Southfield City 12

23275 Greenfield Road,
Southfield, MI 48075

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Southfield City 12

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The Americana opened in 1967, for Nicholas George, designed by Samson Associates, and seating around 1750 in its ultra-modern auditorium. Its vast screen, 30' by 60' was one of the largest ever seen in Michigan before the era of Imax theaters. The Americana’s opening-night film was Otto Preminger’s “Hurry Sundown”.

The America quickly became known as a roadshow house, with 70mm projection equipment, along with the nearby Northland, though the Northland originally ended up screening superior films than the Americana in those first few years. Early roadshows included “Finian’s Rainbow” (1968), “Song of Norway” (1970) and “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” (1970).

Two additional smaller auditoriums were added on in 1972, both seating 750, and designed by noted theater architect Louis Wiltse. Later the same year, a fourth, similarly-sized auditorium was added by Wiltse, and the theater became known as the Americana I, II, III, IV.

During the mid-70s to early 80s, the Americana was best known for its highly successful runs of blockbuster films like the original “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” trilogies, especially in its large main auditorium, which became one of the only ones in the area after the Northland was twinned in the mid-70s.

In 1986, Nicholas George sold the Americana to AMC Theatres, just months after three more screens were added. Within a couple years of AMC taking over the Americana, the number of screens had been increased to eight, but the original large auditorium had not been divided — yet.

When crime began to rise during the late 80s at the theater, including a set of shootings, the chain took the unusual step of adding metal detectors.

AMC spent $2.5 million remodeling the Americana in 1990, which finally included the gutting of the original auditorium, and loss of its huge screen, carving the space into five more smallish screens. The theater also lost its original name as well, becoming the AMC Southfield City 12.

In 2001, AMC closed the aging multiplex down, unable to compete with the nearby even larger, flashier and cutting-edge Star Theatres Southfield 20. The former Americana was demolished not long after it was closed to make way for new devolopment.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

brian74
brian74 on June 4, 2004 at 3:42 pm

I saw the movie “Tommy” there. That was when Dolby stereo first came out. The lines there to see Star Wars 3 were incredible back then.
That theatre had all the first runs all the time. Unfortunately, it was not much to look at in the way of nostalgic architecture due to it’s modern design.

brian74
brian74 on June 4, 2004 at 3:42 pm

I saw the movie “Tommy” there. That was when Dolby stereo first came out. The lines there to see Star Wars 3 were incredible back then.
That theatre had all the first runs all the time. Unfortunately, it was not much to look at in the way of nostalgic architecture due to it’s modern design.

stukgh
stukgh on July 14, 2004 at 11:58 am

My wife and I used to patronize Nick George Theaters regularly. They featured two constants: A large framed portrait of Mr. George in the lobby; and wonderfully garish carpeting.

We regularly drove from downtown Detroit to the theater in its Americana and early AMC incarnation because of the wonderful giant screen and stereo sound, rarities in those days (1982-88). Some memories include “Aliens” and “Robocop”.

Timothy
Timothy on July 17, 2004 at 2:24 pm

It’s true that the Americana was well-known for it’s run of the “Star Wars” movies, but it was the Northland Theater that ran the first two Indiana Jones films. “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”, however, was shown first-run at the AMC Americana.

femaletrumpet02
femaletrumpet02 on August 19, 2004 at 11:08 pm

I remember seeing Toy Story at the Southfield City in 1997 when I was 13 with a friend of mine while our moms went to go see Waiting to Exhale. Toy Story played in the former large theatre which was split into 2 separate theaters. I remember the Metal detectors there, and the large gatherings of High-School aged teenagers hanging out before the 7 and 8 PM shows started and people at the bus stop waiting for the Greenfield bus to go to Northland.

Coate
Coate on June 21, 2005 at 9:09 am

“I saw the movie "Tommy” there. That was when Dolby stereo first came out.“ (brian74)


“Tommy” was released in a variety of sound formats, including an early version of Dolby Stereo. Dolby Stereo was installed at the Americana in May 1977 for “Star Wars.” The theater upgraded to a 70mm six-track Dolby Stereo presentation of “Star Wars” in November 1977. In December ‘77, they began their 70mm run “Close Encounters Of The Third Kind” at which time the exclusive Detroit area 70mm showing of “Star Wars” moved to the Northland.

Other AKAs for this entry not included at the top of this page are Americana I-II-III (1972-), Americana I-II-III-IV (mid-70s), Americana Complex (late-70s/early-80s), and Americana 8 (1986-1990).

Coate
Coate on June 21, 2005 at 9:11 am

The Americana was among the theatres included in the original limited-market launch of “Star Wars.” The Americana’s 5/25/77 opening-day gross, as reported in Daily Variety, was a house record $11,532.

femaletrumpet02
femaletrumpet02 on May 13, 2007 at 4:47 am

The Southfield City was also near my house, and I remember my mom really not letting me go up there when I was a kid because of the metal detectors and wild behavior of the kids up there.

mwoli007
mwoli007 on July 28, 2013 at 9:23 pm

I remember seeing Tommy here too. Was the first movie they charged $4. The theater was so packed we had to sit in the 1st few rows.

I also worked as an usher at this theater in 1978-79. I started when “The Wiz” was playing. They often showed premieres of new movies with local celebrities attending. We literally rolled out the red carpet and the ushers wore white gloves. We had jackets with braids on the shoulder signifying our role (white for ticket takers/doormen and the coveted gold braid for head usher – which I was when I left)

Was a great job compared to dishwashing (my first job) and got to see every movie there for free for 2 yrs.

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