In the midst of what has become the worst box-office slump since the emergence of home video in the ’80s, many filmgoers have turned away from the theatrical experience of the movies. But the opening of the new Briarwood Dollar Movies 4 last Friday aims to change that A– if only on the local scale. The new theater, located near Briarwood Mall lots 26-28 (in place of the former Madstone Theater), adds a fifth venue to Ann Arbor’s four existing theaters – but is the only one to offer second-run films for as low as 50 cents at select showings.Alan Teicher, owner of the new theater, said that the cost alone offers a strong incentive for theater patrons, particularly University students. “I hope that we get a lot of students because of our price. I’m sure a lot of students are on budgets and cannot afford $9.50 (per ticket),” Teicher said.He added that in the coming months, the theater will likely begin another program aimed directly at student audiences: midnight movies. “We’re thinking about, after football season, having midnight movies on maybe Friday night – Nowadays, I don’t know how much stuff there is to do after midnight on a Friday night. Kids don’t want to go to bed at the midnight hour.”Comparing his theater to the defunct Madstone, Teicher said the venue offers second-run features nearing the end of their theatrical run, which is unique to Ann Arbor. “What people don’t know (is that) – Ann Arbor is a very, very, very good movie town. The grosses that come out of this town are very strong. And we find from experience – if there’s a strong first-run base, then second-run theaters are very good. And it’s a beautiful mall, so how can you go wrong?” he said.Still, Teicher said, the former theater’s legacy also worked to his advantage.”This theater is so beautiful – because of Madstone. They put down tile floors; we have an overkill of bathrooms – I’ve been in business 50 years, (and) never have I seen a woman’s bathroom with 18 stalls.”For patrons who came to see movies during the theater’s debut weekend, the bargain price seemed to be the primary incentive.”It’s worth waiting to see the movie to keep the price down,” said Sue Bergum, a resident of nearby Pinckney. David of Ypsilanti agreed: “It’s a good, inexpensive Saturday night to get the kids out of the house. I don’t avoid (paying full price); I just don’t go out of my way to go to movies (at the major theaters).”Elizabeth, an Ann Arbor resident who came to the theater to see “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” said the new venue also offers a selection of movies that are no longer playing in other theaters.”This is the only place that’s showing it, and it’s not really expensive like all the other big theaters, like Quality 16,” she said. Still, Saline residents David and Anne Turrentine said the theater’s second-run features, not the price, is what most attracted them to the theaters.”(We’re here) because we’ve been loyal dollar movie fans for years. A lot of faces around here are the same from the people who worked at the Village Theater – We pay the normal prices, (then) come here and watch it a second time,” Anne said.As of the theater’s opening on Friday night, Teicher said the community response has far exceeded his expectations.”(The turnout) has been way better than I ever thought – To set a good theater up, it really takes three years. There are people who don’t read the papers, people who haven’t been to the show in years because they can’t afford it, so we have to get those people. (But) if this keeps building for three years, I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said.

Chelsea Trull
Patrons stand outside the brand-new Briarwood Dollar Movies 4, which opened Friday. (Eugene Robertson/Daily)

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