WICHITA — What Brian Mitchell once described as a hobby is clearly anything but just for fun.
Mitchell Theaters has purchased two more theaters: the 7-screen Storyteller Cinema in Taos, N.M., and the 8-screen Starlight Cinema in Los Lunas, N.M. That brings its total to 10 theaters with 73 screens in four states.
“This hobby has gotten out of control,” Mitchell says, laughing.
The Mitchell family – which includes Brian Mitchell and his siblings Brent, a lawyer at Martin Pringle, and Kendra Ramsey, who lives in Texas — is a farming family that bought its first theater in Newton six years ago and has been steadily acquiring new theaters ever since.
Now is an ideal time to buy theaters, Brian Mitchell says, because of Hollywood’s requirement that all theaters convert to become digital.
“The digital conversation really has the industry in chaos,” Brian Mitchell says. “It created an opportunity for us.”
He says a lot of theater owners had to make the choice about whether to upgrade to digital.
The other option, Mitchell says, is “would we rather exit the business?”
He says buying a theater in a resort town has its benefits.
“It’s kind of nice to leave the hot, dry plains of Kansas for … an overnight business trip to Taos, New Mexico, and the mountains.”
Even though the theater business isn’t only a hobby anymore, Mitchell says it’s still fun.
“We’re still having a blast.”