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This sign greeted those who showed up at Blockbuster to rent movies in December, leaving slim pickings elsewhere in Vail.
This sign greeted those who showed up at Blockbuster to rent movies in December, leaving slim pickings elsewhere in Vail.
By Tom Boyd 
Where have all the movies gone?
Movie stores and theaters scarce in Vail … for the time being
By Tom Boyd

December 26, 2007 — There were few movie theaters in a more advanced state of decay than the Crossroads Cinema in Vail in its final years of existence. The destruction of the grimy, dilapidated structure earlier this year was far shy of a tragedy when it occurred this spring, yet its disappearance has left Vailites without a movie theater of their own.

It was slightly more distressing to see the Cascade Theater morph into a condominium complex at about the same time. Cascade, at least, was clean and functional, and its tiered seating allowed a clear view for even the most diminutive of movie-goers.

Movie theater and rental locations in the Vail Valley

The town of Vail is temporarily without theaters, so the only way to see a movie on the big screen in the Valley is to pack up and head down to Edwards or Eagle.

Edwards is about 15 minutes drive west of Vail on I-70. A four-screen complex hosts shows nightly at the Riverwalk Theater, and show times are available by clicking HERE.

To get to Riverwalk Theater, follow I-70 west to the Edwards exit, proceed south on Edwards Spur Road over the Eagle River toward the U.S. 6 traffic signal. The Riverwalk complex is located on the northeast corner of the U.S. 6/Eagle Spur Road intersection. Riverwalk Theatre is located at the corner of First and Main. Parking is free within the Riverwalk retail district, including the underground structure.

The Capitol Theater in Eagle is located in the town of Eagle, approximately 30 minutes drive west of Vail on I-70. Show times are available by clicking HERE.

To get to the Capitol Theater, take I-70 to the Eagle exit; proceed south over the Eagle River, at the roundabout turn right on U.S. 6; proceed one mile west, turn left at the main entrance to Eagle Ranch. Then turn left on Capitol Street. Parking is available on the street and in the lot behind the theatre building.


Blockbuster Video closed in December, and the City Market rental store closed in May, leaving Vail without a rental store.

The Vail Public Library loans DVDs from their collection to those with a library card. It is located on the town’s bus route across from Dobson Ice Arena at the east end of Lionshead (292 W Meadow Drive).

Eagle Valley Music, from its new location in West Vail (next to the West Vail Liquor Mart in the West Vail Mall), rents VHS tapes on request and sells DVDs, but no longer rents DVDs.

City Market in West Vail, on the North Frontage road near the West Vail exit of I-70, has a DVD vending machine, where movies are available for $1 a day.

McDonalds, also in West Vail, on the North Frontage road near the West Vail exit of I-70, has a “Red Box” DVD vending machine where movies are available for $1 a day.

Plans are in the works for a three-screen theater in the new Solaris, to be finished sometime in 2009, but until then Vailites will have to trek down to Edwards or Eagle to see their movies (see sidebar) on the big screen.

Unless, of course, there’s a big screen at home, in which case Vailites can sidle over to the video store, rent a flick of choice, and pick up a gallon of Ben and Jerry’s and some popcorn on the way home.

Or can they?

The rental store at City Market in West Vail closed in May. More recently, the Blockbuster Video in West Vail, the central rental location for the past 13 years, also went down to the deluge of redevelopment. In its place will be a Vail Resorts headquarters for the proposed Vail Resorts project: Ever Vail.

Movie vending machines, like this one at City Market, are the only option outside of the Vail Library for renting movies in Vail.
Movie vending machines, like this one at City Market, are the only option outside of the Vail Library for renting movies in Vail.

Only a few locations remain to pick up a DVD for home viewing (see sidebar), among them the Vail Public Library. The Library collection boasts numerous new releases and, of course, is free to cardholders – yet only one or two copies of the big titles are on the shelves at any time.

Fault is not completely in the hands of developers, for movie rental stores around the country are becoming endangered. Just as video took a bite out of movie-going, and DVD wiped out the VHS, now pay-per-view movies, OnDemand movies, NetFlix, and the wonder of downloadable movies are wiping out rental stores.

Jeannie Robbins, who runs Eagle Valley Music with her son, Tom, gave up on DVDs long before they even moved to their new location in West Vail. They now focus on music, as well as rare and collectable comics.

“They were really a pain,” Robbins said of DVDs. “I had stacks of them to wash and they’d come back scratched and dirty … Blockbuster has already lost billions, and I don’t know how you come to the point where you have billions to lose.”

Indeed, Blockbuster did lose about $4 billion from 2002-2005, according to USA Today, then clambered back into the black with a $54 million profit in 2006.

The former owners of Blockbuster could not be reached for comment on this story, but the Vail Resorts buy-out seems to have played a large role in the closing of the store, perhaps a larger role than the decline of the DVD.

The recent flurry of movie-related happenings marks the biggest year in Vail’s movie theater biz since the opening of Cascade Theater in 1983.

Steve Lindstrom, owner of Cascade Village Theater INC., which owned both Vail theaters and still owns the Edwards and Eagle theaters, said it was high-time to replace Crossroads, which was built in 1968.

“Obviously Crossroads needed to be redone,” he said. "That was a sorry old place.”

Lindstrom won’t have a hand in the new theaters at Solaris, but he said Vail will always need a theater, and he believes Solaris will be a good location for it. Until then, the only big-screen locations in the Valley will remain in Edwards and Eagle. As for rentals … it may be time to say goodbye to the DVD and look into new ways of watching your old favorites.



Comment on article  1 Comment on "Where have all the movies gone?"


Bill Thorton — December 27, 2007

Wow. What a bummer for my vacation. Thanks for the good advice on the rental houses though. I'll be sure to give the library a try but might have to default to Mickie D's.



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