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Letter to Editor: Emagine Policy 'Unwelcoming' to Royal Oak Teens

Royal Oak parent finds new policy for moviegoers under 17 disappointing.

The following letter was sent to Royal Oak Patch by Sheryl Hunter, a Royal Oak resident:

Most of us remember our first dates going to the movies. 

That has been recently eliminated at the Royal Oak Emagine Theatre. 

My 16-year-old son and his girlfriend were dropped off at the Emagine for a double date, meeting their 17-year-old friends.  They were greeted by a Royal Oak Police officer at the ticket counter who informed them that they could not purchase tickets for any show after 6 p.m. without an ID showing that they are over 18. There was a misleading sign on the door that led them to understand that at least one person in the party had to be 17 or over. 

Upon calling the theatre, they said that their new policy is to allow 17 and older after 6 p.m. every night.  They must be accompanied by a parent or someone over 21 years old. 

I am incredibly disappointed that a movie theatre and bowling alley, potentially excellent entertainment venues for teens have become completely unwelcoming.  They wanted to see Les Miserable - a PG-13 movie! 

Have we really sunk to sending our Royal Oak teens to Madison Heights, John R AMC or Birmingham Palladium to see a movie?  These kids paid parking to see a movie.  I am relieved that they did not buy their tickets on-line just to be rejected. I think Emagine Theatre and Royal Oak Police should take action against the specific people causing them problems and not the Royal Oak teens that wanted to see a movie and have coffee before the 10:30 p.m. - 5 a.m. curfew.  

-Sheryl Hunter

Editor's note: Calls to managers on duty at Emagine Rochester and Emagine Woodhaven indicated those facilities enforce the policy on the Emagine Entertianment website, which reads as follows: No person 15 years old or younger will be admitted without a parent or guardian for any show beginning after 9 p.m. 

Spokesperson Ruth Daniels said Emagine Entertainment does not comment on their policies.

Royal Oak Police Chief Corrigan O'Donohue said he is aware of the new policy limiting teens not accompanied by an adult at the movie theater. However, he stated that Royal Oak Police are not involved in checking IDs or enforcing the Emagine policy. Emagine provides its own security officer.

Debbie Campbell January 27, 2013 at 01:42 PM
Read the following memo from ROPD back when Emagine expanded the drinking/dancing component of its plan of operation—The reality is Emagine is a night club that offers movies and bowling— It’s the cocktails that bring in the $$$ and Emagine obviously wants to fill the place with guests who will potentially watch the show and then drink and dance until closing time- I’m sure the management and the ROPD found it to be an unsafe-unmanageable liability nightmare to mix under-age kids with the “club crowd” in the evening hours- I’m curious that the Police Chief contradicts what you say about the RO Police Officer not allowing your son and his friends entry after 6— Are a portion of our public safety millage increase dollars being used to pay a police officer to monitor ticket sales for Emagine or not? https://www.ci.royal-oak.mi.us/portal/sites/default/files/meetings/Liquor%20Control%20Committee/2012/0712-emagine.pdf
Judy Davids (Editor) January 27, 2013 at 01:55 PM
I did not change the author's letter so I added the note from from the chief to clarity. Emagine has their own security officer. Thank you for pointing out that I didn't make that clear. I will add another sentence to the story.
The Duke of Royal Oak January 27, 2013 at 03:05 PM
I do not go to the movies in the evening because of the obnoxious behavior of movie patrons with their phones, talking to each other etc. This is commited by all age's, theatre owners need to have ushers in the theatre during the entire run of the movie. This scenario is due to lack of social manners in all aspects of life. And what would one expect when once again you have a liqour establishment thrown in the mix! With the alcohol saturated downtown this should not be suprising folks. At least E-Magine is taking action. The City Comissioners need to stop approving alcohol establishments and the expansion of current alcohol business's. Unfortunatley it seems too late.
Laura Harrison January 27, 2013 at 04:35 PM
I know I am older than most of the evening Emagine movie goers and I stopped going to movies several years ago, but the reasons were the same. The audiences were disruptive. I agree that ushers should be added to remove the disturbers, be they kids, teens or adults. Customers pay good money to see a movie and if the right venue is not provided they will take their money and go elsewere. Emagine is a private business and the owner has to look at the bottom line. 6p seems a little early to me. I would suggest 8p.
A Grzeca January 27, 2013 at 05:23 PM
I applaud the Emagine for enforcing this policy. The teenage crowds on the weekends monopolized the limited number of officers available in our city at any given time. The reality is that the majority of the people causing the problems were dropped off and ignored by their parents/guardians who accept no responsibility for their child's behavior. The police do not have the resources to "round up" dozens and dozens of kids each weekend.
THEODORE GIBSON January 27, 2013 at 05:50 PM
Today's kids are too fat to be sitting down watching a movie and eating popcorn. They should be out getting some exercise (and bowling doesn't count as a real sport).
DReeber January 27, 2013 at 06:25 PM
What does _____ American mean, Easydude? I think we all know. Shame on you!
Diane W Drane January 27, 2013 at 09:53 PM
"Downriver" crowd???? I am from Allen Park and do not appreciate that comment!!!
Oaker3863 January 28, 2013 at 12:38 AM
Considering the actions of some of my classmates, the policy is not too surprising. However, also considering the presence of alcoholic beverages, this was inevitable, that six PM is the cut off is mildly disappointing, considering many school related activities can stretch to six, like robotics, or take place at or after that time, as it is with many sports. Believe it or not though, not all of us teenagers between 16 and 19 are secretive savages, waiting for the watchful vision of our guardians to falter. Some of are in fact annoyed by cell phones and do observe proper etiquette. Now Emagine is a private company and therefore they do have the right to set such rules for minors. There is still the Main Art Theater, and considering most of the content put out by modern Hollywood, I'd rather, and do head there. The issue is the many, the drinking consumers, vs. the young, the victor in the mind of the provider is the drinker of course, it's more money and that is the goal of Emagine, not the overall betterment of the community. Ushers are a viable solution, but remember, Emagine would have to pay for more staff, and how does that stack up against the revenue from the teenagers who do come in? In their analysis, if ushers were considered, not enough. In regards to "elitism" from Emagine, yeah, that's their MO, look at their "About Us" page. "Recognized innovator", recognized as "Best theater" by the DFP for several years. A total of 7 locations, doesn't get much more elite.
drs January 28, 2013 at 01:22 AM
I agree 100% with you Beth. It is sad that a few kids had to ruin it for all the good kids out there. And Col. Duke, do you remember being a teenager and not being able to go to the movies without your mom and dad? Oh well, my 17 year old and his friends went and gave their money to the Birmingham theaters.
m.h.partlan January 28, 2013 at 01:42 AM
kelley, if you are fearful of teen aged "jackals" in your neighborhood theater, try to imagine them AFTER they have been turned away from the theater. Roaming the town, or even the neighborhoods that surround the theater. Angry people use poor judgement. It is sad to say that this policy may actually incite acts of delinquency in our community.
m.h.partlan January 28, 2013 at 01:46 AM
i recommend a boycot of the theater by any and all who find their new teen curfew bigoted and discriminatory. that way, the non breeding elitists can enjoy their movie & bowling in fearful peace.
m.h.partlan January 28, 2013 at 01:56 AM
pardon sir, or madam. i am the parent of one who was turned away. the reward given was to be a double date to a pg 13 film of a broadway classic. the reward was for getting through mid term exams at royal oak high school. i am sure that you do not recall the stress involved during mid term exams or perhaps you just do not like young people. either way i DO know that my child DOES know how to behave in public. that has been one of MY primary objectives as a parent. to turn out a well adjusted pleasant respectful person. this is my community. the community i chose to raise my family in. emagine billed itself as a family based community entertainment center. i hope they go the way of the furniture store and car dealership just north of their facility. out of business.
m.h.partlan January 28, 2013 at 02:00 AM
feel free to check the city of royal oak web sight regarding delinquency and curfew. it may be enlightening.
m.h.partlan January 28, 2013 at 02:09 AM
i will not give them another cent of my hard earned cash. There are plenty of other theaters that do not discriminate. I think teens should be able to go on a date to the movies. I think anyone who believes in fairness and equality (age, sex, special needs or race) must see this as the first step. Vote with your wallet or pocket book.
Susan Schuldeis January 28, 2013 at 02:31 AM
Once again all are punished for the sins of a few. My daughter and her boyfriend attempted to go on a date at the AMC at Great Lakes Crossing but were turned away because they were under 18 and it was after 7. Instead of being at a movie they were left to wander around. I too feel that the opportunity to go to a movie while still in high school would have never happened given that she had sport or theater practice, school meetings and homework or dinner with her parents
THEODORE GIBSON January 28, 2013 at 03:58 AM
m.h. You gave me an idea - I will go back now to see if it improves the ambiance. I haven't been in almost a year.
THEODORE GIBSON January 28, 2013 at 03:59 AM
You make too much sense.
Bob January 28, 2013 at 02:21 PM
I agree with both Beth and the Colonel in this post-response. Yes, it's possible. LOL
Bob January 28, 2013 at 02:22 PM
Well said m.h. The path to Hell is paved with good intentions.
Bob January 28, 2013 at 02:24 PM
I like the reserved seating. Great feature at the Emagine. I go to the movies on rare occasions. When I go, I want a good seat.
Bob January 28, 2013 at 02:25 PM
That was not well said m.h.
Bob January 28, 2013 at 02:25 PM
hey what?
Bob January 28, 2013 at 02:28 PM
So, an R-rated movie is appropriate for a seven year old? -OR- Right, because you should be at least seven years of age to attend an R-rated movie on your own.
Bob January 28, 2013 at 02:35 PM
I have always believed that parents have amnesia about their younger years. Ask any fortysomething parent about the things they got into or were aware of as a twelve year old. They will go through spasms as they push it deep into the recesses of their mind. Then they utter a weak veiled no. Then again, some of these kids would do better if they stuck to tormenting mall cops instead.
Maria Rose January 28, 2013 at 09:18 PM
Fantastic statement.
Michelle Wirsu January 31, 2013 at 07:06 PM
Hard to believe there is this much comment on a private business making a policy that it believes in. Ok, if you don't agree, don't go there. Period. I avoid many places that I don't like the patrons or policies and I don't make it the problem of the entire community. It's my choice, and everyone can do what they want. The world is not the same as when we were kids, thats a fact. This is just another example of that. Remember when we would get dropped off at the mall and wander around there for hours, not buying anything except a pop maybe. Now you can't do that anymore. I don't think its safe to do that anymore anyway. There is a change since we were kids. How many kids have paper routes or babysit. Get over it! Times are changing, and take your movie going business elsewere. And laugh to yourselve when the policy gets changed BACK if it affects the bottom line for them.
s.f.walker February 01, 2013 at 07:30 AM
I understand your point of view. It is extremely disappointing to have a movie theatre in your hometown and not be able to attend it. Teens (as I once did) should be able to go to a show that is prior to 8pm. My son (a Royal Oak resident) was also turned away from the theatre as it was after 6pm. However, secretly I was relived. I had to argue with him about going but finally caved in. Emagine saved me my worry. Have you picked your child up recently from Emagine in the evening? If so, you would not have failed to notice the hordes of teens obviously not from RO literally packed in the foyer and milling around the entrance as well as a couple RO police cars. These kids were doing nothing but hanging out preventing those who wish to partake of the entertainment from doing so peacefully. If Emagine needs to put in place a policy that will allow other patrons to attend without having to fight through thongs of youth or deal with bad manners exhibited by many than so be it. I appreciate the fact that they are allowing the police to deal with more serious matters and not have to waste their time monitering the behavior of unruly teens. I am sorry the actions of groups cause hardship for the ones who are more mannerly but until the time society takes a good hard look at themselves and teaches their children manners and courteous behaviour the rest will suffer.
THEODORE GIBSON February 02, 2013 at 03:17 AM
s.f. walker (And everyone else, really): What do you mean: "hordes of teens obviously not from RO?" Does that mean they were all wearing varsity jackets from Birmingham or Bloomfield Hills? Otherwise how would you ascertain that they are not from Royal Oak? (wink, wink) Everyone on this forum knows exactly what you mean. I assume that the vast majority of us would reach the same conclusion you did, myself included. I'm not passing judgement on you - you are stating the obvious. My assumption is that if these were kids from Birmingham or Bloomfield Hills, the rule would never have been enacted. Am I right?
Joan February 02, 2013 at 04:31 PM
Who cares where they're from? The fact of the matter is there is a problem.

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