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Big Sky theater to reopen as The Independent Jan. 7

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A 360-degree bar stocked with one of Montana’s largest liquor selections is the centerpiece of The Independent’s lobby. PHOTO BY JOSEPH O’CONNOR

By Tucker Harris EBS STAFF

After sitting dormant for almost two years, Big Sky’s movie theater will reopen as The Independent on Jan. 7, 2022. Formerly Lone Peak Cinema, the venue has been completely overhauled and its creators envision the space as a community center for entertainment.

The beloved Lone Peak Cinema closed its doors in March 2020, when COVID-19 first hit. Now, The Independent will debut in the new year with even more to offer.

The new theater, once host to Hollywood flicks and the occasional ski film, will be broken into four different venues: a large 90-seat theater for new release Hollywood films; a smaller open stage space for independent films, live music, trivia and private parties; a large downstairs bar with cocktails inspired by classic films and an upstairs restaurant and bar.

“Every night of the week there is going to be something different happening,” said Ruth White, general manager of The Independent. “It will almost be like a community hub for entertainment.”

The restaurant will be open seven days a week for dine in or packaged-to-travel meals and rotating cocktails set to a theme each season. The dinner menu is currently in development and being curated by the team at Ousel and Spur Pizza Co.

Previous building owners, John Romney and Dan Henry will remain the theater’s owners. Romney is also co-owner of Ousel and Spur. Romney brought White on in May of 2021, and since then, she has been hard at work bringing the theater’s refurbished concept into reality.

“The movie theater was the first place I ever went to when I first came [to Big Sky] in 2017,” White said. “It was literally the first business that I walked into.”

Hollywood new releases will be available with two showings per day at $15 for adult tickets and $10 for children tickets ages 14 and under. There will be special deals for locals that work in the hospitality and service industry as well.

In addition to providing movies, The Independent will host daily entertainment in the smaller theater space that is now open-concept.

“It’s interactive where guests can still go up to the bar and grab a drink,” White said, “or if they’re sitting on the opposite side of the bar, they can still see and hear what’s going on.”

Co-Head Bartender, Michael Duke, prepares an “Andy’s Negroni” from 1942 film, “Casablanca.” PHOTO BY JOSEPH T. O’CONNOR

The Arts Council of Big Sky has partnered with The Independent to help curate the weekly event series on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Music Mondays will feature films centered around music; Tuesdays will include showings of outdoor-themed films, including touring film festivals and documentaries; Fridays will be reserved for live jazz nights; and Saturdays for singer-songwriter live music.

Brian Hurlbut, executive director of the Arts Council, said he’s excited to partner with The Independent and expand the Arts Council’s reach to the Big Sky community while also getting more involved in the film industry.

“I’m just really excited, not only that the Arts Council has gotten to be a part of it but as someone that has lived here in Big Sky for a long time,” Hurlbut said. “I think that this type of space is going to be really popular from anyone that just wants to go in and get a drink, to someone that wants to listen to music, to somebody that wants to go upstairs and get dinner, and I think it’s just going to have a lot of buzz to it when it’s open.”

The Independent staff is also happy to have the Arts Council on board as a partner.

“We’re totally excited to tap into not only the reach of the Arts Council and the outstanding work they have done for the community, but also Brian’s knowledge of music and of outdoor films and film festivals. It is a wealth of knowledge to be able to partner with them,” White said.

Bozeman-based jazz artist Craig Hall will be spearheading the jazz nights on Friday evenings, sometimes bringing in other musicians to play improvisational jazz with him on stage.

“It’s something we haven’t really had—a jazz scene up here before like that—I think it’s just something that we’ve been missing in Big Sky,” said Hurlbut. “I think it really fits in with that space: with the table seating, the stage and the atmosphere.”

Trivia Night at Lone Peak Cinema was a staple for Big Sky locals. White is particularly excited to bring back that offering and host live trivia again, equipped with a state-of-the-art sound system, a host on stage and table service to ensure nobody misses a question while refilling their beverage.

Each month, free Throwback Thursday films in the open space will be set to a theme. For January, in honor of Nicolas Cage’s birthday month, the throwback films will both feature Cage: “Ghostrider” on Jan. 13 and “Honeymoon in Vegas” on Jan. 20.

“I think the atmosphere is very upbeat, very fun, very interactive,” White said. “I always tell my team before we start work to be nice to people and have fun, and so I think the atmosphere our team will provide is fun and friendly.”

Both White and Hurlbut look forward to bringing a fresh entertainment hub to the Big Sky community.

“The movie theater was a huge part of the Big Sky community when it was open, and people miss it,” Hurlbut said. “We’re just trying to change it up and offer something different for the Big Sky community and make it different than what already exists in town.”  

The Independent will host daily entertainment in the smaller, open-concept theater space. PHOTO BY JOSEPH T. O’CONNOR

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