When Maple Theater owner Jon Goldstein announced in July that he was closing the Bloomfield Township movie house for three months to launch a $1.5-million renovation, some patrons, especially older ones, were skeptical.
“They said, ‘Don’t mess with our Maple,’ ” Goldstein recalls. “They liked it the way it was.”
Goldstein hopes that longtime Maple fans will join new, and possibly younger, cinephiles when the three-screen theater reopens Friday with a considerably more upscale look. The opening films will be “The Sessions,” the Sundance Film Festival audience hit that’s getting Oscar buzz (showing on two screens), and “The Other Son,” a drama from French filmmaker Lorraine Levy that puts a human face on the discord between Israelis and Palestinians.
The Maple will present “mainstream, art, independent and foreign films that appeal to people like me,” says Goldstein, a Bloomfield Hills resident who calls himself a film junkie. Prospective patrons, he says, are as varied as the titles he hopes to book through the holidays, including “Lincoln,” “The Hobbit,” “Anna Karenina” and “Django Unchained.”
Goldstein says that special film programs and amenities like a bar serving liquor, beer and wine, a coffee shop, locally catered food, valet parking on weekends and a waitstaff will help set the Maple apart from Royal Oak’s Main Art Theatre and the Uptown Birmingham 8, which show similar fare.
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“We want to attract people that love movies and appreciate a quality moviegoing experience,” he says. “These are people that still want to watch a movie in a communal setting, but don’t want to feel like a number. We are trying to take the corner pub atmosphere, where everyone feels comfortable, and put it in a movie theater.”