A nonprofit movie house, The Harbor Theater offers cinefiles a welcome reprieve from stale screen fillers by stocking its theater with rich, artistic, and fresh independent and foreign films. Sharpen subtitle-reading skills by catching an upcoming screening of The Illusionist (coming soon), an animated feature from the French filmmakers behind The Triplets of Belleville. Or brush up on American history with Made in Dageham, a period drama exploring sexual discrimination during a 1968 walkout at the Ford Dageham plant.
When John and Mary Magocs opened the Capri Drive-In in August 1964, they had no idea the theater they ran with their two young sons would one day be highlighted as one of the most charming in the country. The New York Times once named it among 10 Drive-Ins Worth a Detour, noting its family ownership and stellar concessions. Capri boasts that its original 150'x75' screen is one of the largest in the country; in 1986, it expanded its viewing space by adding a second 80'x40' screen. Short-range FM radio stations broadcast audio from the drive-in's current showings to the spacious lot, which holds more than 900 cars. Viewers can swing by the snack bar to pick up barbecue-pork sandwiches, nachos, ice cream, and even mosquito coils, which repel bugs more easily than hurling a personalized insult at each one that flies by.
After appearing as Ted's band on eight seasons of Scrubs, The Blanks take center stage to regale audiences with harmonious a cappella songs and quirky sketch routines. A talented quartet that channels the eccentric goofiness of Monty Python and The Three Stooges' raffish disregard for pies, The Blanks entertain audiences with vocal renditions of TV theme songs, commercial jingles, and goofy skits. The family-friendly troupe takes on pop-culture icons and a host of miscellany with the unspoken goal of robbing the laughter hidden in audiences' purses. Audience members who arrive early can peruse the historic 1882 opera house, whose recent facelifts have left it with a permanent smile and plush amenities.
Riviera Theatre is a newly renovated artifact of the 1920s that illuminates silver screens with independent or hard-to-find movies. Cinephiles can choose from a variety of upcoming features, which include The Other Woman with Academy Award winning Natalie Portman, and Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, which follows a man battling morbid obesity by only drinking fruit and vegetable juice. Platonic partners can sip on sodas and share a large bucket of popcorn that's lightly buttered so hands can slip out of awkwardly long handshakes. Amidst ornate molding and golden lighting salvaged from Riviera's vaudeville days, viewers enjoy films amplified in 5.1 digital surround sound within a 370-seat auditorium.
A glittering, two-story marquee and Spanish-style terra-cotta façade extols the Michigan Theater of Jackson's 82-year history to anyone who passes. Established in 1930, the theater originally presented movies and vaudeville shows to the public, who viewed the spectacles from the lower level or balcony seated between gilded columns under an ornate, plaster ceiling. Though the entertainment industry continued to evolve, The Michigan Theatre retained much of its lavish, vintage charm—including rich, damask draperies, stained-glass light fixtures, and WWII-era Pacman machines—until it closed down in 1978. The historical theater was acquired in 1993 by a not-for-profit organization, which reopened the theater's doors and restored the building to its current state.
Today, the entertainment hub hosts classic and art-house films as well as live theater and concerts. In the first-floor lobby, an old-fashioned candy counter sells sweets and popcorn to make sure audiences have something to throw at the screen during midnight screenings of Chinatown.
When the organizers of Grand Rapids Film Festival look at a blank movie screen, they see a field of possibility—a fresh canvas onto which writers, actors, and filmmakers can channel their dreams. The festival showcases those dreams once each year during a multiday juried film competition, which takes place throughout the city.
The festival generally bypasses mainstream flicks in favor of underground cinema, eye-opening documentaries, and films that highlight the region. There's something for virtually every viewer, from the family-friendly movies shown at the Grand Rapids Public Museum to the edgier films played during a brew-n-view segment at Pyramid Scheme.