Birmingham 8 acquired by Emagine

Don’t worry — the marquee isn’t going anywhere, executives say

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published February 9, 2021

 The nearly century-old Birmingham 8 Theatre will reopen within 90 days, operated by Emagine Entertainment.

The nearly century-old Birmingham 8 Theatre will reopen within 90 days, operated by Emagine Entertainment.

File photo by Tiffany Esshaki

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BIRMINGHAM — The historic Birmingham 8 theater in downtown Birmingham will be operated now by entertainment giant Emagine.

According to a press release from Emagine, the Birmingham 8 is closed for a while but will reopen within 90 days under the new management.

 “We are pleased to welcome the Birmingham 8 into the Emagine family,” Paul Glantz, the chairman of Emagine, said in a press release. “The community of Birmingham can be at ease knowing we plan to maintain all its charm under our ownership.”

But ownership is a tricky word, according to Ted Fuller, of the Birmingham-based Central Park Properties. He said his company has owned the theater since 1976 — and still does.

“We’ve leased it to Emagine. They’re a better theater operator than we are,” Fuller explained. “Previously, it had been leased (Ilitch Holdings), and they gave it up.”

The theater last underwent renovations in 2015 with new seating, updates to screens and sound systems, and the addition of a liquor license. Glantz said no further changes will be made, and that includes the venue’s trademark lighted marquee.

“We understand the value this theater has held in the community and are committed to continuing that legacy while enhancing the consumer experience with all the virtues our brand will bring,” Glantz said.

The theater will reportedly continue to play the niche movies it has been known for, like art house films and independent projects, but it’ll add more popular first-run films to the roster to appeal to a wider audience.

Asked if the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and related shutdowns had any bearing on the Emagine acquisition, Emagine CEO Anthony LaVerde said no; the move has been in the works for some time.

“(They) weren’t hurting. These discussions began two years ago,” LaVerde explained. “COVID certainly delayed the process. But we’re very excited to come to an agreement with the owner. We believe this is a win-win for both Emagine and (Fuller).”

Fuller agreed.

“They’re a very good operator, and we’re happy to have them,” he said.

The Birmingham 8 — an eight-screen theater with 482 seats — was originally built to house just one screen in the late 1920s.

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