Fremont theater to reopen on Valentine's Day

Owner and operator of historic movie theater agree to a one-year lease to keep it operating

tweber@thetribunenews.com, slinn@thetribunenews.comFebruary 11, 2013 

The Fremont theater in San Luis Obispo.

JOE JOHNSTON — jjohnston@thetribunenews.com Buy Photo

The owners of the Fremont theater said Monday night that the landmark movie house in downtown San Luis Obispo will reopen Thursday with the showing of a film for Valentine's Day, and that issues which led to its recent closure have been worked out with a theater management company.

The Fremont was closed on Jan. 31 when a contract expired between theater owners Rob Rossi and John King and The Movie Experience, the Orange County management firm that had been showing movies there.

Local developers Rossi and King said in a news release Monday that issues leading to the theater’s recent closure have been worked out with the theater’s tenant, Sanborn Theatres — also known as The Movie Experience.

“To all who love and admire our treasured Fremont theater, the earlier announcements of its demise were both premature and inaccurate,” Rossi said in the news release.

Bruce Sanborn, chief executive officer of Sanborn Theatres, confirmed Monday night that his Newport Beach-based company has reached an agreement with King Ventures and Rossi Enterprises to operate the Fremont for an additional year.

The one-year lease is set to expire at the end of February 2014.

“We’re really pleased that this arrangement is happening,” said Sanborn, whose company manages three San Luis Obispo movie theaters owned by King and Rossi: Downtown Centre Cinemas on Marsh Street and the Fremont and Mission Cinemas on Monterey Street. “We’d prefer that we would be given a long-term lease and a right to remodel, but failing that … for right now, it’s better keeping (the theater) open than having it closed.”

In addition to first-run movies, the Fremont will continue to feature live musical acts, Rossi said, noting that the challenging economics of the entertainment business make it “economically infeasible” to just show movies at the Fremont.

“They feel that the building can produce more revenue,” Sanborn said of King and Rossi.

Rather than a full-time movie theater, he explained, the Fremont will function more like an extra screen for Downtown Centre Cinemas. 

“You’ll see multiple films in there at the same time,” Sanborn said, except when the Fremont is being used for concerts, weddings and other functions. “That’s what they asked us to do, is fill in the gap.”

Sanborn said two films will open at the Fremont on Valentine’s Day: the romantic drama “Safe Haven” and the action blockbuster “A Good Day to Die Hard.”

Also in store for moviegoers is a special screening Monday of the cult classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” popular with fans of the Fremont’s SLO Rewind screening series.

Details of the Presidents Day event are still being worked out.

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