Silver screen goes dark in Vail |

Silver screen goes dark in Vail

Edward Stoner
Vail correspondent
and Aspen Times Staff

VAIL ” Aspenites who are anxious for the reopening of the Isis Theatre next month after a remodeling project wraps up should take heart ” Vail’s last cinema fittingly showed “The Last Picture Show” on Wednesday and then went dark. The resort won’t have a movie theater again until late 2009.

The Crossroads Cinema in Vail showed its final film Wednesday; next month the building will be torn down to make way for the Solaris project, which will include three screens. But, it won’t be done for more than two years.

Vail’s Cascade Cinema closed in early April following the Vail Film Festival. The cinema is being renovated into condos.

The closures ” which have a somewhat familiar ring in Aspen ” weren’t unexpected for Steve Lindstrom, who ran the movie theaters in Vail for many years and still operates theaters in Edwards and Eagle.

“The day we opened in Riverwalk in 1995 was the beginning of the end for the Vail theaters ” both Cascade and Crossroads,” he said.

Locals were moving downvalley and Vail was changing from a community to a resort, he said.

But he said he’s hopeful that the theaters at Solaris will be successful and they will attract locals from downvalley to a renewed “commercial district” in Vail.

“People say they’re going to miss it, but they’re the same folks who haven’t been coming to the movies for the last few years,” he said. “Who knows if they’ll really miss it.”

The Vail Film Festival will continue next year, screening movies at hotel ballrooms and perhaps at the Vail Mountain School auditorium, said Sean Cross, a director of the festival.

“I think it should work out fine,” he said.

Still, the temporary disappearance of theaters is disappointing, he said.

“It would have been great if they could have staggered it and held onto Cascade until the new Solaris was built,” he said. “But it looks like that’s not the case.”

Kaye Ferry, a member of the advisory board of the Vail Film Festival and executive director of the Vail Chamber and Business Association, said visitors depend on the theaters to give them something to do at night.

“Tragedy is the best word,” she said.

Aspen has been through its own moviehouse dramas ” watching the historic Isis Theatre sell to new owners who converted it to a state-of-the-art, five-screen cinema that closed after a year, when its operator pulled out. The Isis eventually reopened, but went on the market, sparking fears that it would be sold and converted to some other use. The concerns intensified when the town’s other theater, Stage 3, closed last spring and that property was sold to new owners who are pursuing its redevelopment.

The Isis was ultimately preserved in a purchase deal involving the city, Isis Group LLC and Aspen Film, though one of the ground floor theaters is being renovated to retail space to help finance its purchase. The theater is closed for the remodeling work, leaving Aspenites with only an occasional movie at the Wheeler Opera House unless they drive downvalley to take in a flick.

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