For nearly the entire first half of my life, there was one movie theater that I went to watch movies, Studio 28. Sometimes it was with my mother or other family members, sometimes it was with friends and sometimes it was on dates. In fact, sometimes I was alone, to take my mind off whatever I had going on at the time, to be at peace with myself, and hopefully to see a movie I would end up really enjoying.
Studio 28 opened on Christmas Day in 1965 right here in Wyoming, Michigan. Its home was on 28th Street (hence the name). Many, including myself as a kid, assumed it was because it had 28 theaters inside of it. It did not, however it was loaded with 20 theaters in total as of 1988 and seated over 6,000 people. Studio 28 was the first-ever megaplex movie theater. It was at one time the largest multi-screen movie theater complex in the world.
I have a lot of memories of going to Studio 28 and not just seeing movies. Sometimes it was just to see the new movie posters, to see what was going to be coming out. Back in the 80s and 90s, we didn’t have the internet. No YouTube or social media to let us know what was coming out and when. Behind the ticket counters were most of the movie posters, lining the wall.
They had a poster for Revenge of the Jedi that I remember always wanting. Now you can just buy it on Amazon for a few bucks. It was also back there that I saw the Ghostbusters 2 poster for the first time and got incredibly excited about it. Not just because it was a Ghostbusters sequel, but it was also to be released on my birthday.
Studio 28 was created by Jack Loeks, a pioneer in movie theaters. He was born here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Wyoming is basically a suburb of GR, I guess you could say. A whole article could be written about him at some point. He created Studio 28 as a 1,000 seat theater and then expanded it in 1967. A second, smaller theater was added, known as “Little Studio.”
Often the smaller theater was used for kids’ movies while the main theater was used for adults to watch something. The smaller theater was also used for lesser-known movies. Sometimes I believe they rented it out to people for different showing for whatever they had going on. It explains why the studio 1 theater was gigantic and over to the side was this itty bitty tiny theater that seemed like it would fit maybe 10 people total. A lot of time when a movie was on the way out of being at the theater, that was the studio it would show up in, not that it was any cheaper of course.
There was also the arcade, it was there at Studio 28, I played some games for the first time. Mortal Kombat, NBA JAM, or the holographic cowboy game (I don’t remember the name) that cost a whopping $1.50 to play, which for us back then was a lot of money. Even if we didn’t have the money to see a movie or even play the games, we would go and check them out. It was at Studio 28 the first time I was introduced to Virtue Reality. I never played it, the lines were always way too long. It was really cool to watch though. Now it’s a joke but back then it was impressive, to say the least.
Apparently, on November 29, 1990, Studio 28 broke the single-day attendance record. The attendance for the day was 16,000. A record that still stands to this day. The movies that released during that week were Home Alone and Dances with Wolves. I’ve heard this a few times in my life and when writing this I looked for information about it but found nothing concrete.
Once in my 20s, I no longer went to Studio 28 much, at least not inside. My friends and I would often hang around in the large parking lot late at night, just talking, smoking, drinking, and kicking around a hacky sack. A few times police would come through, asking what we were doing. We’d show them the hacky sack, tell them we were just hanging out. Usually, they’d leave us be, saying we shouldn’t stick around, other times they’d make us leave. We’d just head down to the next empty lot.
I don’t remember what the last movie I saw at Studio 28 was. It was a few years before it was gone though. The theater closed its doors in November 2008 after 43 years of showing the greatest movies… and the worst ones too. By then there were a few other large megaplex theaters around town. So naturally, attendance dropped. It probably didn’t help that midnight shows at the theater were no longer the safest place to be.
I can’t count how many times in my last few times going at midnight on weekends we came out seeing a few police cars there. I even heard someone got shot there one night, I have no idea how true that is. I wasn’t surprised when I heard about Studio 28 closing. I still wish I had gone back one last time to see something there.
In March 2014 the building was torn down. I actually still have a couple of bricks that I brought home as souvenirs. I wish I knew where they were now. It’s weird I guess, but I never truly found a home to watch movies in theaters after Studio 28. That was the place to go and afterward, it was whatever was closest to me or us when I was with friends and we wanted to go see something. It wasn’t until now, when I made the choice to write this, that I realized just how much that theater meant to me. I miss Studio 28.