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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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Anthony DeMarco
Apr. 20th, 2013 04:40 am (UTC)
the lowes at journal square
George I am glad you are doing this. As a Bayonne guy I'm sure you saw plenty of movies during your youth at the movie theater at Journal Square. Well a few years ago they re-opened it for movies again. It's run by volunteers and only shows movies one weekend per month but it is an incredible experience. People will thank you for doing it. Old movie theaters rule.
Apr. 20th, 2013 05:46 am (UTC)
Re: the lowes at journal square
Which theatre is that? The Stanley? Showing movies again? That's great. That was another gorgeous theatre. There used to be three big movie theaters at Journal Square, the Stanley, the Loews, and the State, but I think only the Stanley survives.

Of course, as a Bayonne kid, I have fond memories of the movie theaters of my youth... the DeWitt, the Lyceum, the Plaze (what a rat pit, but I loved it)... even the Victory, closed during most of my lifetime, but I did see one movie there. All gone now.
Re: the lowes at journal square - Anthony DeMarco - Apr. 21st, 2013 06:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 20th, 2013 05:55 am (UTC)
Congrats On The Theatre!
Hey George--- You might not remember me personally, but I am the son of David Peckinpah. I remember you, my Dad, and Howard Gordon were all the writers for Beauty and The Beast in the 80s. I would come to visit the office sometimes and that was my first real experience on a set. (Very exciting for me).
Anyways, I just wanted to say hello (if u read this) and congratulations on all ur very well deserved success. My Father would be SO happy to see, if he was still alive today.
Apr. 20th, 2013 05:57 am (UTC)
I love that movie theater. I'm really happy to hear someone is going to try and do something with it. :)
Apr. 20th, 2013 06:14 am (UTC)
You could start hosting the Game of Thrones season premieres. Let them come to YOU for a change. All the actors are too afraid you're going to kill them to say no. But hmm, there's more than 127 characters on the show, isn't there?
Apr. 20th, 2013 06:18 am (UTC)
wow! This is such a great thing to do for your community. I would love to ouwn a movie theatre! Good for you! x
Mindy Tran
Apr. 20th, 2013 06:54 am (UTC)
aww thats nice. im happy for u and back to my dragons questions, if you said dragons can live for hundreds of years. u ever consider writing a whole generations novel for song of ice and fire. like if danny have kids and her kids have kids. i mean i have a whole comic collections that sometimes the stories go through 5 generations. its epic !
Apr. 20th, 2013 08:53 am (UTC)
Oh. You're *wonderful*. If I ever get to Santa Fe I'm going to go to your movie theatre!
Apr. 20th, 2013 09:02 am (UTC)
What an Odd Coincidence
One of the top items on my "bucket list" has been to open an old-school theater. The stage theater in my hometown of Northville, MI used to show classic movies every weekend in the spring, and it was such an amazing treat to see movies like "American Graffiti" and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" on the big screen with a full house. The Castro Street Theater here in SF does the same thing every day, and it is wonderful. There are so many films that deserve to be seen by today's audiences on the big screen, and I hope that someday I can make that happen.
Gbor Fekete
Apr. 20th, 2013 09:04 am (UTC)
Good luck
Mr. Marting I would like to wish you good luck for making the movie theatre working again!
Apr. 20th, 2013 09:56 am (UTC)
That's wonderful.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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George R.R. Martin
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