At Secret Cinema, the movie is a surprise

Ruth Daniels said not knowing what movie is playing adds a special element that has made Secret Cinema a success. PHOTO/XAVIER HERSHOVITZ

OU News Bureau

Ticket in one hand popcorn in the other, you’re seated in the perfect seat ready for the movie to start. But there’s one thing: You have no clue what movie is about to play.

This is what moviegoers experience the first and third Thursday of every month at 7:30 p.m. as part of the Maple Theater’s signature film series Secret Cinema.

Starting in 2012, the theater secretly selected movies to play, leaving the moviegoers with no idea of the film they were about to see. Movies were split into two categories — Old Hollywood, which is pre-1967, and New Hollywood, which is post-1967. The secret of the movie is closely kept.

Ruth Daniels, a partner at the Maple Theater in Bloomfield, is one of the few to know the movie before it is shown on the big screen.

“People are always asking me, ‘What’s the movie tonight?’ or they will try and guess,” Daniels said. “I just don’t tell anybody even if they are right.”

Daniels and Jon Goldstein, managing owner of the Maple Theater, are part of the selection process.

Each movie is opened by a host, who gives a little background on the movie without giving away the title. After the movie, the host returns for a conversation about the movie with the audience. Often, the host is where the selection process starts.

“The host will send me about 10 films that he would like to do,” Daniels said. “First, I look at them and take out the ones we have already done, then Jon and I look at it and see what interests us.”

From there, Daniels must see if the movie is available and in the correct format to be shown in a theater again.

The formula works. According to Daniels, attendance is usually about 200.

The most popular requests from hosts are 1972’s “The Godfather” and 1941’s “Maltese Falcon.” “City Lights” from 1931 is the oldest movie shown.

“Bottom line is, if we told you it was classic movie night and we were showing your favorite movie, but it’s raining, you might just stay home and pop the DVD in,” Daniels said. “But by you not knowing and having a host to talk to about it, it adds a different element.”

That element is what has kept Jeff Leitson coming back.

“I like seeing the different movies I otherwise would never watch.” Leitson said. “And the discussion afterwards makes it a different experience because people often pick up on things I never notice. Most of the time no one wants to leave the discussion is so good.”

He added that of the more than 100 secret cinemas he has experienced, there were only three he did not like.


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Posted by on Nov 16 2017. Filed under Featured article, Oakland County. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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