State Theatre (Ann Arbor, Michigan)

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The State Theatre's distinctive marquee, with the names of upcoming Midnight Movie selections.

The State Theatre is an operational former movie palace located at the intersection of State Street and Liberty Street in Ann Arbor, MI.

The theater's central location and distinctive green, yellow and red marquee have made it an icon of Ann Arbor's downtown.


The theater was designed by architect C. Howard Crane, who had also designed the Fox Theatre (Detroit), and was built in 1942. The theater was owned and operated by the Butterfield Theater Company until the 1980s, when ownership was transferred to the George Kerasotes Corporation. In 1979, under GKC's ownership, the original theater design (a single screen with a main floor and balcony) was "quaded," with the balcony made into its own separate floor and the screen divided in half to produce four individual screening spaces.[1]

Ownership was transferred to local entrepreneur and Borders Group co-founder Tom Borders in 1987. Borders sold the two bottom screening rooms to the Urban Outfitters chain, who gutted the property and built a store in its place.[2]

Relics of the theater's history can also be seen in its carpeting (which still bears the GKC logo) and in remnants of the original architecture visible in the Urban Outfitters store.


The State Theatre is currently owned by a group of private investors, though booking and marketing is handled by the Michigan Theater, which is located just down the street. Both theaters show independent fare, with the State often continuing the runs of films that debuted at the Michigan.

The theater has promoted an 'indie' aesthetic by showcasing ultra-low-budget films in very limited release, such as Who Killed the Electric Car? and Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon.

35mm prints of independent successes and cult classics are often shown on Saturday nights as part of a regular Midnight Movies series. Films like Donnie Darko, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Big Lebowski (shown annually) are often featured.

The limited exhibition of the films shown at the State attracts audiences from all over the state of Michigan and city of Ann Arbor, though traditionally much of the theater's revenue comes from students and faculty at the neighboring University of Michigan.


  1. ^ Jeffrey Bloomer, "Why the State Theatre Matters," Michigan Daily, 5 February 2008.
  2. ^ Michigan Theater - About the State Theater

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Coordinates: 42°16′46″N 83°44′26″W / 42.2795°N 83.7405°W / 42.2795; -83.7405