The theater business is hell these days, what with the DVD craze eating ticket sales. Last year was the most profitable year for Hollywood but saw the lowest theater attendance ever. The art-film haven at the DIA’s Detroit Film Theatre has suffered less than most, due to healthy ticket sales for art-house releases, but suffered nonetheless. So this year, to stay competitive, the theater has enacted changes. And you, art-film lover, will notice. For one thing, ticket prices are up a dollar (to $7.50 for general admission), but with your ticket you get a voucher for future use in the theater’s parking lot. Films this year seem to lean on the artistic-yet-enjoyable (read: non-depressing) side, but DFT curator Elliot Wilhelm says they were the best of the best. Other changes on the horizon: Extra good films will enjoy longer runs, bucking DFT’s tradition, and films may show during the week. The 7 p.m. Sunday feature has been slashed but a new 2 p.m. matinee will feature animated films suitable for children, such as the March 20 screening of A Tree of Palme (Japan), while films geared toward the senior set have been added as well. You’ll definitely notice that after 30 years, the DFT has a new schedule: pocket-size and replete with color photos.
To help make it all happen, the DFT secured a corporate sponsor in Bank One. That’s good news for film fans. What’s more, for the first time, and at long last, the theater is joining forces with the Detroit Film Center to show a compilation in May of local short independent films. DFC founder and CCS animation and digital media professor Bob Andersen will select the films.
It’s all an attempt to keep DFT alive and well in an ever-gray financial climate. “We’re going to buck the trend,” co-curator Larry Baranski says.Send comments to [email protected]