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United Artists Theatre


Address: 140 Bagley St
City: Detroit State: MI Zip: Phone:  
County: Wayne
Notes: AKA: Downtown
View on Google Maps  
Open: 1928 Closed: 1971 Capacity: 2012  
Owner: United Artists
Number of visits to this page since Sept 2013: 13888
 
 

3/13/2015 - Diana
Anyone still around that worked at The United Artists? What did you do and what Year?.
2/27/2011 - Duane Lamers
The United Artists Theater showed How to Marry a Millionaire on a first-run basis, but this was not the first film in the CinemaScope process shown in Detroit. The Fox Theater nearby premiered The Robe in the fall of 1953 before the release of Millionaire. Incidentally, Millionaire was the first film completed in the new widescreen, anamorphic process, but Twentieth Century Fox released The Robe first. My birthday wish that year was to see The Robe at the Fox. For a couple years or so I kept a log of all the films I went to see in what then was a never-ending promotion of new widescreen processes.

8/12/2008 - Gistok
In 2007 in anticipation of a move downtown by Quicken Financial Corp. , United Artists Building/Theatre owner Mike Ilitch had J. C. Beal construction company do an evaluation on the potential redevelopment of the United Artists for a possible inclusion/redevelopmnent in the Quicken HQ complex. The results of that evaluation are not known, but a new roof has been put onto both the office block and theatre, thus stopping further deterioration.

And the building has now been well secured from scrappers. From the webmaster:That is great news!.
1/15/2004 - Cinema Treasures
The United Artists in Detroit was the third designed by C. Howard Crane, built in 1928, after the Los Angeles and Chicago houses. All three were designed in the Spanish-Gothic style, and were very similar in many respects, but the Detroit UA also had some major differences. First off, a thirteen story office tower was built on top of the theater, to allay initial fears that it could be a white elephant. Crane was faced with an irregular-shaped lot, but made the best of it, giving the UA a round lobby, with a domed ceiling, gilded Art-Deco inspired Indian princesses on the walls, between wall-length mirrors.

A marble staircase led up to the mezzanine and balcony levels. The 2070-seat auditorium, which was said to be nearly accoustically perfect, was fantastically decorated, with Gothic plasterwork, more gilding, metal-work, and brass light fixtures like something out of a Medieval cathedral. The Detroit UA was definitely more dramatic and breath-taking than either of the United Artist theaters Crane had previously done. Opening night featured the Gloria Swanson hit 'Sadie Thompson', with the star herself on a phone hook-up addressing the full house and opening the curtains for the first time.

Originally, the theater also had an in-house orchestra and the occassional stage show, but was really one of the city's first major houses designed primarily for films. It also once featured reserved seating, such as when it hosted the Detroit premiere of 'Gone With the Wind' in 1939. For several years in the 40s, it was acquired by United Detroit Theaters, but in 1950 was again run by United Artists. It became the first Detroit theater to feature Cinemascope (with 1953's 'How to Marry a Millionaire') and also the first to get 70mm, three years later, with 'Oklahoma!'.

A major remodeling took place in the early 60s, which removed the 10-story vertical marquee, and replaced it with the current, unattractive one. Also, the stately facade, with its arches and terra-cotta work, was lost under a covering of dark, featureless marble up to the office tower. Its lobby also received a similar facelift, covering up much of its spectacular decor and its dome was covered by a dropped ceiling. However, the UA did have something of a revival during the early 60s, having long runs of such blockbusters as 'The Sound of Music' and 'Tora, Tora, Tora'.

This turned out to be a short-lived revival, and by the end of the decade, the United Artists was screening adult fare. It closed in 1971. In 1972, it was renamed and reopened as the Downtown, but closed in 1974, for good this time. A year later, its furnishings and remaining artwork were auctioned off, and in the mid-to-late 70s was used by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for recording.

By the mid-80s even the United Artists Tower had closed, its tenants having moved to the suburbs. Since then, there have been plans to restore the United Artists as a nightclub or movie theaters, but everytime these plans have fallen through. In the meantime, the theater has unfortunately fallen into serious disrepair, its once stunning decor all but gone, and its exterior literally crumbling away (cars parked in front of the building were damaged in 1989 when some brickwork collapsed on the upper stories and fell to the ground). In the late 90s, the theater was stripped of anything remotely salvagable, and today continues to sit vacant and in a state of near ruin.

Cinema Treasures Link.
1/10/2004 - Box Office Magazine
April 1959 Issue - Victor Carlson of the United Artists Theatre reported that the Lenten season was better than normal, attributing the increase of the exceptionally strong draw of Sleeping Beauty and the Grand Canyon in the new Technirama 70 process.
12/19/2003 - Box Office Magazine
February 1959 - Horstman and Co. get the job to remove the old vertical marquee at the United Artists Theatre.
United Artists Theatre - OLD PHOTO FROM DETROIT YES
OLD PHOTO FROM DETROIT YES
United Artists Theatre - OLD PHOTO
OLD PHOTO
United Artists Theatre - OLD MARQUEE
OLD MARQUEE
United Artists Theatre - RECENT INDOOR PIC
RECENT INDOOR PIC
United Artists Theatre - 2ND MARQUEE
2ND MARQUEE
United Artists Theatre - UA DETROIT-CRANE OFFICE DRAWING FROM JOHN LAUTER
UA DETROIT-CRANE OFFICE DRAWING FROM JOHN LAUTER
United Artists Theatre - UA DETROIT BALCONY FLOOR PLAN FROM JOHN LAUTER
UA DETROIT BALCONY FLOOR PLAN FROM JOHN LAUTER
United Artists Theatre - RECENT INDOOR SHOT
RECENT INDOOR SHOT
United Artists Theatre - RECENT INDOOR SHOT
RECENT INDOOR SHOT
United Artists Theatre - RECENT INDOOR SHOT
RECENT INDOOR SHOT
United Artists Theatre - RECENT INDOOR SHOT
RECENT INDOOR SHOT
United Artists Theatre - RECENT INDOOR SHOT
RECENT INDOOR SHOT
United Artists Theatre - RECENT INDOOR SHOT
RECENT INDOOR SHOT
United Artists Theatre - RECENT INDOOR SHOT
RECENT INDOOR SHOT
United Artists Theatre - RECENT MARQUEE SHOT
RECENT MARQUEE SHOT
United Artists Theatre - RECENT MARQUEE SHOT
RECENT MARQUEE SHOT
United Artists Theatre - EXTERIOR DETAILS
EXTERIOR DETAILS
United Artists Theatre - FROM ROBERT MORROW
FROM ROBERT MORROW
United Artists Theatre - FROM ROBERT MORROW
FROM ROBERT MORROW
United Artists Theatre - FROM ROBERT MORROW
FROM ROBERT MORROW
United Artists Theatre - OLD PHOTO
OLD PHOTO
United Artists Theatre - FROM ROBERT MORROW
FROM ROBERT MORROW
United Artists Theatre - FROM ROBERT MORROW
FROM ROBERT MORROW
United Artists Theatre - OLD AD
OLD AD

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