Posted by: Kath Usitalo | November 15, 2011

Help Michael Moore Save The State Theatre

The State Theatre in downtown Traverse City needs money

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.

A mural inside the State Theatre

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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  1. Wow. So now a liberal isn’t suppose to make any money?

    I don’t think Mr.Moore makes a dime from his films on any popcorn sold in a cineplex, because the cineplex doesn’t make any money from running his films. People come see his films because they enjoy his message. Popcorn and soda sell themselves. An irony lost on you.

    And if you knew about distribution you would know he can’t run any first run features at the State unless they are declined by the local cineplex. Is that free enterprise?

    Last time I visited TC I didn’t see any righty-tighties running to save any movie theater. Downtown TC was in decline before Mr. Moore took over the theater. And I bet the neighbors enjoy the fact that the State boosted shopping. At night I might add, much to their amazement. That is more than I saw at the TC cineplex where it is housed in a run down outlet mall.

    • Wow back at ya.
      Please tell me where I mentioned Mr. Moore’s political standing or money making rights or abilities.

      He certainly has earned his rewards. That is the beauty of the very system he knocks.
      An irony lost on you.

      I certainly do understand that movie houses or cinemalls must make money on the concessions; ticket prices alone don’t cut it.
      Moore’s films would not have the broad audiences (and resulting profits to him) if they were not shown to the popcorn-eaters in the megaplexes across the land.
      An irony lost on you.

      I don’t understand your hostility.

      I stated that the State is a gem worth saving.
      I commented on its positive impact on downtown TC.

      I don’t like cinemalls; they give me the creeps.

      I get it that there are distribution rules that oppress indy theaters.

      Moore wants it both ways. He wants to run the State according to his rules
      AND he wants the cinemalls and the movie industry to operate in a way that he deems fair and, presumably, allows him to continue to be a smashingly successful filmmaker so that he can afford to pursue his pet projects.
      An irony lost on you.

      Thank you for checking in at Great Lakes Gazette.

  2. You just don’t get it do you? Maybe you should try watching the movie.

    And you didn’t even bother trying to answer my Free Enterprise comment. Do a little research and then crow about capitalism.

    Anyhow “more” of Mr. Moore’s capitalist rants:


    My book tour finally comes home to Traverse City next Monday night, November 28th — and it’s a fundraiser for the State Theatre!

    I will speak and read from my new book, “Here Comes Trouble,” at 7 pm at the State Theatre. Admission is just $5 and tickets are now on sale online, at the State Theatre box office, or by calling 231-947-3446. 100 percent of the gross will go to the State Theatre, as will $5 of every book sold Monday night.

    Back in September, I launched a nationwide fundraiser for the State Theatre with my new book. I announced that anyone who bought my book from one of three local northern Michigan bookstores — Brilliant Books of Suttons Bay & TC, McLean & Eakin Booksellers of Petoskey and Saturn Books of Gaylord — would receive an autographed first edition, and the bookstore they purchased it from would donate $5 per book to the State Theatre. I asked my fans across the country to not only support my favorite indie bookstores, but also to support my project here, the State Theatre.

    The response has been overwhelming. Thousands of books have been sold and thousands of dollars have been raised for the State. And more first edition signed copies of “Here Comes Trouble” will be available next Monday night at the event.

    So come on down to the State on November 28th and see me! I’ve got lots to share from my travels around the country (we are living in interesting and exciting times!) and I can’t wait to read some of these stories (nearly all set in Michigan) to you.

    It will be good to be home.

    Michael Moore

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