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.