Every time I thumb through the stack of movie tickets stuffed in my wallet, my memories of visiting the theater are restated in vivid detail. I remember who I was with, which parts of the movie we laughed at, cried to and in some cases ripped to shreds on Letterboxd. The moviegoing experience is a spiritual one — whether you’re alone or with others, kicking back in a comfortable chair and watching a film on the big screen upgrades the enjoyment to a level that can’t be recreated at home. For Ann Arbor residents, there’s no better place for watching movies than the Michigan Theater.

Wikipedia describes The Michigan Theater as a “movie palace” — a title that I am not familiar with, but it makes sense. It really is palatial, from the marquee’s attractive multicolored glow to the cavernous barrel-vaulted ceilings inside the lobby. The main auditorium, an elegant hybrid of art deco and Romanesque design, makes every film louder, grander and more beautiful. Built in 1928, the theater is a tangible artifact of Ann Arbor history. By just stepping inside, you get a sense of how many generations of Ann Arborites, U-M students and loyal patrons have enjoyed the theater since its establishment.

What makes the Michigan Theater exceptional is its dedication to hosting independent films, local artists and exclusive events that are unparalleled in scope. It eliminates any and all barriers to involvement in the local art scene, a perk that is infinitely valuable.

Sometimes you’re in for a rowdy late-night singalong to “Cats,” other times you’re fulfilling childhood nostalgia by rewatching Studio Ghibli films and for Halloween you’re tuning into “Nosferatu,” the mother of all horror films, spookified by the historic Barton Organ’s eerie timbre. 

In addition to films, the Michigan Theater covers every corner in terms of entertainment. There is simply no other place that hosts a Joni Mitchell tribute concert, a screening of cult favorite “The Room” presented by Greg Sestero, a live shadow cast of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and Kelly Ripa on tour — all in the same auditorium. 

In every way, the Michigan Theater is a triumph in local entertainment — all because of the loyal paying supporters and devoted organizers that uphold its year-round operation as a non-profit. It’s especially reliable for building your own personal collection of movie tickets, too.

Digital Culture Beat Editor Laine Brotherton can be reached at laineb@umich.edu.