In a blow to the local economy and entertainment scene, Glenwood Springs lost its only two movie theaters in September, leaving avid movie-goers with the choice of a drive several miles east or west to catch their favorite flicks on the big screen.
Longtime Springs Theatre owner John Buxman announced in early September that he would be closing the iconic, single-screen Springs Theater in the 900 block of Grand Avenue instead of forking over $70,000 for a required conversion to a new digital projection system.
Buxman had operated the movie house for 26 years, though the Springs had been a downtown landmark for some 35-plus years dating back to the 1970s.
A short-time after the Springs closed, it also became apparent that there was more to the story behind the “closed for remodeling” sign on the door at Movies in the Mall, located in the Glenwood Springs Mall on Highway 6 in West Glenwood.
The three-screen theater never did reopen, and was eventually gutted and cleared for a future new tenant to take over the space.
One of the reasons for the theater closings was an announcement by movie suppliers that they would no longer be making movies available in film reel format after the first of the year. That left theaters across the country to either convert to digital or shut down.
One other independently owned local movie house, the Crystal Theatre in Carbondale, raised money from the its loyal customers and the larger community to keep its doors open. The multi-screen Movieland complex in El Jebel and Brenden Theater in Rifle both also have digital projection systems.
Loss of the big screen in downtown Glenwood was a gain for local stage theater, though, as Buxman signed a deal for the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue to remodel and take over the old Springs space for its dinner theater performances.
Vaudeville Revue owner John Goss spruced up the place and installed a vintage 1918 Wurlitzer photo player piano as one of the latest additions to the show, which reopened in the new space for its holiday run the day after Thanksgiving.
The Vaudeville show had been staged at the Masonic Lodge on Colorado Avenue since it began four-and-a-half years ago.