Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak temporarily closing its doors

Landmark-owned three-screen theater plans to reopen 'when it is viable'

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

The Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak, an arthouse staple in Metro Detroit for decades, is temporarily shutting its doors. 

After its final showings on Thursday — a 7:10 p.m. screening of the Oscar-nominated "Minari" and a 7:20 p.m. showing of the offbeat Michelle Pfeiffer comedy "French Exit" — the theater will cease operations for the time being.

Royal Oak's Main Art Theatre is seen in a 2005 archive photo.

"It really just comes down to finances and attendance," Margot Gerber, VP of marketing and publicity for Landmark Theatres, which operates the Main Art, said Thursday. "The decision has been made to try and keep theaters closed that aren’t covering their expenses. As far as when it will reopen, I’m not exactly sure." 

The three-screen complex, located at the corner of 11 Mile and Main Street in Royal Oak and known for its iconic marquee, has been in operation for 80 years, since first swinging open its doors in 1941. It specializes in art films and independent fare. 

Across the Landmark chain, which operates theaters in 16 states and Washington, D.C., less than half of its theaters are open. "The business isn't there yet," Gerber says. 

Cinemas nationwide have struggled with business since COVID-19 forced many theaters to close their doors for the majority of 2020. Blockbuster films have sat on the sidelines while other films have trickled out on streaming platforms, and theaters have faced stifling losses. 

After being closed for much of the year, the Main Art opened on Christmas Day and has been showing films such as "The White Tiger," "One Night in Miami..." and other awards season films. 

Gerber says Landmark, which operates the Main on a lease agreement, will be watching the business and is eager to reopen the Royal Oak theater. "Especially with historic theaters, we don't want to leave them unattended for too long," she says. 

During its closure, the Main Art is continuing to offer "Minari" as a virtual title in partnership with distributor A24's online Screening Room platform. Tickets can be purchased here