Mountain Movie closes down

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This is the time of year when film lovers await the schedule for FallFest, Mountain Movie's seasonal "best of the rest" film festival. Instead, movie fans were greeted Friday with an announcement that the theater's doors are closed for good.

Owner Mark Green opened the theater May 23, 2002, to a packed-house for a free screening of "Lord of the Rings."

The 220-seat, single-screen theater in Ski Time Square had been empty for years when Green decided to renovate and reopen the space.

With the help of his wife, Tambra, and mother- and father-in-law, Dewetta and Bill Hutchinson, he scrubbed the floors, shampooed seat covers and installed yards of burgundy fabric into the velvet sound folds along the walls of the theater.

His goal was to keep movie tickets inexpensive -- $5 during the summer and fall and for year-round matinees. He also planned to bring independent and foreign films to the theater during spring and fall for MudFest and FallFest.

The business was popular, but when the lease for the theater space came up for renewal, Green decided it was time to move on.

Summer foot traffic through Ski Time Square has not been sufficient to keep his doors open, he said. The financial struggle was coupled with the imminent construction of Wildhorse Cinema 6.

The Wildhorse Cinema will be built on Mount Werner Road, not far from Mountain Movie's location. Theater owners Metro-Rocky Mountain Cinemas promise that the new complex will offer stadium seating, digital sound and a schedule of first-run blockbusters and select limited-run releases.

For now, Green will work at Steamboat Smokehouse in downtown Steamboat, and he imagines using his theater management skills to project programs such as Monday Night Football onto the walls of the restaurant.

"I guess you can say that I am trading popcorn for peanuts," he wrote in an e-mail Friday addressed to friends and customers announcing his decision to close the business. The Smokehouse is known for the free, unlimited peanuts it provides patrons.

--To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210

or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com

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