For Doug Sitter, it was the second time that was the charm, and if things go well, there should be no need for a third.
I wanted to create a small venue thats affordable to rent and to bring back independent films theres a lot we dont get here, Sitter said of his latest venture, The Back Space Theatre.
Sitter partnered with Chuck Kuehn to buy the Abbey Theatre in 2009, but the two disagreed on the mission of the venue. Sitter saw the theater primarily as a movie house, and Kuehn wanted to do more live music performances. So last year, Sitter sold his share to Kuehn and began investing in the building at 1120 Main Ave., where his wife, Kristen, runs Durango Dance studio.
The Back Space will open Thursday with a screening of Biutiful, the Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Film starring Javier Bardem. Its a nice tone-setter for the new theater, which will follow Biutiful with Sun Come Up, the story of the Carteret Island refugees in the South Pacific. Both films will show all weekend.
While indy film will be the backbone of programming at The Back Space, Sitter and manager Liz Potter said the venue will serve many purposes. The theater will host occasional, low-key music shows, dance recitals by Durango Dance and other events. And because The Back Space is a nonprofit organization, Sitter and Potter intend to make it available for fundraisers and events for Durango High School, Fort Lewis College and other groups in need of a low-cost performance venue.
The Back Space will seat about 70 people for films and 50 for performances. Sitter configured the theater area so that filmgoers will sit in tiered rows to see the screen, but the room can be reversed for music shows so that the crowd will be on the floor looking up at the raised stage area once the seats are removed. Seating is a mix of small couches, chairs and traditional connected theater seats. The limited refreshment menu includes beer, wine, soft drinks, candy and popcorn, which will be sold during movies and shows.
Its not a bar, but we wanted to have some choices outside of what a regular movie theater offers, Sitter said.
Potter said theres no such thing as regular hours at The Back Space. The office will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and films will be shown Thursday through Sunday. Other than that, its anyones guess.
Events will happen when they happen, Potter said.