Showcase Cinemas Dearborn

24105 Michigan Avenue,
Dearborn, MI 48124

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Showcase Cinemas Dearborn

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened in 1941 as the Dearborn Theatre, this Charles N. Agree-designed movie house could originally seat 1,498, all on a single sloping floor. The Dearborn Theatre was a smaller version (around 1,000 less seats) of Agree’s Royal Theatre, which opened in Detroit less than half a year earlier. Both were designed in bold Streamline Moderne style, and like the Royal Theatre, the Dearborn Theatre contained a small stage, but had no dressing rooms or orchestra pit. The Dearborn Theatre was run by the Wisper and Wetsman circuit from the time it opened, until 1973, when it was acquired by the Wayne Amusement Company.

In the late-1960’s, a small 300-seat auditorium was added to the theater, called the Dearborn Living Room.

In the 1970’s, a third screen was added to the Dearborn. By this time, it was now called the Dearborn Entertainment Center. It was also one of the first theaters in the state of Michigan to serve alcohol, along with Wayne Amusement’s Quo Vadis.

In the 1980’s, the original nearly 1,500-seat auditorium was carved into four smaller auditoriums, and in 1986, the complex was sold to National Amusements. During its six-year operation of the Dearborn, National Amusements added yet another three screens. In 1992, Showcase Cinemas took over the Dearborn, and it was renamed Showcase Cinemas Dearborn. Though a bit frayed around the edges, the Dearborn remained a popular venue for seeing the latest first-run films.

It was closed September 4, 2006 and was demolished in spring of 2010.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

sdoerr on February 29, 2004 at 4:33 pm

Picture of the Showcase Cinemas Dearborn from Water Winter Wonderland.

CArchivist on June 12, 2004 at 12:34 am

I worked in the Dearborn Theatre from 1987 through 1990, and there was a couple of things I had to mention that your piece missed or got wrong.
National Amusements IS Showcase Cinemas. NA was the parent company name of SC, all of which were owned by Viacom, which is controlled by Sumner Redstone.
There have been two major changes undergone by the theatre during its history not really mentioned in the article.
Around 1965, there was an expansion of Michigan Avenue in front of the theatre, including the creation of a turn lane onto nearby Telegraph Rd. The original streamline tall marquee had to be removed from the theatre to prevent most of it hanging over road. I remember seeing the blueprints in the theatre’s basement. The remains of the support beams to the original marquee was removed during the construction of 1989.
In 1989, Showcase Cinemas did a major overhall to add the three cinema’s in back. A catwalk was added that broke through the original theatre to the new ones in the back (the theatre had been sub-divided years prior). During this construction, the original bathrooms, domed lobby, candy stand and front facade were all transformed into the cookie cutter designs that dominate all Showcase Cinema theatres. Considering the remolding in the 1970s to install the bar also installed the world’s ugliest shag carpeting on all the walls, that the dome had not been cleaned in years, and the candy stand had hidden petrified popcorn in its bowls—it was an improvement.
Couple of odd & end facts about the place. The dining room theatre actually used to be a dry cleaning business attached to the theatre. When it was expanded into a theatre, it still maintained its low business level ceiling, making it the oddest theatre screen in the Detroit area. Standing up in the wrong spot would result in your profile being projected onto the screen.
On the opposite side of that theatre was the vaccum cleaner repair store. It remained there after I left and would later become the game room.
In theatre four, carved out of the original theatre, has a section of seats tucked in the back next to the projection booth—basically hidden from view from the main aisle way area. It is probably the most notorious make-out place in the entire city.
At one time, the upstairs office & storage rooms used to be an apartment. The remains of the kitchen, living room & bedroom existed when I worked there. One room was converted into a private screening booth over looking screen #3. Many local VIP’s used to use the room at one time or another.

cookiecutter0356 on September 5, 2006 at 11:07 am

The Dearborn closed on September 4th, 2006.

jcholmes on May 3, 2008 at 6:18 pm

Ray B –

Showcase Cinemas NA is owned wholey by National Amusements, which is owned primarily by Sumner and Shari Redstone (That is important to note as they have not agreed in years, and Sumner is trying to buy her out). National Amusements is considered the Parent company of Viacom, as it is the largest corporate share holder, and third largest, with Shari and Sumner holding the second and first largest shares (respectively) of Viacom.

CSWalczak on November 8, 2009 at 1:28 am

Yes, that’s it – as it looked then. Here’s a link to a site that has two pictures of what it looked like after closing (scroll down to see them. View link

Status should be closed.

sdoerr on February 12, 2010 at 10:55 am

Demolition underway, currently interior demo

kencmcintyre on March 31, 2010 at 5:14 pm

Here is another photo. Did they finish demolishing this theater?

Scott Neff
Scott Neff on June 17, 2010 at 9:52 pm

This theatre was recently demolished.

detroitmi97 on June 20, 2010 at 8:52 am

Here are pictures of showcase cinemas the inside,demo.
View link
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Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on September 6, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Hope someone saved the one sheet frames.

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