Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit, Breckenridge, Colorado
The Speakeasy movie theater in Breckenridge is only 14 years old — young by Breckenridge standards — but this
year a tide of changing technology and a new era in the movie business
threatened to leave the town's only movie theater behind.
tucked in the basement of a 100-year-old schoolhouse, faced closure when
Hollywood announced plans to convert to a new digital format, ending the days of
film projection for theaters across the country.
completely digital in their distribution, which means all small theaters have to
… convert or die,” said Karin Litzmann, owner and operator of the Speakeasy for
the last four years. “Every small theater in America is faced with this choice
and it's really expensive so a lot of them are being forced to close.”
Unable to come up with the money to change her system over, Litzmann
would have had to shut her doors as well if help had not arrived at the perfect
moment in the form of a major town renovation project.
the Summit County government joined forces last year to restore the Old CMC
building, which houses the Speakeasy, as a renovated space for a library,
community center and digital movie theater.
The conversion to digital
will be included in the renovation, allowing the community theater to return to
its former glory at the end of a nearly two-year closure, which began
Members of the Breckenridge Town Council prioritized theater's
conversion — expected to cost $183,000 — as part of the project, saying the
theater was an asset for the community that they did not want to lose.
“This council and the council before it and the council before that all
seem to have valued the Speakeasy that the town really wants to embrace and
nurture,” Breckenridge Mayor John Warner said.
“If our community wanted
to have a first-run film, the only way to do that is ultimately to end up with a
digital projection room. This council really thinks that's important.”
The Speakeasy said a temporary goodbye to its patrons with a pizza party
Friday night and a showing of Casablanca, it's last feature film presentation
before it reopens after the renovation. Crowds packed the small theater for the
The party included a presentation by Warner on the history and
future of the theater space as well as a silent auction to support the
The estimated $7.4 million cost of the building upgrade will
be split between the town and the county and supplemented with private
For Litzmann, the closure will mean an extended vacation,
which she said she plans to spend traveling.
“I'm buying a backpack and
I'm going to see parts of the world I haven't seen,” she said. “It will
definitely be a nice break and it's great that I have something positive to look
forward to. It's not just time off, but something really wonderful to come back
to Breckenridge for.”
Opened in the late 1990s, the Speakeasy plays up
its historic location in both name and décor, with an interior dedicated to the
old-time glamour of an earlier era in the film industry.
lounge is cozy and dated, the walls are papered with movie posters and
hand-painted renderings of Hollywood legends and the lone auditorium packs only
a few dozen seats, flanking a red carpet.
The transition to digital will
impact that image in a way. Conversion will mean cleaner film projection,
comparable to the difference between vinyl and compact discs.
be crisper, sharper and maybe not as rich a medium,” said Litzmann, who spent 20
years editing movies and began her career working with actual film. “It's kind
of sad for me. I'm old school that way.”
The renovated theater will
feature an upgraded auditorium, snack bar and restrooms.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News