3D stays in the shadows of Sun Valley

Local movie theater mulls 3D conversion

SUN VALLEY, Idaho -- The Opera House, Sun Valley's only movie theater, has one screen and 340 seats. Its picturesque look and old-school pricing ($8 for adults, $6 for kids 12 and under as well as seniors 60 and over) are like a throwback to more idyllic times.

On Thursday, it will feature a special screening of "Toy Story 3" for the families of media moguls attending the annual Allen & Co. retreat here. However, the screening of the 3D blockbuster will be in 2D as far as the manager knows. After all, the cinema, built in 1937, hasn't converted to technologies that have taken Hollywood by storm.

"We are talking about converting to 3D," Steve McGregor, who manages the movie house for Sun Valley Co., tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Nobody in the Valley (which beyond Sun Valley also includes the towns of Ketchum and Hailey) is doing it yet. So it would be huge for us."

Entertainment power players got a demo of 3D technology here a few years ago when its mass appeal wasn't clear yet, but Allen & Co. had to bring in a 3D projector for the occasion.

The Opera House also features more tradition than technology in other regards. Every day at 5 p.m., it shows the 1939 film "Sun Valley Serenade," which showcases not only the Opera House, but also local scenery.

Two years ago, the cinema tried its hand at being a summer playhouse. And while people loved the experiment, its costs proved too high. Movies returned, although the house's stage allows for special live performances every now and then.

McGregor, who used to be a baker before he took over managing the Opera House in 2001, says he gets films from the Magic Lantern Cinemas in neighboring Ketchum and tries to "pick movies based on our expected guests."

During the summer, that usually means family and kids films, like "Karate Kid," which currently plays here twice a day. Winter usually features more artsy and adult fare, because Sun Valley is an older community.

"We usually try to keep a kids film when the Allen conference happens, because the theater is like a nice, cheap babysitter," McGregor says.

He expects "Karate Kid" to run next week as well, with a 9 p.m. showing of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" likely too. A "Salt" poster is found on the wall of coming attractions.

(The Magic Lantern in Ketchum already shows such current hits as "Toy Story 3," "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse," "The Last Airbender" and "Knight and Day.")

One more tidbit: Shows at Sun Valley's Opera House don't typically sell out. "I remember only one sold-out show," McGregor tells me. "That was the second 'Harry Potter' -- a 6 p.m. show."