TRAVERSE CITY — Michael Moore remembers when there were no movie theaters within Traverse City municipal limits.
Today, there are two: the State Theatre and Bijou by the Bay.
Moore, along with other leaders of the Traverse City Film Festival, on Friday invited area residents to join them to celebrate the latter, Bijou by the Bay, as part of the official community grand opening of the Bijou from Nov. 22 to Nov. 28.
The weeklong string of events features several free movies and the opportunity to tour the theater that first opened its doors during the summer Film Festival.
“I think it’s probably been half a century since, inside the city of Traverse City, there were two movie theaters,” Moore said. “Having this beautiful theater in a 1930s-era building on a park on the bay is one more thing that helps to improve the quality of life here.”
The theater is located in the old Con Foster building adjacent to Clinch Park. It underwent about $1 million in renovations in preparation for its opening. Moore invites interested citizens to walk through the theater and check it out or watch a movie at pre-scheduled times.
The events kick off Nov. 22 at 5:30 p.m. with an official ribbon cutting. Former Gov. William Milliken and Traverse City Mayor Pro-Tem Jim Carruthers will cut the ribbon. Afterwards, the Bijou marquee will be unveiled and lit. That evening, in an invitation-only event, area residents who helped make the Bijou possible will attend a special sneak preview screening of the new Robert Redford film “All is Lost.”
On Nov. 23 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. there will be a free open house that includes tours. Everyone is welcome.
Evenings during the week the Bijou will present special screenings of films never shown at the State at regular admission prices. They include “Prisoners” on Nov. 23 at 8:30 p.m., “The World’s End” on Nov. 24 at 7 p.m., “Kill Your Darlings” on Nov. 25 at 6:30 p.m., “Machete Kills” on Nov. 26 at 7 p.m., and “Don Jon” on Nov. 27 at 7:30 p.m. “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” will open on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28.
State Theatre members will have the first chance to purchase advance tickets.
There are also a string of daytime and early evening movies at the Bijou that will be free for everyone. On Nov. 23, Moore will introduce three of his favorite movies, including the “The Shawshank Redemption”, at noon.
Moore said he’s pleased with how the Bijou turned out and he’s very proud of what the Film Festival means to the region.
“I feel lucky and blessed that I’ve had the opportunity to make a contribution to the area,” Moore said.