If Paul Glantz hadn’t built so many movie houses, he might have been a little worried Monday when he toured the future home of Emagine Theatre in Saline. The luxury nine-screen theatre is scheduled to open with a preview party benefitting Saline Area Social Service and the Foundation for Saline Area Schools on March 17. The next morning, it opens to the public.
“If you walked through there today, you’d say there’s no way you’re going to get it done,” Glantz said with a laugh. “But I’ve been through this a number of times. We’re down the to the finish. It comes together very quickly at the end.”
Glantz expects he’ll have a certificate of occupancy for the theatre, located in the old Country Market at 1335 E. Michigan Ave., a week before opening.
“We’d like a week for employee training,” Glantz said.
Emagine will employ about 75 people in Saline. The theatre is still looking for bartenders, cooks, theatre monitors, cleaning crew members and more (Click here for job listings).
In Saline, there is growing excitement. For one, it’s been decades since the city housed a movie house. Secondly, Emagine plans a fun grand opening party and charity preview on March 17. Tickets are $100 for adults and $50 for children (18 and under). There’s a ribbon cutting at 6 p.m., gourmet strolling reception and cocktails at 6:30 p.m., live entertainment from 6:30 to 9 p.m., and the movies begin at 7:30 p.m.
Emagine Entertainment will donate 100 percent of the ticket proceeds to the Foundation for Saline Area Schools and Saline Area Social Service.
“We’re committed to the communities in which we do business. These two charities, we learned through due diligence, are well respected in the community, have local appeal and they do good, important work in the community,” Glantz said.
Foundation for Saline Area Schools works to support initiatives in Saline schools. Saline Area Social Services assists residents and families with low incomes.
The day after the grand opening, the theatre will be open to the public. Movies playing that week include Logan, starting Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, and Kong: Scull Island, which retells the mythic tale of Kong.
Glantz’s new theatre in Saline will house nine screens and 1,000 seats. The size of the screening rooms vary. The two largest theatres will hold about 150 seats each. If it doesn’t sound like many, it’s by design.
“If you opened a theater in a building of this size 10 years ago, you would have wanted 3,000 seats,” Glantz said. “The advent of reclining chairs reduces the seat count by two-thirds. Each chair takes up about 21 square feet.”
Spaciousness and comfort are central to Emagine’s formula.
“Customers are in for a highly relaxing bit of escapism,” Glantz said.
It’s not just about the comfortable reclining chairs. When you buy your tickets in advance by phone or on your computer, you’re buying assigned seating.
“So you buy your seats, you’ve reserved them. You don’t have to rush to get there and wait in a line,” Glantz said.
If you order a pizza from the restaurant, it can be delivered to your seat on a tray that plugs into the cup holder on your armrest.
“The goal is to give people an exemplary night out,” Glantz said.
Wine and beer is another thing that separates Emagine from the typical movie house. Emagine appeared before Saline City Council Monday seeking its approval for a resort license to sell alcohol. Glantz said Monday that if council approved the license, he believed the state could expedite the issue and have it ready for the grand opening.
Glantz said the Emagine Theatre has been well received in Saline.
“It has been as positive as positive can be. I have been overwhelmed with warmth and support from the community and from elected officials,” Glantz said. “I’m very optimistic about the location and I believe we’re bringing something to this community that people will enjoy.”
As of now, Emagine would be the only theatre of its kind in Washtenaw County. Glantz expects Rave Cinema will see changes the near future. He hopes the Emagine experience will bring people from Ann Arbor and other Washtenaw County locales.
“But we think this location is viable even if nobody north of I-94 comes to see us,” Glantz said.
Emagine now has 18 movie theatres in Michigan, Minnesota and Illinois.
Glantz admits he didn’t come up with the idea of reclining seats in a movie theatre. He first saw reclining chairs at the AMC Star theatre at John R and 14 Mile.
“That was a theatre that had done a lot of business in the early days, but patronage waned. When they remodeled with reclining seats, the patron count doubled,” Glantz said. “It didn’t take me long after that to figure out that folks valued the opportunity to elevate their legs when they watched a movie.”
And in retrospect, Glantz said, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
“I was one of those guys who railed against people who put their feet up on the chairs in front of them. I always thought it was rude,” Glantz said.
At the new Emagine Theatre in Saline, that won’t be an issue.
(Click here for charity preview/grand opening tickets)