GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Movie night for Glenwood Springs residents now involves either catching a flick on the home entertainment system or a trip to a neighboring town that still has a movie house, following the recent closure of the town’s only two movie theaters.
Earlier this month, longtime Springs Theatre owner John Buxman announced he was closing the iconic, single-screen theater on Grand Avenue.
After a more than 35-year run, one of the last-surviving independently owned movie theaters is set to become the new home for the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue song-and-dance comedy theater performances.
About the same time that Buxman made his decision, the three-screen Movies in the Mall theater, located in the West Glenwood Springs Mall, also closed its doors.
Although the sign on the door still says the theater is “closed for remodeling,” there are indications the mall theater is closed for good, at least under the current ownership.
Mall management has not returned repeated phone calls from the Post Independent seeking comment during the past several weeks.
Mall owner Frank Woods also took over ownership of the movie theater in 2009, after the chain owner of the former Mall 3 Theater, Carmike Cinemas, pulled out.
A source familiar with the situation, who did not want to be named, told the Post Independent that Movies in the Mall employees were advised about a month ago that the theater would be closing, but not until sometime after the upcoming holidays.
“Then they up and closed it down immediately,” the source said.
The phone line that previously had a recorded message with the latest movie showings has been disconnected.
Among the reasons cited for the Springs’ closing, and presumably Movies in the Mall, was the looming high cost to convert from reel projectors to a digital projection system. Movie suppliers are no longer making movies available in reel format after the first of the year.
As recently as last fall, Glenwood Springs Mall Manager Sonja Davis indicated that they planned to make the digital conversion.
The closing of Glenwood Springs’ two movie theaters leaves residents with the choice of going out to catch a movie either at Rifle’s Brenden Theater, the Crystal Theatre in Carbondale or Movieland in El Jebel.
Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association director Marianne Virgili said she hopes new owners will come in and take the mall space, or open a movie theater elsewhere in town.
“I think we could definitely still support a nice theater, maybe another tri-plex or something like Rifle or El Jebel has,” Virgili said. Both the Brenden and Movieland complexes have seven screens.
“A lot of times when there’s an opportunity, someone will come in,” Virgili said.
Don’t look for the developers of one of Glenwood Springs’ other large shopping centers, Glenwood Meadows, to jump at that opportunity, though.
“The chances of that are slim to non-existent,” said Mike Maple, chief operating officer for the Dunrene Management Group in Aspen, which developed the Meadows.
Developers had considered a 10- or 12-screen movie theater complex at the Meadows where the two Marriott hotels were eventually built, and zoning would still allow for a theater, he said.
“We’d be delighted to build a theater, if it made economic sense,” Maple said. “But it’s something that just takes too much land and requires too much parking to make it feasible.”
The Meadows developers also tried to work with the city of Glenwood Springs to build a multi-use, “theater/convention center type of facility.”
“We did a market study for that also, and determined that it wasn’t economically viable,” Maple said.
“I think we could definitely still support a nice theater, maybe another tri-plex or something like Rifle or El Jebel has.”
Director, Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association