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June 07, 2004 - Image 10

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2004-06-07

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, June 7, 2004





A2 mourns Madstone

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My two-year love affair with the
Madstone Theater at Briarwood Mall
has come to an end. Not long ago, an
overpriced United Artists theater
inhabited the Briarwood location. The
staff consisted of all my sister's
friends, working for some extra cash
to go shopping after work. The movie
selections were bleak, which may have
been one of the reasons they went out
of business.
In 2002, Madstone Theaters came to
occupy the mall's empty theater space.
Madstone offered a wide variety of
films ranging from foreign to classic to
independent, as well as new, big budg-
et movies. But last Tuesday, the
Briarwood Madstone closed for good.
Even Madstone's indie competition,
the Michigan Theater, was less than
thrilled to hear of the closing. Michigan
Theater Director and Chief Executive
Officer Russ Collins praised Madstone
for its screening variety. "Madstone
picked up films that didn't have distri-
bution, like foreign language films or
independents," he explained.
Madstone was unique as it was not
only a theater buta production compa-
ny as well: The firm distributed small
but exceptional works that were previ-
ously shown only at film festivals.
But Madstone wasn't just about
movies. If you wanted a little more
bang for your buck, you could go to
one of the theater's activity nights. (A
friend continuously dragged me to
Singles Night, which wasn't a likely
place to find your soul mate, but it's the
thought that counts.)
Madstone also offered free sneak
previews. When someone asked me if
they knew what the new release "Big
Fish" would be like, I could tell them,
"Been there, seen it." If movies weren't
your cup of tea, Madstone even had a
book club where film scripts and nov-
els-turned-movies could be read
amongst friends.
This theater, a hybrid of big-budget
chain and art house, social club and
movie hall, was good to me. Madstone
let me scarf down a jalapefio cheese-
stuffed soft pretzel during the pre-pre-

views, and when the cash register
wouldn't take credit cards, the staff
trusted me enough to pay them back
later. (I think I may still owe that nice
employee $3.50 for my juice.)
As another theater leaves Ann Arbor,
I worry what this will mean for the film
community. Karl Kasischke, now-for-
mer manager of Madstone, previously
worked at the Michigan Theater and
just might want his old job back.
Despite Madstone's cozy, independ-
ent theater feel, it's still a major compa-
ny. Kasischke explained that
Madstone's closing wasn't unique to
Briarwood: Because of recent corpo-
rate restructuring, three other U.S.
Madstones closed. He suggested that
the reason for the cutbacks was that
"the whole movie industry isn't doing
well this year." Hard to believe, con-
sidering Hollywood has offered us such
cinematic gems as "Soul Plane" and
"You Got Served." It's sad that the film
industry is so profit-driven that show-
ing art and foreign films can be a lia-
bility for theaters. To survive, art house
establishments must receive funding
and community support, which have
kept the Michigan Theater afloat.
Madstone's closing hurts the Ann
Arbor community as well as its
employees: The theater sponsored
the University's Film and Video
department's end-of-term screening
last semester and contributed over
$100 worth of prizes.
And what about Ann Arbor citi-
zens who had memberships to
Madstone? Kasischke said that man-
agement is trying to work out a deal
with other local organizations to
offer members-alternatives. But even
if alternatives are found, they will
likely be unable to offer the eclectic
atmosphere of Madstone. Kasischke
said that most of all, he'd miss the
access to free movies - and, of
course, his co-workers. He empha-
sized that at Madstone, "It wasn't
just a job. The people who worked
there loved movies." I think most of
all I'll miss the pretzels - it looks
like it's back to stale popcorn for me.





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