Martha Cinemas (Michigan, USA)

Background:Martha Cinemas was founded in 1970 by former Texas A&M softball player and Paramount Pictures booker Martha Monroe (not Marilyn Monroe), which showed second-run films exclusively until 1976. The chain began in the city ofRoyal Oak, Michigan, United States in the present-day Main Art Theater at 118 North Main Street and expanded to two drive-in theaters in Monroe (6231 North Monroe Street) and Adrian (3240 North Adrian Highway) later that year.
In 1977, the original Royal Oak theater was flocked with patrons walking in to see Star Wars in its opening weekend.
In 1985, the chain switched their beverages from Coca-Cola to Pepsi products. In the same year, they expanded to 6 second-run theaters throughout Michigan, with new locations in WaterfordTownship (1565 Crescent Lake Road); Livonia (inside the Livonia Mall at29584 West 7 Mile Road) and Ann Arbor (375 South Maple Road).
In 1987, it expanded to a five-screen second-run theater in Brighton, Michigan at 8487 West Grand River Avenue and closed the drive-in theater in Monroe, later that year the original Royal Oak theater decided to incorporate a Subway restaurant into it's lobby, which was so successful that all of the chain's theaters served Subway in their lobbies by 1989. Also in 1989, strong thunderstorms during the summer knocked down the screen at the drive-in theater in Adrian(which didn't have a Subway restaurant by that time), resulting in it's closure, also four more screens were added at the Brighton theater. Fortunately, it was not showing any films at the time. The drive-in was later demolished and a 10-screen indoor multiplex theater (which was the first first-run theater in the chain) was built on the same site and opened on September 22, 1990, it remains open today at3150 North Adrian Highway. The first-run theater proved so popular Martha Cinemas shifted it's focus onto first-run films for new theaters. At the same time, the chain started a plan to purchase the five-screen Allen Park Cinema in Allen Park, Michigan from American Multi-Cinema, the purchase occurred in late 1992. Today the Allen Park Cinema is the only second-run theater still legally owned by the chain.
On November 3, 1995, Martha Cinemas expanded to Chesterfield Township, Michigan, with an eight-screen first-run indoormultiplex theater, at 50675 Gratiot Avenue, near 23 Mile. Four screens were added on in 1997 and another four in 2005 (making it a megaplex with 16 screens), in 2005 the theater's exterior was also updated to the currentarchitectural style. On September 6, 1996,a 10-screen first-run indoormultiplextheater in WaterfordTownship opened at 7501 Highland Road, at the same time the nearby second-screen theater closed. Six screens were added on there in 1998, making it a megaplex with 16 screens. Both remain open as of March 2012.
The first-run indoor theater building trend continued, as in October1997, Martha Cinemas purchased aseverelydilapidatedparking lot behind the Southgate Shopping Center in Southgate, Michigan and demolished it to make room for a 20-screen first-run indoor megaplex theater, which opened on November 6, 1998 and is located at 15651 Trenton Road, near Eureka, using an architectural style similar to the WaterfordTownship theater.It remains open as of March 2012.
In 2000, construction began on another 20-screen first-run indoor megaplex theater in Brighton, Michigan, which opened on June 15, 2001 and is located near I-96 and Grand River Avenue at 8200 Murphy Drive and debuted Martha's current exterior architectural style. The older second-run theater nearby was shuttered at the same time. A Best Buy store is now on the site of the second-run theater while the first-run theater remains open as of March 2012. On March 3, 2002, Martha Cinemas sold the Ann Arbor theater due to financial problems. The now-independent Ann Arbor theater soon stopped showing newer movies and payed its customers extra tax. It is still open today under the ownership of South Land Properties and plays movies ranging from 1955 to 2000.
On August 26, 2005, Martha Cinemas opened a 20-screen first-runmegaplextheater in Sterling Heights, Michigan at 35400 Michigan 53, near 15 Mile. Then in 2007it opened a 14-screen first-runmegaplextheater at the new Mall at Partridge Creek at 17400 Hall Road in Clinton Township, Michigan and was the first in the chain to use digital projection on all screens and also the first with 3D screens in some auditoriums. The digital projection and 3D screen concepts were both very successful, so Martha Cinemas decided to install digital projection in all auditoriums in their older locations and also add 3D screens to some auditoriums at their older locations. Both remain open as of March 2012. Also in 2007, the Livonia Mall theater (which didn't have digital projection nor 3D screens by that time) closed. Today, when Martha Cinemashas a 3D movie, it offers the same in 2D in a different theater in the same facility.
In 2008, journalists in Michigan reported that some theaters showing Tropic Thunderduring it's opening week had cases of offended people walking out during the movie and protesting, particularly triggered by some offensive words in the movie, including the "R" word. These reports caused the attention of local Paramount Pictures representatives who had threatened to halt their distribution agreement with Martha Cinemas. Martha Monroe (who ironically enough worked for Paramount Pictures before founding the chain) refused to end the distribution deal and decided to put up a notice in the lobby of each theater warning people of the explicit content used in Tropic Thunder. This course of action proved very effective and Paramount Pictures decided to allow the chain to screen future releases. Other movies that were protested in local Martha Cinemas were The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu (1980), South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut (1996), Borat (2006), Ratatouille (2007), and Cloverfield (2008). On November 4, 2011, it opened a 16-screen first-runmegaplex theater in Westland, Michigan at6800 North Wayne Road, just south of Warren Avenue. Their headquarters are currently located in Oak Park, Michigan, at 13691 West 11 Mile Road. Today, Martha Cinemas operates eight first-run and one second-run theater throughout southeastern Michigan,totaling132 screens (137 if Allen Park is counted), all with digital projection and some with 3D capabilities. Martha Monroe is still CEO of the chain.
Note: The chain did not use branded policy trailers until 1990.
1st Opening
(1990-1992)
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