At the end of the month, Cinema Detroit, a theater screening films in the former Burton International Academy, will be moving several blocks north and west to a new home on Third Street.
The small theater opened in October 2013, a labor of love by husband-and-wife team Tim and Paula Guthat, both lifelong Detroiters. They rented the space on Cass Avenue from Joel Landy. Previously, Landy had rented it out to a group that operated it as a small moviehouse called the Burton Theatre for several years.
At the end of September, the Guthats will move Cinema Detroit over to the Furniture Factory, a refurbished building that dates to 1923, when it was the Weber Furniture Company’s showroom. In 2000, the building was refurbished as a handsome space for an Ann Arbor performance group. The group moved on, but the space remains. Paula estimates that the space, which is owned by local landlord and developer Akbar Noorbakhsh, hasn’t hosted an event in the last three years.
Paula is the CEO programmer, and booker for Cinema Detroit, and her selection of movies features a lot of eclectic first-run films, especially more mainstream art house fare that’s backed by major studios, from such directors as Woody Allen, Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach, and Nicole Holofcener, as well as indie features from smaller distributors, new restorations, and even some genre films. Guthat says, “Many times we’re the only theater with a film on screen in the metro area, sometimes in all of Michigan or the Midwest.”
With the closing of the theaters at the Renaissance Center this summer, Cinema Detroit is now the only first-run theater in the vicinity of downtown Detroit.
Paula says, “We just love film, and we think Detroit should have a world-class film culture, and there was a gap. There was nowhere in this city to see new these cool movies in magazines and online. We’d try to find where they were playing here, and they wouldn’t be — but Cleveland would have them! So we just thought there’s got to be people who are interested in this and in first-run art movies, and it turned out to be true.”
The films the Guthats screen are 90 percent digital, but when they do get a print, they have a 35 mm projector. The new space has a sound booth that Paula says is perfect for a projectionist’s booth.
Cinema Detroit will continue to screen films at the Cass Avenue location until Sept. 30, and is scheduled to open Oct. 1 at the new location at 4126 Third Avenue, Detroit. See cinemadetroit.com for more information.