Allen Park theater, around since the 1940s, finally set for demolition, reports say

·2 min read
The closed Allen Park Theater on Jan. 21, 2022. The theater that showed $1 movies is being demolished.
The closed Allen Park Theater on Jan. 21, 2022. The theater that showed $1 movies is being demolished.

The fate of a 1940s Allen Park theater — which has been closed in recent years with local officials and preservationists debating what to do with it — may be decided.

Some had hoped that the structure, or at least part of it, could be saved.

But a report Friday in the News-Herald said the city-owned movie house at 6601 Allen Road that "that holds cherished memories for generations" for film lovers is expected to soon "face the wrecking ball."

Messages were left with Allen Park officials by the Free Press seeking confirmation of the impending demolition and additional information about the discussions about what to do with the property.

It would be an explosive conclusion to a place that showed films full of suspense and dramatic endings.

In many ways, the Allen Park theater, which opened in 1942 with a single screen, also reflects the struggle that many cinema operators are dealing with amid a pandemic, which left theaters sitting empty for months.

The closed Allen Park Theater on Jan. 21, 2022. The theater that showed $1 movies is being demolished.
The closed Allen Park Theater on Jan. 21, 2022. The theater that showed $1 movies is being demolished.

By one industry estimate, theater industry revenues in 2020 alone declined by more than 60%.

Allen Park Digital Cinemas, one of metro Detroit's last dollar movie theaters, closed in 2019. It had been showing second-run movies for $1 on weekends and $1.50 in the evenings.

But its owner at the time said it had been losing money.

The building was sold to the city, which it has hoped to repurpose it.

Last year, the Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak — which also had been around since the 1940s — also closed. It was known for showing indie and foreign titles and a local group of movie lovers had been trying to save it.

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Theaters have been around for more than 100 years.

But even before the pandemic, they were up against evolving technology that has allowed people to see a wide range of films — including new releases — on their big-screen TVs with all the comforts of home.

The closed Allen Park Theater on Jan. 21, 2022. The theater that showed $1 movies is being demolished.
The closed Allen Park Theater on Jan. 21, 2022. The theater that showed $1 movies is being demolished.

In the 1920s, theaters sought to attract more upscale audiences by adding more luxurious surroundings. In the '30s, drive-in theaters started to become popular, and by the '50s, they were a staple of American culture as the perfect place for a date.

Multiplexes opened in the 1960s as attachments to shopping malls, and grew into megaplexes, with more and more screens through the '90s.

But new technology that included home theaters and on-demand movies, forced the industry to rethink its business model.

And in Allen Park, where city officials have struggled with what to do with its empty theater, they may have finally come to a decision: Make way for something new to take its place.

Contact Frank Witsil: 313-222-5022 or fwitsil@freepress.com.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Allen Park theater set to be demolished soon