Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It's no longer Ski Time

Ketchum theater closes

Express Staff Writer

The Ski Time 2 Cinemas in Ketchum will close at the end of the final movie on Sunday, Sept. 21, according to officials with Metropolitan/Rocky Mountain Cinemas.

The closure coincides with the expiration of the company's lease in the Cinema Square Condos building. Nothing is yet planned for future use of the space.

The movie chain is part of the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Theatres Corp., which also owns theaters in Park City, Aspen and Steamboat Springs, as well as Canmore, Whistler and Squamish, British Colombia. Metropolitan Theatres Corp. is a privately held company owned by the Corwin family since 1923. The company also owns Big Wood 4 in Hailey, which opened in 2005.

The president of Metropolitan/Rocky Mountain Cinemas, David Corwin, said the theater has been losing money since Big Wood 4 opened.

"There was significant impact on the theaters in Ketchum," he said.

Corwin hopes to eventually expand Big Wood south into where Chi-Chi's restaurant was located.

Ski Time opened during Christmas week 1998 beneath the Magic Lantern Cinemas after a legal battle between the owners of each theater, Gerry Kingen and Rick Kessler, respectively.

"The original concept was to have a restaurant on ground floor and cinema on the second," Kessler said.

But due to legal issues regarding the lease and the construction, Kingen took over Magic Lantern. During the protracted litigation, Marshall Smith, a theater owner from Wyoming who now lives in Hailey, came in as owner/operator of Magic Lantern. At the same time, plans were made to build two additional screening rooms downstairs. In 1998, Kessler prevailed in the Idaho Supreme Court and won his property back. Smith took over Ski Time and in 2005 Metropolitan took over the operation.

"This was only one of two instances in the U.S. in which competing cinemas operated in the same building," Kessler said.

Smith ended his relationship with Metropolitan last spring.

The Cinema Square Condos building is owned by Kessler, John Blackburn and Sandy Blackburn.

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