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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:


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:


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.


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Apr. 20th, 2013 02:32 am (UTC)
That's brilliant. I was head projectionist at an indie theater in Ann Arbor (the State) for seven years. So much better than a soulless megaplex.
Apr. 20th, 2013 02:49 am (UTC)
3D movies
Is it going to perform in 3D???? :D
Apr. 20th, 2013 02:53 am (UTC)
Wonderful news!
Apr. 20th, 2013 02:56 am (UTC)
Very awesome of you, George. I worked at a movie theater for over 5 years, and to be honest it was one of the best jobs I've ever had. If I could have had a family and lived off of the pay I might have stuck around for good. Good on you for giving back to the community. Theaters can be some of the classiest places in town and are great for going on adventures with friends and family. There is something magical about a good movie and unhealthy food.
Zach Chadwick
Apr. 20th, 2013 02:59 am (UTC)
Pretty awesome Mr. Martin!
Adam Minahan
Apr. 20th, 2013 03:02 am (UTC)
Wow! Reminds me of a lovely little theatre I used to attend when I lived in Chico, CA. Fond memories of watching engaging films with an intimate crowd of like-minded people.

With your tasteful touch involved, this place looks to be a must-visit when I finally decide to do a cross country road trip.
Jim Mather
Apr. 20th, 2013 03:20 am (UTC)
Santa Fe Movie House
My son and daughter in law live in Eldorado and excited about the theater possibly reopening. Maybe it's like The Last Picture Show. They all hoped you kept the name.
Bob Grahn
Apr. 20th, 2013 03:24 am (UTC)
YAY!!!! As fellow resident of Santa Fe I am thrilled you purchased the Cocteau. I saw many memorable movies there starting in my college days in the early eighties, and have shared your feelings since its closure. Would you ever consider putting some of your "toys" on public display there? That would be really cool. Also a thank you for mentioning in the acknowledgments of ADWD that jalapeno bacon was available in our town. Found it just up the road from my usual breakfast venue. Hadn't been there in too long. YUM!!! You are a true asset to our community Ser!
Apr. 20th, 2013 03:28 am (UTC)
Wow that's awesome. Very happy-making news!
Apr. 20th, 2013 03:31 am (UTC)
If I had money, that's the kind of thing I'd like to do. It's so nice to read this!
Apr. 20th, 2013 03:51 am (UTC)
That's fantastic. Congrats! I miss good old-fashioned, fresh popped and buttered popcorn at the movies, too.
Tara Abbamondi
Apr. 20th, 2013 04:02 am (UTC)
This is absolutely fantastic! Such exciting news, it's great to hear. I'm hoping for the success of you and the community to bring it back on its feet! :)
Apr. 20th, 2013 04:11 am (UTC)
Very nice. I saw that theatre in the abandoned state when I was last in Santa Fe. It looked like a place that could be marvelous - all it needed was someone to care about it. Which is now you! I hope everything goes fantastically.

- yeff
Apr. 20th, 2013 04:18 am (UTC)
That's wonderful George, congrats! When I lived in Walthamstow, London, I had to watch the beautifully restored early 20thC Granada, which had links to Hitchcock and the Beatles, rot at the hands of a Charismatic Christian Group who wanted to gut and redevelop it, thanks to an ineffectual council.
Eric Porter
Apr. 20th, 2013 04:29 am (UTC)
That's fantastic! I remember chatting with you at length at C2E2 of your love of theaters, especially the Uptown in Chicago. Congratulations!
Apr. 20th, 2013 05:43 am (UTC)
The Uptown... now there, by gods, is a THEATRE. Talk about heartbreak. Someone with billions to spend really needs to buy and restore that theatre. There's only a handful to compare to it in all of the US.
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George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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