Court helps pave way for Isis deal
May 23, 2002
The sale of equipment that will allow Aspen’s Isis Theatre to reopen was approved Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Los Angeles.
The court authorized Resort Theaters of America Inc., which formerly operated the local movie house, to sell its Isis assets – namely the seats in the theater and projection equipment that was removed from the Isis.
The Isis LLC, a partnership that owns the theater, offered to purchase the seats from RTA for $28,000. Rocky Mountain Resort Cinemas, based in Idaho, offered to buy the projection, sound and concession equipment for $150,000.
Because RTA has filed for bankruptcy, the sales required court approval.
“We’re very pleased with the court’s decision,” said Marshall Smith, president of Rocky Mountain Resort Cinemas. “That was a big hurdle.”
Smith and the Isis owners confirmed this week they hope to finalize a lease arrangement shortly that will allow RMRC to operate the Hopkins Avenue theater, which has sat vacant for more than a year.
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“This is a business deal. I can’t divulge what’s next,” Smith said yesterday. “We’ll be working on this in the next day or two, arduously.”
Smith said he is likely to be in Aspen sometime next week. He is shooting for a June 21 reopening of the Isis and said he is already thinking about movies he’d like to show when the lights go down and the first images flicker on the screens of the newly revived movie house.
First, though, he’ll have to recover the screens and projectors from storage in Palm Desert, Calif., truck them back to Aspen and have them re-installed.
And there’s the matter of finalizing the lease for the theater, which closed when RTA pulled its operation out of the Isis in December 2000, citing mounting financial losses. The company filed for bankruptcy in October 2000.
If Smith’s company can re-open the Isis, it will be the second revival of sorts for Aspen’s oldest movie theater, which first opened in 1915.
Local developer Sam Houston and his partners purchased the Isis from its former longtime operators, Dominic and Kitty Linza, in 1997. The new owners spent two years and about $10.2 million converting the funky, old theater into a state-of-the-art, five-screen venue. The renovated theater debuted in December 1999 under the operation of RTA, which had entered into a long-term lease to run the Isis.
While nothing is definite until a new lease is signed, Houston expressed hope Wednesday that Aspenites will soon be watching movies at the theater again.
“I always intended the Isis to be a theater. I’d be very happy if it works out to be that,” he said. “All I can hope is that the citizens of Aspen go to the movies – a lot – so it can be a theater.”
The Isis remains for sale for $13.3 million. While the proposed lease with Rocky Mountain Resort Cinemas is for all five auditoriums in the Isis, a buyer could convert the ground floor to a retail use, according to Heidi Houston, a member of the Isis LLC and one of three brokers who are marketing the property.