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Jean Cocteau and Me

I had not intended to mention this until somewhat further down the line, when my plans were a bit more advanced, but the Santa Fe NEW MEXICAN got wind of a recent real estate transaction of mine and ran the story this morning, so the cat is now out of the bag. (The cat in this case perhaps being Jean Cocteau's original Beast? No, not really, but it's an amusing coincidence, considering my years on BEAUTY AND THE BEAST).

Anyway, I don't intend to say much here, since there is as yet not much to say... but I will fess up to basics, since I see the story is already out on the internet and I would rather not be bombarded with hundreds of "is it true?" emails.

Yes, it's true. I've bought a movie theatre.

Here it is:

cocteau1

The Jean Cocteau is a small Santa Fe art house, with a single screen and 127 seats. It was built in the early 70s as the Collective Fantasy, became the Cocteau later in that decade, went through several local owners who ran it well, and finally became part of the Trans-Lux chain. They closed it in April, 2006, when they shut down their entire chain of theaters. After that it supposedly became the site of the New Mexico Film Museum, but the museum was never funded and never had any exhibits, so that was more in theory than in practice. Aside from a few special showings for the state film commission, which used to have its offices upstairs, the theater has been dark since 2006.

Before that, however, it was one of the city's nicest film venues. It offered coffee and pastries, and had the best popcorn in town, fresh-popped with real butter and parmesan cheese. I saw a lot of movies at the Cocteau between 1979, when I moved to Santa Fe, and 2006, when it closed. I like the idea of bringing it back, better than ever.

I will not be doing it myself, of course. So please, readers, fans, don't get nuts. I am a novelist and a screenwriter, not a theatre manager, it won't be me standing at the concession stand asking if you want butter on your popcorn. My job remains the same as before: editing anthologies, creating and producing television and writing the occasional script, and... first, foremost, always... completing A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. This does not change that.

I love movies and old movie theatres, and it broke my heart to drive past the Jean Cocteau for these past seven years and see it sitting there, dark and decaying. Bringing this beloved theatre back to life is my small gesture at giving something back to Santa Fe, the community that has been my home since 1979. Might be that I will lose my shirt... but, hey, I've been very lucky, I have other shirts.

For those of you who want to read the story that broke the news, the link is here:

http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/article_11f41778-724e-5d42-9fbe-40e5b56ae400.html

We're having a press conference on Tuesday to detail our plans for the Cocteau to the local media, FYI. If anyone reading this is local media, you're welcome to attend.

More than that, I cannot say at this time.

Comments

( 82 comments )
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yacpdb
Apr. 20th, 2013 01:05 pm (UTC)
This is absolutely fantastic, sir, i wish you the best of luck. I hope one day i can do something to run again the movie theater we used to go when we were kids (it's a cold block of brick for more than two decades now).
suzan_s
Apr. 20th, 2013 02:39 pm (UTC)
Awesome. It's always heartwarming to think that someone cares enough to save pieces of our American history. Old movie theaters are fabulous. Thanks for doing this.
sabotabby
Apr. 20th, 2013 03:40 pm (UTC)
It's really great to know that on top of being a fabulous author, you are also a fabulous human being! I love old theatres. Thank you for saving this one.
Inez Russell Gomez
Apr. 20th, 2013 03:51 pm (UTC)
What time?
Is the press conference? And will it be at the Jean Cocteau?
And movie lovers of Santa Fe are so excited. What a theater.
dragonborngurl
Apr. 20th, 2013 04:41 pm (UTC)
Wonderful choice! Lucky you!
How wonderful!! I'd LOVE to have my own theater and show great film all the time. You've actually given me an idea.
:) Congrats on your splendid acquisition. You're a truly creative man. I hope you and Parris have a lot of fun with this.

I think the most intoxicating, stunning and ethereal theatrical performances I ever saw was Philip Glasses Opera set to the film of Jean Coctaeu's, La Belle et la Bête. I've never seen and anything that comes close to it's sheer perfection as an addition to an already perfect work of theatrical art. It was at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) 1995.

also, just as a note...the Weinstein Brothers (Miramax) started out by purchasing an old movie theater upstate NY.
cyberalien
Apr. 20th, 2013 04:46 pm (UTC)
Congratulations on the purchase. Glad to see that your well deserved (and long time coming) success allows you to accomplish such a great opportunity!
oortdust
Apr. 20th, 2013 05:04 pm (UTC)
This is wonderful! I know that restored theaters sometimes have trouble staying profitable. There was a 1950s deco style theater I used to go to as a kid that finally ended turning into the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse. They show second run movies, special screenings, independent movies, have live comedy, sports and season premier screenings, with food and drink.
saxster
Apr. 20th, 2013 05:23 pm (UTC)
Nostalgia
That looks like a lot of fun. Kudos to you, sir, for helping keep such places alive. We do much of that here in Austin, TX and are quite proud of our theaters. And by that I mean collectively as a city, not me as some sort of business owner, but if I ever get a chance to buy into Alamo Drafthouse, I probably would do it.



Edited at 2013-04-20 05:25 pm (UTC)
chezsci
Apr. 20th, 2013 05:37 pm (UTC)
As a film fan who has to drive many miles to get to an art house cinema I thank you, George. This is a good thing, you should be proud and film fans of Sante Fe just got an early Christmas present.
Ariel Traut
Apr. 20th, 2013 06:23 pm (UTC)
Hello George,
Talking about cinema, have you seen the new trailer (3) of Man of Steel? It's amazing!
glacier_kitty
Apr. 20th, 2013 07:01 pm (UTC)
Hey there! May I add you? I really enjoy your books :)
annulvapore
Apr. 20th, 2013 07:41 pm (UTC)
"Might be that I will lose my shirt... but, hey, I've been very lucky, I have other shirts."

i really like this line.
kjsSlc
Apr. 20th, 2013 08:43 pm (UTC)
The just adds to your growing legend. What a wonderful thing to do.
mallorys_camera
Apr. 20th, 2013 10:07 pm (UTC)
Oh, wow. My sister runs the drive-in theater in Las Vegas, New Mexico, which is approximately 50 miles north of you in the Sangre Cristo foothills. She's constantly upsetting the locals by booking arthouse movies. :-)

She's not a science fiction reader and she never watches TV so she doesn't have a clue who you are. Wouldn't it be great though if yr Cocteau Theater manager and the Fort Union Drive-in could develop some sort of synergy? :-)
bibliofile
Apr. 21st, 2013 12:27 am (UTC)
Cool! When I was younger, it was a dream to acquire a movie theater (and possibly cafe & bookstore -- the one we speculated most about was pretty big). So glad that you're maybe able to work this one into a going concern of some sort. Despite the convenience of at-home video, a big screen is always good too.
luminosity
Apr. 21st, 2013 12:44 am (UTC)
Thanks for taking care of and participating in your community, they will thank you, and I thank you.

It's only with action here and their that we can keep the cobwebs out and the dreams in.
Dominique Revelle
Apr. 21st, 2013 12:48 am (UTC)
I'm so very excited that you are bringing the Cocteau back. I've missed it when it's been gone and was positively giddy when I read the news. It was such a great place to watch movies and the fact that you are responsible somehow makes it sweeter. I will be a happy supporter, especially if you bring back that awesome popcorn.
Chad Wood
Apr. 21st, 2013 02:10 am (UTC)
Fantastic!
Reading about this improved my day. Such a cool gesture. Bravo.
Cameron Shane
Apr. 21st, 2013 04:04 am (UTC)
Wish I lived in Sante Fe
You should totally have Game of Throne weekends there where you run episodes of old seasons. Maybe a replica of the iron throne in the lobby :-D
snowbunny
Apr. 21st, 2013 04:08 am (UTC)
That's pretty damn awesome!
Alexander Mollan
Apr. 21st, 2013 01:23 pm (UTC)
"A newly formed New Mexico limited liability corporation called The Faceless Man closed on the purchase in late February, according to documents filed with the Santa Fe County Clerk."

You are one humorous man Mr. Martin!
Jack Stamm
Apr. 21st, 2013 03:26 pm (UTC)
Press Conference
Where is the press conference Tuesday. At the theater?
grrm
Apr. 21st, 2013 04:46 pm (UTC)
Re: Press Conference
Yes
superscienceser
Apr. 21st, 2013 04:19 pm (UTC)
Would love to see a late night showing of Beauty and the Beast, that show was so excellent. Perhaps a marathon of four of the best shows, decided by a vote system similar to the Hugos.
grrm
Apr. 21st, 2013 04:45 pm (UTC)
There are difficulties with showing television episodes in a theatrical setting... but who knows, sometimes difficulties can be overcome.
(no subject) - geshtarr - Apr. 21st, 2013 05:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - grrm - Apr. 21st, 2013 07:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: A possible solution for a TV show on theater - grrm - Apr. 22nd, 2013 10:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
Elizabeth LaVanture
Apr. 21st, 2013 05:48 pm (UTC)
Wonderful!
I think this is a great idea bringing that theater back to life :). And it is wonderful that you want to give something back to the community. Not many people care about giving back now a days, so thank you for that! My mother in law lives in Sante Fe now and I will be sure to check the progress of the theater from now on! Hope to visit it sometime! :)
lugajetboygirl
Apr. 21st, 2013 06:30 pm (UTC)
Congratulations, George! That totally rules.

We have a small theatre here in town that's very similar. Every Saturday night at 9pm they show the new Dr. Who episode for free. They say the money they make from concessions for that one hour pays the monthly bills. Last night the place was packed and it was so much fun to watch the episode with an audience! I love small theatres!
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