Breck Film takes over Speakeasy Theater, will soon reopen as The Eclipse Theater in historical homage
Regular programming set to begin in late fall
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct that Amy Sides became the executive director of Breck Film in June and is no longer the interim director.
What’s old is new again. Breckenridge’s first Main Street movie theater, Eclipse, has returned to town — sort of. In reality, The Eclipse Theater is Breck Film’s new physical home for events and screenings at 103 S. Harris St., the location of the recently closed Speakeasy Movie Theater.
The name pays homage to the original theater that opened in 1910. It closed in 1914 for World War I and reopened after the war only to permanently close in 1942 because of World War II. Meanwhile, the Speakeasy was established in 1998 when Colorado Mountain College used to occupy the building, and it closed in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Breck Film, formed in 1981, chose the theater’s name after speaking to Larissa O’Neil of the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance.
“We love that name and think it’s great to incorporate some of Breckenridge’s history into our new venture,” Breck Film Executive Director Amy Sides said. “We’re pretty excited to kind of keep history alive.”
The new name is accompanied by a fresh, though familiar, look. The most noticeable changes will be a repainted interior and some new items of furniture. Wall art from the Speakeasy that features actors and actresses remains, as does the single screen with a 155-person seating capacity.
Many of the renovations are still in the early stages. The organization is focusing on opening in time for September’s Breck Film Fest. Because of the pandemic affecting the supply chain, Sides didn’t elaborate much on design specifics.
“It’s not going to be anything earth-shattering as far as the redesign of the space,” Sides said, calling it a very light and minimal remodel. “I want people to come into the space and be pleasantly surprised by what they see. I just don’t want to set up any expectations.”
Breck Film reached out to the town of Breckenridge, which owns the building, earlier this year when it heard that the town wanted to get the theater running again. After multiple parties expressed interest in the building, including the Speakeasy, Breckenridge chose Breck Film as the lessee. The nonprofit officially took over the space on July 9.
“It’s pretty clear that the Speakeasy holds such a dear place in everyone’s heart and that the people that operated it before us did make really meaningful contributions to the community,” Sides said. “We’re really excited to make sure we do the Speakeasy proud in our new venture.”
A goal for the art house is to make it a community gathering space. Sides wants the public to be encouraged to spend time in the lobby with a drink before the film instead of rushing to their seats with concessions and immediately leaving after the credits roll.
The menu of wine, beer, nonalcoholic beverages and traditional cinema snacks will help create the lounge vibe. Sides said they’ll start with the basics but are open to feedback to fine-tune their offerings over the first few months, in addition to rotating what’s pouring.
“We have so many great local breweries and wineries here that we’re really excited to just change up what we have on tap, not just serving the same stuff all year,” Sides said.
But Sides is most excited about the cinematic offerings of The Eclipse. She hopes to bring a balance of entertaining, educational and diverse programming that spans everything from independent films to big-budget blockbusters year-round. Those various genres can be found each September at the Breck Film Fest, which frequently utilized the Speakeasy in the past and will continue to use The Eclipse.
This year, the theater will host the invite-only filmmaker welcome party on the opening night of the festival, Sept. 16, before the public can see a variety films there Sept. 17-19. There will be no programming at Colorado Mountain College, but films will still be shown at Breckenridge Theater and the Riverwalk Center to keep the festival centrally located.
“It is tough for some filmmakers who may fly in and get a shuttle up to Breckenridge and not have a vehicle and (have to) figure out the bus system to (Colorado Mountain College), to see films,” Sides said. “We love the venue and definitely will program it again in future years, but this year, we thought it may be better to keep everything central and right in the heart of town.”
Managing it all is Kat Cook. The Frisco native has volunteered with Breck Film over the past few years as the theater manager for the festival. She oversaw the day-to-day operations of the multiple venues screening films. Her new, full-time role will be similar, yet more in depth, as she screens movies, helps program content and oversee concessions.
Passionate about all visual media such as short films and dramatic television, Cook is looking forward to being able to provide the same level of Breck Film Fest quality all year long in what she hopes will be an intimate and personal setting.
“I’m really excited for The Eclipse to be a part of the town and to have a place for people in our county and visiting our county to come to a more unique experience of going to the movies,” Cook said.
Those wanting a sneak peek of The Eclipse Theater are encouraged to sign up to volunteer with the Breck Film Fest. All volunteers, or those wishing to sign up in person, are invited to a party on Aug. 26 where they can enjoy light snacks, beverages and a roughly hourlong preview of the festival at the theater. After the festival, daily programming is set to start in the late fall, depending on the status of the renovations.
“It’s been a long-time dream for us to have a home,” Sides said. “We just see it as a huge leap in the continuation of Breck Film.”
Visit BreckFilm.org/the-eclipse for updates and, eventually, showtimes and tickets.
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