United Artists Theatre

150 Bagley Street,
Detroit, MI 48226

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Showing 51 - 73 of 73 comments

RobertR on June 26, 2005 at 3:36 pm

How sad those pictures are. It does not seem like there is anything to restore even if a proposal came along.

dghmac on June 26, 2005 at 2:19 pm

I am greatly saddened in reading about the current condition of the once magnificent United Artists Theatre in downtown Detroit. I spent hours and hours in my youth there enjoying many 70MM roadshow presentations with family and friends.
Each performance was breathtaking as the house lights would dim while the overture would play and finally, what seemed like miles of gold curtains would open wider and wider always giving a perfect presentation complete with intermission and exit music as we would leave the theatre. No previews of coming attractions, no commericals, just an entire evening (or matinee) of wonderful family entertainment in one of the finest movie palaces ever built. I live in Los Angeles now but some of my most precious memories are of that magnificant movie palace in the great city of Detroit. I only wish I had interior photos as I never did take any….they are all still in my head……but I can still see what a treature the United Artists was and will always be to me.
Douglas Hupp – Los Angeles

sdoerr on April 25, 2005 at 2:57 pm

I now have my pictures of the interior of the UA located here

sdoerr on April 17, 2005 at 2:10 pm

I finally got in to explore the United Artists yesterday,
the auditorium is in a state of ruin. Sadly the theater will be demolished, I’m 99% sure. The office tower is in great shape though.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on March 7, 2005 at 3:11 pm

Wow…the LA theater is in great shape, judging by the photos on the official web site. Glad to know that one of the three met with a decent fate. I have always thought that the City of Chicago made a mistake in tearing their UA theater down. It was in decent shape, had a great interior, and was of managable size.

sdoerr on February 28, 2005 at 1:34 pm

Ideed there is still the UA located in LA, but sadly Detroit’s was the best of the others including the LA.

My UA Page: http://www.snweb.org

kimel0001 on February 24, 2005 at 10:38 pm

I almost hate to read these sad stories, but fantastic link with interior pics. Thanks Ken.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on February 24, 2005 at 4:55 pm

The link to the United Artists Theatre pages on the Forgotten Detroit website is http://www.forgottendetroit.com/uat/index/html where there are many photos of the sad state this of this once magnificent theatre.

Thankfully, the very similar designed United Artists Theatre in downtown Los Angeles is kept in immaculate condition by the church which operates from it.

kimel0001 on February 24, 2005 at 3:59 pm

Just finished reading about this theatre. What a sad story. Never been to this theatre, but the exterior looks great with nice signage. Am I correct in understanding that it was left unsealed for years before being sealed. What a waste. Sorry to here about this one. Hopefully it’s not lost forever.

JimRankin on February 24, 2005 at 3:55 pm

Mr. Illitch can no doubt afford many, many thousands of dollars in fines, as he awaits the propitious moment to stop paying property taxes if no buyer of the land has stepped forward, and then, like many tens of thousands of other landlords before him, he will abandon the property and let the taxpayers pay for emergency demolition. Hundreds of thousands of dollars will then be spent by the city for a safe demolition, and placed on the property tax bill as a lein upon the next buyer of the land. Then, years from now, when a new land broker is interested, he will seidel up to the politicians and offer to purchse the land from the city provided they give him tax moratoriums, credits for site improvements, waivers of environmental regulations, and forgiveness of any and all leins on the property — and the city will desperately and cravenly agree to all this, thus making the taxpayrs pay twice over for the sins of the previous owners! It’s all called Free Enterprise or what our grandfathers would have called Corruption.

sdoerr on February 24, 2005 at 3:39 pm

4 tickets have appeared on the UA Doors! It’s about time Ilitch is finded for the damage he’s done to the poor thing!
I heard the tickets total a few thousand $$

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on February 19, 2005 at 5:16 pm

I have seen interior pictures of this theater on a site called Forgotten Detroit. It is in ruins…and the term is not used lightly. I cannot believe that anyone will put forth the gigantic investment necessary to restore it.

Sad to say…I think this one is a lost cause.

That being the case, a city with something like the Fox Theater can only complain so much.

sdoerr on February 9, 2005 at 11:52 am

It’s still there phillster but Ilitch ruined the building.

The theater has a huge hole in the roof and it has been neglected for years.

Vandals have gotten in and vandalized everything, removed and busted the maidens, took out wiring, etc.

The future does not look good for the United Artists at all. And the fact Ilitch owns it threatens it even more!

phillster on February 9, 2005 at 11:47 am

The “revival” you speak about in the 60’s wasn’t so short-lived. It went on from earlier than that until the very end of the roadshow business in the late 70’s early 80’s. The UA was always booked with a 70MM roadshow “event” movie on reserved seat basis. This was THE roadshow house in Detroit, even thought there were many others. The UA was where you saw Cleopatra, Judgment at Nuremberg, My Fair Lady, Becket, Doctor Zhivago, Ben-Hur, King of Kings, Sweet Charity, Doctor Doolittle, Goodbye Mr. Chips and many others. If it’s still standing, this is the place that should be next in line to be saved and restored. It would be an ideal place to be the American 70MM Motion Picture Museum, as it were, always showing the great roadshow epics.

sdoerr on February 5, 2005 at 8:04 pm

Heh, went down and seen the underside of the marquee collapsed onto the sidewalk below, lets see how long it will be before Ilitch cleans it up ahaha.

Bluie on October 3, 2004 at 12:18 pm

I believe the statement that Detroit’s United Artists Theatre was the first to get CinemaScope is incorrect. The first Detroit house to install ‘scope equipment was the Fox, for the opening of the first film to be (not produced, but) released in the anamorphic process, “The Robe.” I was an usher at this very glamorous event, and had the opportunity of exploring backstage, and in the booth. I remember the screen was particularly large, in that the early C'scope features had an aspect ratio of 2.67:1, rather than the current 2.34:1. Up until that night, the only wide-screen house in Detroit was the Music Hall, showing “This is Cinerama.”

sdoerr on August 30, 2004 at 12:46 pm

here is a link to the window graffiti: http://www.snweb.org/pics/det35.jpg

JimRankin on August 16, 2004 at 8:26 am

See the discussion about the graffiti situation here and elsewhere at: http://cinematreasures.org/news/X11973_0_1_0_C_21804/

sdoerr on July 24, 2004 at 11:38 am

This week the city painted all the boards on the first floor black…

sdoerr on June 22, 2004 at 5:16 am

The UA has been open since the late 90’s as Bryan posted, Mike Illitch (owner of Little Caesars) owns the UA, Fox, and Adams. He had left the UA open for years, thus scavengers have gone inside, staling copper wiring, smashing the Indian maidens (last time I heard only one remained, that one is probably smashed now). Sadly this theater is such a bad stage of ruin, the auditorium has lost its spectacular look. If you are on the streets you can see graffiti in the windows, although it is vandalism, it has earned the title among locals as “the nicest abandoned building.” I do have to agree somewhat as it isn’t cuss words, rather anti-war, peace, but overall I wish they wouldn’t have done it. I am glad to say that the complex has been sealed good (from my observations, and looking for a way in), the doors are caulked shut. I actually hoped to document the building, but I guess it is great that it is finally sealed good.
I have some pictures I have taken of the exterior including the graffiti windows located HERE.

gfitrakis on October 7, 2003 at 1:51 pm

The United Artist did not play “sound of Music”. (At least not the 1st run Road show version}.

“Music”, Played its first run at the Madison Theatre.

GREGORY on April 17, 2002 at 11:09 pm

The United Artists Theatre, in Detroit, was the best theatre I have ever been in to see a film. The first motion picture I saw there was SOUTH PACIFIC in Todd-AO. The picture and sound were perfect. As the overture played the house lights would slowly dim until the last note hit and the giant gold curtains opened and opened. Also saw there: Walt Disney’s SLEEPING BEAUTY, BEN-HUR, THE ALAMO, MY FAIR LADY, CAMELOT, DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, DOCTOR DOLITTLE, OKLAHOMA! It is sad to think that this great theatre is in ruins.