Royal Oak movie theater will defy state order to reopen for Juneteenth film series

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Daddy Glantz is going full rebel for a good cause.

Royal Oak's Emagine theatre will reopen on Friday, June 19 — despite not being able to legally do so under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's statewide reopening plan — for a weeklong festival highlighting Black cinema and films that present “compelling moral stories” about race in America and Black history in honor of Juneteenth.



The festival, which will screen a dozen films including The Defiant Ones, If Beale Street Could Talk, Do The Right Thing, The Color Purple, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?, and American History X, will donate 100% of its ticket sales to the United Negro College Fund.

Though Whitmer gave the green light for drive-in theaters to resume operations when she lifted the state's stay-at-home order and implemented looser restrictions on outdoor gatherings on June 1, the executive order prohibiting indoor movie theaters and entertainment venues is still in effect.



Last month, Dearborn's Ford-Wyoming Drive-in attempted to reopen before Whitmer gave the go-ahead and was hit with a cease-and-desist the night of its reopening.

“This is born out of a desire and belief that the time is right to help our African-American brothers and sisters," Emagine Entertainment chairman Paul Glantz told The Detroit Free Press. Glantz also says the decision to reopen for the festival is not a political one. He simply wanted to host an event “designed to do good.”

Royal Oak mayor Michael Fournier has also given the festival his blessing, according to a press release.

“Now is the time to listen, learn, and educate ourselves as well as empower the black community,” Fournier said. “We are so appreciative to have Emagine as a partner in this community spearheading positivity and education through this film festival.”

However, in a follow-up email, Fournier tells Metro Times: "While I like the event and support the idea, I told Mr. Glantz he would need to comply with all laws, regulations, and orders. I did not give my endorsement to go ahead in violation of law."

Emagine Entertainment assures that the Royal Oak location has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected with CDC-approved products. The theater will adhere to the protocols outlined in a 27-page plan, penned almost exclusively by Glantz, which will help Michigan's movie theaters reopen safely when they are able to do so.

Guests are asked to purchase tickets in advance and are asked to not enter the theater if they've experienced any COVID-19-like symptoms. Social distancing will be enforced via signage and guests are required to wear masks when in the lobby or restrooms or, if you don't have a mask, the theater will provide one upon request.

There will be some changes in terms of the auditorium seating, too, which will see reduced capacities to allow for successful social distancing guidelines and staircases will have been designated for one-way traffic to reduce potential contact. Screen times will also be extended to allow ample time for employees (who are required to wear masks and gloves and partake in daily health screening forms) to disinfect common touch points, like railings and doors, as well as seating.

Tickets per-film are $10 and can be purchased via emagine-entertainment.com/juneteenthfilmfestival.

Updated: 9:15 a.m., Wednesday, June 17: This post was updated with additional comments from Mayor Fournier.

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