Movie maker Michael Moore has put out a cry for help and a half million dollars.
The folks who run the State Theatre in Traverse City are in desperate need of funds to keep the marquee lit and make repairs to the 1949 exterior of the structure.
Moore, a Flint, Michigan native and Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker has homes in Manhattan as well as on Torch Lake not far from Traverse City. In 2007 he instigated the renovation and reopening of the classic downtown movie house, which is owned and operated by the non-profit Traverse City Film Festival. (The annual summertime event was launched by Moore in 2005 and is set for July 31-August 5, 2012.)
The State was conceived as a “community-based, mission-driven art house movie theater” offering low cost and free events. Ticket prices are the same as they were on opening day five years ago, and you can see a kiddie or classic morning matinee for just 25 cents—what patrons paid when the theater opened in 1916.
According to a message from Moore that business plan has worked until this year.
Now the coffer is empty and the facade’s distinctive, red-tiled facade is crumbling. The organization’s board has launched a campaign to raise $500,000 to make physical repairs and to create a State Theatre Community Fund that will help support a long list of low-cost screenings and free activities, which Moore lists in his letter.
The fundraiser is called Another Hundred Years! and offers many ways to contribute on your own behalf or as a gift. Options range from a $40 theatre membership to a $1,000 donation in exchange for one of the red exterior panels. Got a spare $60,000? You could spend it on a new digital projector.
This is a gem of a theater that adds to the vibrancy of downtown Traverse City. It offers a mix of first-run, classic and art films in an historic setting and an experience you just can’t have at multiplex cinemas—Moore calls them cinemalls.
I agree with his slam against the $9 popcorn at “cinemalls” but in his plea for funding for Another Hundred Years he also criticizes the film distribution policies of the major movie studios, as well as local screening restrictions. Although these factors—even the $9 popcorn—may hamper the potential for success at the State Theatre they have undoubtedly contributed to Moore’s apparently profitable filmmaking biz.
He would hardly be in a position to do his good work from his Torch Lake manse without the cinemalls and their buckets of overpriced popcorn, steadily rising ticket prices and hundreds of screens showing flicks like Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story.”
The Another Hundred Years! campaign has raised $270,000 of its $500,000 goal and runs through the end of 2011.
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