Multi-Cinema, that summer it also constructed a 10-screen indoor theater in Royal Oak, Michigan.

On January 1, 1998, it purchased a parking lot behind the Northland Center Mall in Southfield, Michigan and demolished it to make room for a 20-screen indoor theater, which opened on November 18, 1998. That same year, the original Royal Oak theater burned down and was quickly rebuilt (though with 16 screens) using an architectural style similar to the Southfield theater and it remains open as of March 2012.

In 1999, Movieland Theaters received permission to build an indoor theater in Taylor, Michigan but was never built, which was good news for rival Planet Theaters, who had operated a 10-screen theater of their own in that city. That same year, however, it began another 20-screen indoor theater in Kentwood, which opened on August 23, 2000 and is located at 3195 28th Street. Then on June 25, 2004, it opened a 14-screen theater at the Universal Mall Shopping Center in 28582 Dequindre Road. A year later, 2005, it opened a 20-screen theater opened at Laurel Park Place in Detroit, Michigan, located within the address of 37716 Six Mile Road.

In 2008, journalists in Michigan reported that some theaters showing Tropic Thunder during it's opening week had cases of offended people walking out during the movie and protesting, particularly triggered by some offensive scenes in the movie, such as the letter "R" appearing many times. These reports caused the attention of local Paramount representatives who had threatened to halt their distribution agreement with Movieland Theaters. Bill Crosser refused to end the distribution deal and decided to put up a notice in the lobby of each theater warning people of the offensive scenes used in Tropic Thunder. This course of action proved very effective and Paramount Pictures decided to allow the chain to screen future releases. Other movies that were protested in local Movieland theaters were The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu (1980), Gremlins (1984), South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut (1996), Borat (2006), Ratatouille (2007), and Cloverfield (2008). Also in 2008, Movieland Theaters was forced to sell the Dearborn Theater due to financial problems. The now-independent Dearborn Theater soon stopped showing newer movies and charged $1 for all tickets, but it burned down on October 30, 2008, when some orange and yellow lights in that theater exploded, resulting in its closure. One day later, the city of Dearborn used seventy fireworks to celebrate Halloween and the end of the Dearborn Theater. An Arby's restaurant is now on the site. In August 2011, all Movieland Theaters had digital projectors added to all of their auditoriums, making Movieland Theaters one of few all-digital movie theater chains in America.

In November 2011, it opened a 16-screen theater in Farmingtonhills, Michigan. Soon, in January 2012, it opened another location at Wonderland Village in Livonia, Michigan. Their headquarters are currently located in Portage, Michigan.

Note: The chain did not use branded policy trailers until 1987.


1st (known) Opening
(1987-1989)
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