Theater to preview two ski flicks before Thanksgiving opening

By Taylor Anderson
Big Sky Weekly Assistant Editor

Three years ago Scott Fisher and Sally Patrick had a pretty wild idea. They were going to open the first ever movie theater in Big Sky.

It was the beginning of what has proven to be a devastating national recession that would deeply impact the town, but they were determined to make it happen.

They talked with other theater operators in resort towns like the Isis in Apsen and the Nugget in Telluride. They started drafting business plans and ideas for movies they’d play. And they planned.

Now, after counting down the days until they open the doors to the Lone Peak Cinema, Fisher and Patrick can only sit back, relax and hope that everything goes well.

“It’s always a scary time to be opening a business,” Patrick said on a Monday while standing among construction workers and employees in the unfinished theater. “You can draft a plan and do all this stuff, but you can really only wait and see and hope it goes well.”

Patrick spoke with frequent smile and excited voice as she paced the theater five days before the first movies—two ski movies playing consecutive nights—were set to hit the big screen.

The two theaters, seating 80 in one and 120 in the other, will play Hollywood movies during the busier summer and winter seasons, but Patrick said she’ll always be open for input, and has plans to keep the community involved in every aspect in the theater.

The bigger theater will be equipped with a stage for rent for events like Ophir School plays and Big Sky Arts Council and Big Sky Institute guest speakers.

It’s about community

The theater has been planned to integrate the community and act as an open and welcoming venue for visitors.

“We wanted an old-time kind of theater,” Patrick said. “I want this to be a small town theater where it’s like ‘Hey John, I know you want a medium Coke and popcorn.’”

The theater’s box office, contrary to other theaters, is set back in the lobby rather than at the front door, which Patrick hopes will be more inviting for visitors. The lobby’s tall ceiling is graced with chandelier and there’s a fireplace greeting visitors as they walk in.

She said everything they’ve done has been a part of trying to integrate the community with the theater.

“For this to be successful we need help from the community,” Patrick said. “In turn, we want to help support the community.”

The theater is also in the midst of the application process to receive a state liquor license.

Patrick and her fiancé Fisher, both self-proclaimed ‘ski bums’, went to business school in Boulder, Colo., where they started planning.

They knew the town needed more in the light of nighttime entertainment, and the best part of all: “It’s open at night, so we can ski all day,” Fisher and Patrick say.

Fisher is out the early season with a knee injury, so he’ll likely be overseeing any daytime activities in the theater, along with the couple’s four employees.

Both theaters will be open for two showings each night, around 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Monday–Thursday. They will keep the same schedule for the weekends with a late matinee showing around 4 p.m.

The theater will open Saturday Nov. 19 at 8 p.m. and Sunday Nov. 20 at 5 p.m. for showings of Matchstick’s Attack of La Niña and Teton Gravity Research’s One For the Road. The grand opening will be Thanksgiving weekend.

As for potential impacts on the town: “It’s great, you can have an actual date night in Big Sky” without having to just go to the bar.