By REBECCA LI
Los Alamos High School
On June 9, 2020—after 16 years of service to the community—Jim O’Donnell, the owner of the Reel Deal Theater, gave a tearful farewell as he closed the doors to the one and only movie theater within thirty minutes of Los Alamos. Given an opportunity to purchase the building, the Los Alamos County Council turned down the offer despite the many benefits it would provide to the community. However, recently, an article came to my attention that discussed a potential county purchase of the theater but to become a tween center. Somewhat frustrated when reading through, I, as a member of the Los Alamos community, am here to explain as to why the Reel Deal Theater should not be changed or abandoned, but reopened.
The County Council, as written on their 2022 Strategic Leadership Plan, wants to focus on prioritizing the improvement of Los Alamos’s infrastructure as well as the support and opportunities for local businesses. By reopening a movie theater, the Los Alamos County Council can further progress our community while also increasing the overall quality of life for their citizens. A movie theater acts as a place where families, friends, and strangers can come together and through playing advertisements for fellow small businesses, thus increasing traffic and sales to the businesses itself, creates an entertaining atmosphere for the people while improving the conditions of our economy.
Councilor David Reagor stated that the role of the council is not purchasing these properties but rather “helping or supporting the developer…” However, through the two years that this movie theater has been on the market, no interest has been shown in purchasing the property. None. Not a single person. Because of that, the county itself must stand up and make the first move because the council can not help or support a developer if there is no developer to begin with.
To go even further, Los Alamos desperately lacks recreational amenities. The trails, pools and restaurants are not enough to capture the attention of a growing generation who seeks quick and easy excitement. I remember many people within the community, including myself, who would go to the movie theaters to take advantage of the open opportunity. The movie may not be the hit film of the year, but because the option to go was simply at our fingertips, we went. Without this option, many teenagers opt to stay at home or eat out with friends or simply walk around Los Alamos. This lack of recreational amenities has negatively affected this growing generation and made many unsure as to whether they will return to Los Alamos once they’ve left for college. The world itself is huge and exciting and yet a council seeks to re-grasp the attention of these up-and-coming adults with amenities targeted at families with young children.
Economically, many would disagree against the implementation of a movie theater due to the pandemic still ravaging; however, Spider-Man: No Way Home, a release in late December that grossed over $669 million dollars, has proven that there is still a home for movie theaters across America. Furthermore, Councilor David Izraelevitz made it clear that the County has the resources “to make this project a success — including the money.”
To make it even clearer, though there are logistics involved, the fact is that we do not have to build a whole new building. As mentioned prior, the council has considered purchasing the theater to make into a tween center. If that is a possibility that they are considering, the reintroduction of a movie theater would be much easier. To reopen something new (like a tween center), the county would need to implement new entertainment systems, tear down and redo rooms, and put into place different utilities which are all extremely expensive to do. Furthermore, a movie theater can be enjoyed by everyone. If their goal is to increase the recreational amenities in Los Alamos, shouldn’t the council lean more towards something that can be enjoyed by every age?
The Los Alamos County Council wants to improve economic vitality amongst the small business atmosphere as well as enhance quality of life for its citizens. Improvement. How do we measure improvement? For me, improvement is determined by the cost in accomplishing a plan as well as how many people it affects positively. By implementing a movie theater, the council can improve these areas. I am not asking for the council to go in blind, but to instead, consider the points I’ve made today and do their own cost-benefit analysis with the help of the public (i.e. through newspaper articles, online posts, Q&A sessions, etc.) to determine the best plan to proceed forward. However, in my opinion… I want the council to acknowledge that improvement—this vague word meant to signify success in one way or another—will not come unless someone truly takes that first step to prove that it is possible.
Baine, Derek. “Dark Clouds Still Hang Over Movie Theaters: Covid-19 and the Streaming Business Weighs Heavy.” Forbes, 10 Jan. 2022,
aters-covid-19-and-the-streaming-business-weighs-heavy/?sh=78be8160701c. Accessed Feb. 14, 2022.
Laskey, Kirsten. “Council Forgoes Purchase of CB FOX and Reel Deal.” Los Alamos Daily Post, submitted by Carol A. Clark, 18 Mar. 2021,
https://ladailypost.com/council-forgoes-purchase-of-cb-fox-and-reel-deal/. Accessed Feb. 14, 2022.
Laskey, Kirsten. “Reel Deal Theater Closes Doors After 16 Years.” Los Alamos Daily Post,
submitted by Carol A. Clark, 11 June 2020,
https://ladailypost.com/reel-deal-theater-closes-doors-after-16-years/. Accessed Feb. 14, 2022.
Laskey, Kirsten. “Reel Deal Theater Could Potentially Become Tween Center.” Los Alamos Daily Post, submitted by Carol A. Clark, 13 Feb. 2022,
https://ladailypost.com/reel-deal-theater-could-potentially-become-tween-center/. Accessed Feb. 14, 2022.
“2022 Strategic Leadership Plan Los Alamos.” Los Alamos County Council, 8 Feb. 2022,
https://p1cdn4static.civiclive.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_6435726/File/Government/County%20Council/Strategic%20Leader%20Plans/2022.02.10_BOOK_Council_Strategic%20Leadership%20Plan_2022_LBucklin.pdf. Accessed 14 Feb. 2022.