Just ten days ago the Jack Loeks Theatre chain announced that Studio 28 was closing. Studio 28, especially its huge Theatre 1, has long been our favorite Grand Rapids area movie theatre. So it's closing today, Sunday 23 November 2008, will be felt personally. Where are we going to see the big splashy blockbusters? Where are we going to go for midnight showings of "special movies"?
A Big Deal
When we first moved down to West Michigan we were astonished to find that Studio 28, the "28" stood for west 28th Street in the suburb of Wyoming MI, was the largest multiplex in America. Twenty screens and something like 6000 seats. Amazingly, it kept that record for seven years.
Studio 28 opened on Christmas Day, 1965, with one screen, then expanded to two screens. In 1976, it expanded to six screens, then, in 1984, it doubled to 12. By 1988, it had 20 screens, making it the United States' largest megaplex until 1995.
They renovated the big Theatre #1 some years ago, reopening it just in time for a reserved seat premiere of Jurassic Park. An impressive Dolby sound system roared into life, though for me the most amazing sound was the skin crawling s-c-r-i-t-c-h of the overturned Jeep scraping on the concrete barrier before being dumped down the hill into the trees.
We haven't seen so many movies this year. The economy? Nope. Lack of good movies? Well, a little bit. But there were a bunch of movies we hoped to see, but didn't. My schedule, Mrs. Dr. Phil's grad classes, etc. Hell, we haven't had a chance to see the new James Bond flick -- we plan on seeing it on Thanksgiving. We wanted to see it at Studio 28. But they closed before Thanksgiving, to give those staff who didn't want to go to another theatre in the chain a chance to get jobs for the Christmas season. Studio 28 management was always good to its staff. Even in the end, they were putting staff ahead of profits and schedules.
Jack Loeks Theatres built new complexes by the new Meijer's on East Beltline in the northeast and the new growth area at the M-6 South Beltline freeway and Kalamazoo Avenue. The northern one included an IMAX theatre. A competitor built new 'plexes at Rivertown Crossing and Woodland Mall. Rivertown was too close to Studio 28. The competitor went bust and Jack Loeks bought up the places.
Scheduling and movie selection meant we couldn't always make it to Studio 28, but Celebration North or Rivertown. But we still did manage to get to Studio 28 this year. (grin)
But no more.