George Burns Theatre
33330 Plymouth Road,
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One of the last Detroit-area theaters built with a full stage and orchestra pit, the Mai Kai was built for Nicholas George in 1963 at a cost of over $1.5 million. It could seat 1,396 and decorated in Polynesian style, as its name would imply, though it had all the most up-to-date amenities of a 1960’s-era movie house, including both 35mm and 70mm projectors, a huge 60' by 27'; screen, and comfortable seating.
On opening night, the stars of the first movie to play the Mai Kai, “Son of Flubber”, Tommy Kirk and Annette Funicello, were in attendance. Also, the Mai Kai Orchestra performed, for the first and last time.
The theatre’s management claimed that the Mai Kai’s parking lot could hold more than 3,000 cars, but the true number was closer to 500.
Though several times throughout the 1970’s there was talk of dividing the auditorium into a twin or more screens, the Mai Kai Theatre remained a single screen until it closed, in 1987, a year after the theatre was acquired by AMC. During the 1970’s and into the 1980’s, the Mai Kai Theatre was one of the more popular area venues to see “event” films like “Superman” or the original “Star Wars” trilogy, in large part due to its vast screen.
The Mai Kai Theatre was reopened in 1988 as the Omni Star Theatre, after close to half a million dollars was said to have been spent remodeling the former movie theater into a live performance venue. However, in less than two months after it opened, the Omni Star Theatre was closed down, due to its owner’s illegal activities.
In 1992, the Omni Star Theatre reopened as the George Burns Theatre, after a $1 million face lift, with the theatre’s namesake being present at the opening festivities. However, despite high hopes for the George Burns Theatre, the theatre was shuttered after a little more than a year in operation.
After sitting vacant for almost a decade, the George Burns Theatre was demolished in 2003 for new town homes and a Walgreens.
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