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The Clinton Theater

There is a little place I sometimes go. It is cheap and entertaining (Not many places can say that these days).

Do you know how in movies whenever they show a small town street scene from the 1950’s there is always a tiny movie theater? Unbelievably, some of them still exist.

Clinton Theater, Clinton, Michigan. Image owned by The Clinton Theater

The Clinton Theater is one of these theaters. Located in Clinton, Michigan, pop. 2,336, their movies were only $3 when my husband and I first went to a show there. The refreshment prices were incredibly reasonable as well. The theater only has one screen. They only have one showtime a day in the evening, sometimes two on Saturday and Sunday. My theory is that everyone who works there also has a day job and is therefore unavailable to show movies during the day. And that whoever works there are probably the same people who own it as well.

If the Clinton Theater is showing a popular movie, it is usually necessary to get there early, as seats are limited. The lobby is very small and is usually filled with the people in line for refreshments. The theater is small and cozy. They play an eclectic selection of interesting music (or maybe it is just really old music) while you wait for movie time. They store their extra bottles of pop in the front of the theater. They are very trusting of their customers. It adds to the small-town feel. I am not that trusting.

When the film (yes, 35mm film) begins to roll, first you see hand-drawn animation of…an alien maybe? (The official website informs me they are a bird and a fish.) who welcome you to The Clinton Theater. Then the previews. Watching the previews, you have no idea which films will play in this actual theater. Unlike the ten screen multiplex, this theater only has one screen, remember?

Which movie they show each week is based firstly on a website vote (how modern for such an old theater). Secondly, it is based on when they can get a physical copy of the film. Those are becoming harder and harder to come by, with all movie studios moving to release all their films in digital. This causes a delay for when The Clinton Theater can get a new hit movie. I assume that this process probably frustrates the hell out of the owners. I kind of like it because if I missed a movie when it was at the multiplex, (ex. Snow White and The Huntsman) I can watch for it to be showing in Clinton. Or if it was a movie I wanted to see again in theaters (ex. all Twilight Saga movies) without having to pay full price, I can go to Clinton.

They have since raised admission to $4 a movie, although they usually still have a $3 bargain night if you check their website. Which is a perfect price point if you see a movie advertised that you think you might want to rent, but you don’t want to have to wait that long (ex. Joyous Noise). They also sell refillable fountain cups and popcorn tubs that you can bring in on future visits and get a refill for a fraction of the price.

The Clinton Theater had a few fundraisers to raise money to buy a digital projector, as they knew the future of their business depended on it. I kept meaning to attend one of their fundraisers or send them a check. I figured I had plenty of time, as they would be collecting money for it for years to come.

Then last week they announced that they will be getting a digital projector, possibly as early as November. Well, dang. That was fast. I am guessing they must have received one huge donation to fill in the gaps in funding. I saw an article in Readers Digest where a small town won a contest run by the magazine to put in a digital projector for their own down-home movie house. They only won $25,000 toward their goal of the $70,000 needed to convert their theater.

Well, since I missed my chance to donate to The Clinton Theater, I guess I will just have to support local business and watch movies there more often. Nowadays, I have to go to the movies by myself, as my husband and I have a shortage of babysitters. I can’t wait until my son is old enough to sit through a movie with us. Maybe in a few years…

My parting thought: The Clinton Theater is awesome and cool! If you live close by, drive there for a movie sometime (additional parking in the back). If not, find the closest similar theater to you and enjoy the savings and fun. (The Maumee Indoor Theater is another great small theater I have been to.)

Image owned by The Clinton Theater

132 West Michigan Ave. (US-12)
Clinton, MI 49236

For Showtimes:
Call: 517-456-4315

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One response

  1. That place is owned by Frank Allison. He was pretty popular back in the late ’80s – early ’90s in Ann Arbor with his band, Frank Allison & the Odd Sox. He had to stop singing for a long time because of a disorder in his vocal chords. Check his music out – lots of fun!

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