Movies ready to roll at the Isis
It’s been almost two years since moviegoers last flocked to Aspen’s Isis Theater.
A new, five-screen theater, which has been under construction for all of that time, will debut tonight with all five projectors blazing. To celebrate the reopening, audience members will be treated to free popcorn tonight, Saturday and Sunday.
The theater’s official grand opening will be some time in January, said manager Craig Worth. But for now, Worth and the theater’s owners just want to get under way.
“We just want to get the place open, and go from there,” Worth said.
Dominic and Kitty Linza, who had owned and operated the old, one-screen Isis since the middle 1960s, will be in the lobby to shake hands this weekend. The Linzas bowed out and sold the establishment in 1997.
In the the building Thursday, activity was everywhere. An electrician on a ladder worked on a wall fixture in one theater, while a workman sanded a railing and another cut carpeting on the floor in another. Teeming with painters, carpet installers, cleaning people, electricians and finish carpenters, the Isis didn’t appear as though opening for business tonight was a sure thing.
But all the structural and mechanical workings are in place, as are most of the decorative aspects. With the burning of some midnight oil, the theater will be ready. The Milk Duds are in the glass case, and the soda machine is ready to bubble.
Beyond the finishing touches, the theater’s technical aspects may reveal the need for some minor tweaking. The first time theater employees fired up the popcorn machine, it set off the theater’s smoke detectors, said project architect Geoffrey Lester.
The Isis has grown from a 340-seat, single-screen movie house to a multiplex that will seat about 730, Lester said. To do that, the building has been expanded to the east toward the Aspen Fire Station, but more importantly, he said, the project involved digging 30 feet underground.
Everything in the building, it seems, has an Egyptian motif. The two-inch-thick sound-damping panels on the theater walls are cut into large rectangles to resemble massive stonework. The carpet is custom woven in brown with yellow and blue line drawings of sphinxes and movie cameras. Restrooms feature real granite vanity tops and faux stone stall dividers.
The lobby, beneath the upstairs projection rooms, features Burmese teakwood railings with custom ironwork and etched glass, all done by local craftspeople.
“One thing we tried to do is use as many local artisans as possible,” Lester said. The teak, by the way, is from a tree farm, not a rain forest, he said.
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The city of Aspen is contributing $1 million to a CDOT project that will see concrete instead of asphalt at the roundabout into town.