BIG SKY – Lone Peak Cinema isn’t your ordinary movie theater. On a quiet Wednesday evening, two men enjoy a post-work beer at the theater’s bar with no intention of seeing a movie, and gradually multiply into a group of six as they are joined by other locals looking for a noisy bar scene alternative.
Two women arrive in a flurry to buy the first advance tickets for Warren Miller’s “Here, There and Everywhere,” which was screened on Wednesday, Nov. 23. Showing a ski film the day before Thanksgiving and opening day on the mountain was how Scott and Sally Fisher opened Lone Peak Cinema five years ago in November 2011, and has remained a tradition ever since.
Scott and Sally met in business school at University of Colorado Boulder. Born and raised in Vail, Colorado, Scott grew up on the slopes but it was Sally—for whom visiting her family’s home in Aspen from Chattanooga, Tennessee, was a much-anticipated treat—who reignited his passion for the sport.
“With Sally, I fell in love with skiing all over again like I did when I was a kid,” Scott said.
After college, Scott and Sally knew they didn’t want to stay in Colorado because of overcrowding, but still wanted a life in the mountains.
After graduation and a two-month trip to South America—climbing Machu Picchu and skiing in Argentina and Chile—the couple set out in search of their next mountain home. They stopped in Jackson, Wyoming, but couldn’t find a hotel and took it as a sign to move on. Then they thought Bridger Bowl would be their spot—until they came to Big Sky and saw Lone Mountain.
“We saw the Big Couloir and it was all filled in in June and we couldn’t believe it was a run,” Scott said. “And we just decided that we wanted to move here.”
That was 2007 and the Fishers got jobs as ski instructors at Big Sky Resort—Sally, who has a large, loyal client base, still teaches on the mountain—before getting the idea to open a movie theater during a road trip to Tennessee in 2010.
“We really love this community and we wanted to add to it,” Scott said. “We wanted to provide something that wasn’t already here and we had this idea—inspired by a movie theater in Aspen—and it kind of snowballed.”
The Fishers put together a business plan. While there was a positive response from the community, they couldn’t find a pre-existing structure that would work as a theater.
After sitting on their business plan for nearly a year, they got a call from Bill Simkins, who caught wind of their desire to open a theater. Simkins put the Fishers in touch with developer John Romney, who was about to break ground on one of the first commercial buildings built in Big Sky after the Great Recession.
“We were the anchor tenant,” Scott said. “We’re so lucky John built this place as a theater for us. We were very proud of taking the risk to try and start a business right after the recession and now there are all these businesses and people living here.”
With 40 to 80 percent of ticket sales going to the movie production companies and such large square footage, it requires a lot of hard work and innovation to sustain Lone Peak Cinema as a viable business. Again and again the Fishers come back to expressing gratitude to the community for making their dream possible.
“We are excited to reach this milestone,” Sally said of their five-year anniversary. “It’s been a lot of work; we are still scraping by. But we owe making it this far to the outstanding support from the year-round residents. We’d like to thank the locals for coming to movies, buying concessions from us, and letting their kids see the movies twice or more!”
Lone Peak Cinema celebrates five years of business all day on Monday, Dec. 5, with all things $5: movies, popcorn, beer, wine, cocktails, candy and more. The Fishers will also be giving away five movie passes.
Visit lonepeakcinema.com for a full schedule of show times.