Royal Oak community comes together to save historic Main Art Theatre

Movie theater has been local staple for 80 years

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – The Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak has eight decades worth of history.

Of those 80 years, the theater has been in the heart of Jason Kryzsiak for 30. It even factored into his and his wife’s decision years ago when they decided to move.

“One of the reasons we picked the house we did was it was within walking distance of the main art theater,” Kryzsiak said. “So, the theater has been a part of our lives for years.”

The theater shut down during the pandemic, as many others did -- but it didn’t follow suit when many theaters decided to reopen.

Around the time it was announced that the theater was closing for good, 50 or so lovers of the establishment gathered to honor the venue and its history.

“We realized that we had such a group together, just under the marquee,” Kruzsiak said. “There was about 50 of us that evening, and we decided that we had to do something about it.”

The newfound friends met with the theater owners to discuss letting them run it as a community theater, but Kryzsiak says they opted to continue with the plan to raise it and put up a mixed-use development.

“This community will come out and support independent cinema at this location,” Kryzsiak said. “Our hope is that through negotiations with the property owner that we can find a solution that keeps films alive at the Main Art Theatre. Our membership is growing. Our membership is determined, and we’re going to do what we can to save this theater.”

The membership group is not done yet. They are trying to convince the owners that it is in their best interest to hold off on demolishing the theater. The group believes they can make it work by bringing in revenue by utilizing the historic venue as a community theatre.

At 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 9, the group will hold a “Save the Main” rally in front of the theatre.

The Royal Oak Planning Commission is holding a meeting at 7 p.m. on April 12, where the group will make their case to developers and city officials. The group believes that, as a community, they can achieve the common goal and that the building doesn’t have to be demolished.

About the Authors:

Jason is Local 4’s utility infielder. In addition to anchoring the morning newscast, he often reports on a variety of stories from the tragic, like the shootings at Michigan State, to the off-beat, like great gas station food.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.