Skico’s Crown says he’s interested in Isis |

Skico’s Crown says he’s interested in Isis

John Colson

The owner of a theater chain in the eastern United States said Thursday that he would be “interested” in exploring the idea of running the Isis Theater in Aspen, which closed its doors this week due to financial problems.

Dan Crown, a member of the Chicago-based family that owns the Aspen Skiing Co., owns and operates the Crown Theaters chain, primarily on the eastern seaboard.

He said he had not talked recently with local developer Sam Houston, spokesman for the group that owns the building that houses the Isis Theater, but noted that he had talked with Houston once several years ago about the idea of running the Isis.

“At that point, we weren’t interested in going that far afield,” he said, noting that his company now runs about 90 theaters scattered around the East Coast. He also said that, by early in 2001, his firm will have opened an additional 60 theaters, including two in the Midwest.

Asked whether taking over theaters that have been closed would be something his company might do, he replied, “It is, yes, absolutely.”

And, he added, there might be even greater interest because of his family’s existing connections with the Roaring Fork Valley.

“Aspen, obviously, because of the ties … if Sam wanted to give me a call, I’d be more than happy to talk with him,” said Crown from his office in New York City.

The Isis Theater, a five-plex on Hopkins Avenue in downtown Aspen, closed its doors permanently after the last show on Thursday. Negotiations between its management company and the building’s owners failed to produce an agreement to keep the theater running.

The movie house is the latest in a string of theaters that had been operating on the same site for decades.

The current Isis had been open about one week shy of a year, following a two-year hiatus during which Houston’s development group gutted and completely rebuilt the facility, retaining only the facade and one wall of the century-old building.

The ousted management company, Resort Theaters of America, is in bankruptcy proceedings and faced a 60-day deadline to straighten out its business affairs. That deadline expires on Monday.

RTA is one of numerous theater companies that are in financial trouble, due to a combination of overly aggressive expansion plans and a couple of lackluster years in movie attendance.

The officers of RTA had been hoping to reorganize the business and keep the Isis operating, at least through Christmas and New Year’s, according to Isis manager Sharon McWilliams.

But RTA spokesman Richard Lawrence announced on Wednesday that no deal had been reached. He confirmed that the Isis is the only theater in the RTA chain that is closing down, for now.

Houston declined to comment on the future of the building on Wednesday, and could not be reached for further comment on Thursday.

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