UPDATED — On the heels of entering New Mexico to expand its chain of theaters, Mitchell Theatres has now added a fifth state: Colorado.
The company purchased Skyline Cinema in Dillon, Colo., an eight-screen theater that serves the Summit County resort community. That includes Breckenridge, Silverthorne, Frisco, Copper and Dillon.
This makes 11 theaters and 81 screens that the Mitchell family owns. The family, including 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.
The Colorado acquisition was completed the Monday after the July 20 shootings in an Aurora theater, which is about 80 miles from the Dillon theater.
Brian Mitchell says while he was in Colorado for the purchase, he drove to Aurora to visit a memorial to the victims.
“It’s a surreal feeling,” Mitchell says. “Your heart goes out to the families, but it’s also inspiring because you’d visit with people around the memorial.”
He says he contacted each of his family’s theaters regarding security after the Aurora shootings. Mitchell said he instructed managers to hire extra security officers if they felt they were needed, and some did. He says the theaters are still allowing costumes at shows, but not full masks or fake weapons.
“You didn’t want to eliminate the experience of dressing up for Batman, but you want to make everybody feel safe.”
Mitchell says customers have been understanding.
“We’re not going to quit going to movies,” he says. “We’re not going to halt anything because that would be allowing the gunman to win.”
The Mitchells are going to do their standard upgrades when buying a theater – converting to digital projection, adding 3-D projectors, improving the sound – and bring back popcorn tubs and combo pricing on concession items.
Hollywood is requiring that all theaters convert to become digital. Not all theater owners want to make the transition, which is why the Mitchells have been so active in acquisitions recently.
As the deadline approaches, Mitchell says, “I think it’s going to slow up a little bit.”
He adds, “But, hey, we’re always looking.”