Boulder is blooming with arthouse cinemas this spring. In addition to the offerings at CU-Boulder’s International Film Series and the revamped Dairy Center’s Boedecker Theatre, the Canyon Theater at the Boulder Public Library's main branch will now host independent first-run cinema screenings three nights a week beginning Thursday, February 25.
“We wanted to activate that space,” says Shelby Arnold, community development-manager at Downtown Boulder Inc., the nonprofit that promotes business and tourism in the city’s central business district. “We wanted an opportunity to keep people downtown with an entertainment option.”
The comfortable, 201-seat venue has hosted film and other arts events over the years. Filmmaker, musician and Stan Brakahge collaborator Joel Haertling has screened free films there for decades in his Cinema Program; more recently, Boulder Library Foundation founder Doris Hass has hosted free Sunday screenings there as well.
“I am not sure where [Haertling] is with future bookings. My understanding is that both the Cinema Program and Doris's Sunday shows will continue,” Arnold says.
What will be known as the BoulderArt Cinema plans two screenings a night, with separate admissions for each screening. “The new state-of-the-art DCP projector was secured and purchased by the Cinema, with support from our film-industry connections," Arnold notes. "No small feat, but a great investment for the films we're hoping to show.”
The Seeds Library Cafe, located adjacent to the venue, will sell food, “and we also got a liquor license,” says Arnold, adding that Avery Brewing and Bookcliff Vineyards will both provide product for sale. Downtown Boulder is booking films at the Art Cinema with the aid of Bill Banowsky, owner of the growing Violet Crown independent cinema chain. The first weekend’s offerings include Trumbo, the documentary Amy and The Danish Girl.
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Boulder is known for its movie-mad citizens, but can three specialty cinemas survive in a city of 120,000?
“We see them as partners,” says Arnold of the other cinema programs. “We’re not trying to directly compete with them. The IFS has a different flavor, and the timing is really different – we’re downtown, it’s on the weekend.” Among other possibilities, she suggests that the Art Cinema could schedule such events as a Thursday-night author series.
“I think our big value-add is the downtown location,” concludes Arnold. “Walk around and visit shops, grab a bite to eat, enjoy a Colorado sunset over the Flatirons and see a movie! It's the full experience.”
The Boulder Art Cinema opens at the Canyon Theater of the Boulder Public Library, 1001 Arapahoe Street, Boulder, on Thursday, February 25. For tickets and information, visit boulderdowntown.com/boulder-art-cinema.