movieland

A sign near Movieland 7 theater in El Jebel promises a reopening of the venue on June 18.

Since last fall, Movieland 7’s marquee along Highway 82 in El Jebel has said the seven-screen theater was temporarily closed but that it would reopen soon.

After months of uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the theater will officially reopen on June 18.

“We’ve been slowly reopening our theaters as product has become available,” Joe Masher, Bow Tie Cinemas chief operating officer, said Monday. “During the pandemic, what happened is that movies got pushed off the calendar.”

According to Masher, reshowing classic films last year like “The Goonies,” “Jurassic Park,” “Jaws,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Back to the Future” did not generate enough tickets sales, forcing Bow Tie Cinemas, which operates 18 movie theaters across six states — Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Virginia — to completely shut down during most of the COVID-19 crisis.

Movieland 7, which first opened in 1991, has been closed since Nov. 2 due to the pandemic and its reopening was never guaranteed. Masher said declining COVID-19 cases, significant community interest in seeing the theater reopen and the upcoming release of “F9,” “Black Widow,” “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” “The Suicide Squad,” and other films expected to generate significant revenue this summer persuaded Bow Tie Cinemas to reopen Movieland 7 sooner rather than later.

“July 23 there is a new ‘Hotel Transylvania’ movie and another M. Night Shyamalan movie called ‘Old’ that looks … really, really good,” Masher said of other movies coming out later this year. “Because of the strong performances of the movies, the studios are keeping the calendar pretty steady right now.” 

As part of its consent agenda on Feb 23, the Basalt Town Council even approved a formal letter of support in favor of Movieland 7’s reopening.

“Locals and visitors alike have approached councilmembers expressing their sorrow at the potential permanent closure of the theater, and the hole that would leave in the community,” Basalt Mayor Bill Kane wrote in his letter of support on behalf of the council to Bow Tie Cinemas CEO Ben Moss.

“We understand the great toll the pandemic has taken on the industry, but hope that Movieland would hang on long enough to remain a presence in the midvalley.”

According to Masher, Movieland 7’s entire staff will wear face coverings and guests will select their seats when they purchase their tickets online or in person. The movie theater will reopen at full capacity and mask-wearing for customers will be optional.

Masher said signage will ask guests who have not been vaccinated to wear a mask while not actively eating or drinking. He made clear that the theater would not be verifying proof of vaccination.

Despite a plethora of streaming services now offering movies for people to watch at home, Masher expressed confidence that people will return to the cinema this summer.

“Studios know that the best way they can make money is to have an exclusive theatrical run prior to hitting a secondary market like streaming, home video or anything like that,” Masher said. “It’s an American cultural institution that will carry on.”

Matthew Bennett is a reporter for the Aspen Daily News. He can be reached at: matthew@aspendailynews.com