State Theater


Store Name State Theatre
Building culture, education, and night life through filmBusiness Type Arts, Entertainment and Recreation

NAICS Code 71

Location 233 E Front St., Traverse City, MI 49684

Nearby Businesses Horizon Books, Red Ginger

Owner/Manager Jenifer Craven, Traverse City Film Festival

Special Store Activities Online film discussion forum, library film series, interfaith film series, high school film club events, live simulcasts of NYC Metropolitan Opera

Year Opened 2005


Phone 231-392-1134

E-mail n/a

Community Profile Traverse City (population: 14,532; 10-mile radius: 67,678) is the self proclaimed “Cherry Capital of the World” hosting annual week-long cherry festival every fall. Located on the southern tip of Grand Traverse Bay in Northern Michigan (southern peninsula), the predominate economic activity is tourism. The combination of nearby ski and golf resorts, cycling, hiking, camping, freshwater beaches, Great Lakes sport fishing, and wine-based tourism draw tourists year-round; making Traverse City the second most popular destination in Michigan. Traverse City is also known for its historic downtown dating to the late 1800s

Products Sold & Niche Developed

The Traverse City State Theatre is a run by the non-profit Traverse City Film Festival, showing primarily independent films. Film genres include American independents, foreign films, documentaries, and other limited-release works. The Theatre also has limited showings of previously released Hollywood films. The main theatre seats 540 and features a restored interior, including Romanesque columns, acoustical improvements, and modern digital projection equipment.

Market Segments Served

The target market is predominately educated empty-nesters; however turnout is high among high school students and senior citizens. The annual Traverse City Film Festival draws tens of thousands of patrons from around the region from all market segments. Theater hosts special activities targeted at additional market segments, such as interfaith film series and high school film club events.

Contributions to the Business Community

The State Theatre is located in downtown Traverse City and was originally built in 1916 and rebuilt in 1923 after a fire. It closed down in 1991, before being revitalized for the Traverse City Film Festival beginning in 2005. In November 2007, the community celebrated the grand opening of the theater as a year round art house. The reopening of the theatre is key event in the revitalization of Downtown Traverse City, drawing residents from the surrounding area and providing an entertainment venue to complement and strengthen the existing business mix. The Theatre draws regular crowds of movie goers which have surprised local food and retail establishments with the influx of patronage, “completely changing the downtown.” The modern theatre was founded by filmmaker Michael Moore, and co-founders include award-winning writers, film producers, photographers, and authors.

The State Theatre hosts monthly Library Film series, Interfaith film series, high school film club events, free student film days, and free admission to students on school snow days. The State Theatre is one of the most successful independent movie theatres in the U.S. in terms of box office gross sales. Traverse City hosts one of the largest film festivals in the Midwest drawing tens of thousands of moviegoers, anchored by the Traverse City State Theatre. The State Theatre also organizes outdoor showings of classic movies throughout the summer, drawing up to 7,000 attendees, many proceeded by free concerts.

The Theatre has been fully restored, and improvement include the ceiling in the main theatre that now displays a fiber-optic replica of the Milky Way as seen from the Northern Michigan sky, designed by a local artist. This art piece has become a significant draw to the Theatre during non-showing times.


Review by: Joshua Clements, UW Extension CCED