This is the official annoucment from Michael Moore on behalf of the State Theater and Bijou by the Bay and brought to you by MyNorth News Service.

After 20 long pandemic months, after all the amazing efforts to save our theaters, all the restructuring and restaffing, the fundraising and the new restoration of these historic landmarks we are thrilled to announce that we will re-open both the State and Bijou theaters this Friday, November 19.

All movies on this opening weekend will act as a small token of our appreciation to you — EVERY SEAT WILL BE FREE!

These FREE movies on our WELCOME BACK WEEKEND will include Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Casablanca, The Big Lebowski, The Social Network, The Dark Knight and Singin’ in the Rain. You can get your tickets at the State Theater and Bijou by the Bay box offices one hour before showtimes — or right now online at

We are celebrating a series of accomplishments that most of us were not sure could be achieved back in March of 2020 when the Governor was rightly forced to close the doors of every movie theater in Michigan. We here at the Traverse City Film Festival, though, had other serious problems confronting us — and I can now say every single one of them has been completely overcome!

They include:

• A half-million dollars worth of debts which we were carrying have now been all paid off! We are for the first time in years debt-free! This was achieved because hundreds — thousands! — of you donated $10, $20, $100, a thousand dollars — even $10,000! And we received, from numerous local vendors, a serious and generous break for which we are so grateful.

• The Boardman River that was flooding the basement of the State Theatre has now been returned to the actual Boardman River! This was an amazing engineering achievement thanks to the genius of TCFF Board member David Poinsett, Thom Darga, Steve Elliott, Keen Technical Solutions, and the engineers at Fishbeck, Inc.

• A serious upgrade of our fresh air circulation systems and a new air-filtering operation was achieved — and this will make being in our theaters as safe as is nearly possible during these times.

• A commitment we announced last spring, perhaps the first in the area to do so, that everyone attending the theaters must be fully vaccinated, fully masked, temperature taken at the door and, for the time being, only about 25% of the seats will be in use to create the necessary social distancing — with a team of trained Covid Safety Personnel who will ensure compliance with our Covid Protocols.

• The ongoing and continued support of the Downtown Development Authority, the City Commission, the City Clerk and City Manager, our neighbors on Front Street, Congressman Dan Kildee of Flint, Bluewater Technologies, the Hollywood studios who wanted and needed us to stay alive, the Small Business Administration of our Federal Government, the Oleson Family Foundation, the Tricoastal Foundation, the National Philanthropic Trust, Joanne Rusch and Bryan Watson, Green Brick Foundation, Barbara Timmer and Catherine Benkaim — and the 20 families and individuals who came forward to pay all of our essential monthly bills during the pandemic (utilities, insurance, maintenance, security, warehousing, etc.).

And all the people who kept believing in us.

• A brand new Board of Directors, consisting of both longtime members and new active, talented members who literally pulled us back from the abyss. These board members and I spent 20 to 40 hours a week on every aspect of fixing that which needed to be fixed and creating a new way forward so that we will never be in this spot again, Covid or no Covid. We have put together a great new staff consisting of both a few former house managers and some new, energized staff members who believe in our mission and who love Traverse City AND the movies. You’ll love them, too! And an incredible core group of new and old volunteers! I’ll be introducing this great Board and staff to you over the coming weeks.

The State and the Bijou are back! Thanks to all of you who helped to make this happen!

It’s time for all of us to now come together and enjoy the movies once again the way they were meant to be seen — in our 87-year old WPA-built building in Clinch Park (thank you FDR!) and our 106-year old movie palace that the Motion Picture Association of America proclaimed was “the best place in the world to see a movie: The State Theatre of Traverse City, Michigan!”

After these two difficult years, we all could use a good laugh, a cathartic cry, and a chance to be swept away by the magic of cinema in these two theaters which only show “Just Great Movies”, in a place where we believe “One Great Movie Can Change Your Life.”

Photo(s) by Dave Weidner