Los Gatos Theater / Los Gatos, CA

San Jose Mercury News (California)

Monday June 13, 2011

Group of local owners join together to purchase the Los Gatos Theater

By Judy Peterson jpeterson

It appears the sale of the downtown Los Gatos movie theater will be a good thing for the town, as the new owners make up a local group that wants to keep the building as a theater and will likely make improvements to it.

The names of the investors have not been revealed, but Realtor J.J. Taughinbaugh says the theater was purchased by an entity called Threesisters Cinema, LLC.

"They’re keeping it very quiet as to who the buyer is," Councilwoman Diane McNutt said, "but I couldn’t have dreamed of a better outcome–a local family who wants to keep it as a theater and improve it. This is not an endeavor to make a lot of money; it’s about preserving the theater."

McNutt said she did not know the names of the new owners.

Taughinbaugh said there were multiple offers to purchase the theater, which was listed for $3.2 million. He did not disclose the sale price, but the deal closed on June 8 after a two-week escrow.

"It’s a high profile property," Taughinbaugh said. "All the individuals that were interested in it were trying to figure out how to make a return on their investment."

Taughinbaugh, who is a third-generation Los Gatan, said he’s pleased with the sale from both a professional and personal standpoint. "My mom saw the Wizard of Oz at the Los Gatos Theater," he said. "I’m very excited about the purchasers. They’re really looking out for the town’s best interests. It’s good to see someone local with a vision and who has downtown and the community’s welfare in mind."

The theater first opened in 1915 and was originally called the Strand Theater. When the Strand burned in 1929, the theater was rebuilt with an Art Deco look. To go with the new look came a new name, the Premier, which also boasted a marquee. It became known as the Los Gatos Theater in the 1940s.

Today, it’s run by the Camera Cinemas, whose co-owner Jack NyBlom, is eager to continue operating the Los Gatos icon. "I really like the new owner, and I’m looking forward to doing some new things here," NyBlom said. "They have some great ideas. They want to keep it a theater, and that’s real good news. I’m pleased with how things shook out."

Taughinbaugh, meantime, praised town officials for their involvement in the sale. "The town was very helpful," he said. "They were very engaged and supportive."

Since improvements are apparently on the way, the town’s continued support is necessary for any permits that might need to be drawn.

"I’m eager to see what they want to do as far as improvements," McNutt said. "It sounds like they want to do it right."

McNutt and other town officials have proposed that the theater could be used for live performances in addition to the first-run movies that the Camera Cinemas bring in. NyBlom says he is open to that possibility.

NyBlom added that for the time being, theater operations are "status quo."

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