Ann Arbor's non-profit center for fine film and the performing arts

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About Our Auditorium and Screening Room

The Historic Auditorium

Seats: 1700
Seating Diagrams of the Theater
Sound: CP500 Dolby Digital Surround sound system with 6 channels.
Screen: 35′ x 19′
Organ: 1927 Barton Theater Pipe Organ

Constructed during the silent film era when films were shown with live musical accompaniment, the Historic Auditorium is known, acoustically speaking, as a “live” house. The acoustics are perfect for classical music, one of the reasons we’ve been home to the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra since 1984. Additionally, guest performers love being on our stage because of its excellent natural sound.

The Historic Theater is also equipped with a state-of-the-art movie sound system, the same system used in the Screening Room. However, since the spaces themselves are very different, films will sound different. Additionally, some soundtracks are not as clear as others. This may be because of a poor quality soundtrack on the print, or it may be an artistic choice by the director. (For instance, the films of Robert Altman tend to have “muddy” sound.)

Viewing a film in the Historic Theater is an event in itself. Real gold leaf, real butter on the popcorn – in short, this is a movie palace that is simply not like any other theater.

The Screening Room

Seats: 200
Sound: CP500 Dolby Digital Surround sound system with 6 channels.
Screen: 28′ x 16′
Organ: fully restored vintage Hammond C2 electric organ with two Leslie 122A tonecabinets

At the north end of the grand foyer, walk through the double doors. You’ll enter the Ford Gallery of Ann Arbor Founders and proceed to the Screening Room lobby and entrance. Located on land off of Washington Street, the Screening Room was added in 1999 along with new restrooms and office space.

The Screening Room allows the Michigan to provide a diverse program of quality specialty film, a vital part of our mission. Equipped with a state-of-the-art sound system, this smaller theater reserved just for movies allows us to expand our programming and offer even more of the contemporary foreign, independent American, and documentary films for which we are known. The Screening Room also allows us to fulfill certain distributor stipulations that might otherwise bar us from showing certain films; for instance, when a film requires a run uninterrupted by evenings reserved for live events, or when part of the agreement is to show a film as many times as possible. Popular films can also extend their runs thanks to this theater.

Before your movie starts, look up. You’ll see representations of area movie theaters that no longer exist. Whichever space you’re in, you’ll be surrounded by a love and fascination for the art of moviegoing.