March 21 • 05:53 AM

Curtain is drawn at Imlay theater

Cinema III sign is blank, doors closed

October 03, 2007
IMLAY CITY — It looks like the curtain's been drawn at Cinema III movie theater.

As of last week, the sign went blank and the doors were closed on the theater, which is the closest venue to take in the latest Hollywood hits outside of Lapeer, Flint or Port Huron.

For longtime area resident Miguel Aguilar, the emptiness goes farther than a stark sign and a vacant building.

"With those doors closing, some of my memories seem to close as well," Aguilar says.

It was a favorite spot to gather and hang out with friends, Aguilar recalls, and even helped him out in the love department.

"The theater is where I took one of my girlfriends out for our first date," he says.

Aguilar enjoyed some antics outside the theater as well.

"I have to admit it is where I went over and did some 'donuts' in the snow with my 1983 Cougar," Aguilar grins.

The loss of Cinema III also prompts some fond memories for Marty Rankin.

The longtime Imlay City resident and his wife, Pam, chatted over the weekend about how much they'll miss the place—which was conveniently located near their Fifth Street home.

Trademark old-fashioned movie projector outside of Cinema III stands alone since the theater closed its doors ‘until further notice’ last week. photo by Catherine Minolli.

"It was a real benefit to have it right in our back yard," Rankin says. "Pam's youngest son Adam was always just walking over there to meet friends and now that's gone."

Rankin recalls that it was a "big deal" for Imlay City when Cinema III opened its doors sometime in the early 1980s.

"At the time we really had nothing," Rankin says. "I mean there was the PIX in Lapeer but other than that you had to go to Port Huron, Flint or Sterling Heights to one of the multi-plexes down there."

Not having to travel far to keep up with the latest movies was something a lot of community members—especially young people—really enjoyed, Rankin recalls.

"Kids were always meeting each other up there on a Friday night," he says. "You'd see kids walk down Fifth Street and cut through Dan Drive to go to the movie theater. It was nice for the parents because they didn't have to drop off and pick up." Cinema III's closing isn't the first farewell to a theater that Rankin has witnessed. He recalls when the movie theater in downtown Imlay City closed its doors as well.

"Mary Poppins was the last movie they showed," Rankin laughs.

CSB Bank sits at its former location.

A number of factors may have contributed to Cinema III's closing, Rankin speculates. Regardless of those, he's sorry to see it go.

"It was always nice to have the movies in town, a safe spot for kids and adults to go for a couple hours," he says. "Maybe it's today's economy and people cutting back on expenses, maybe people take it for granted. It could be a lot of things but its too bad it's closed."

For the past couple of summers, Cinema III hosted a classic car night every Thursday evening in its parking lot. During its final days of operations, the sign advertised the cost at just $5 for all seats.

Efforts to reach Kathryn Bowen of Cinema III were unsuccessful by press time.

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