Arts & Entertainment  January 26, 2024

Horror-cinema giant Blumhouse to curate Stanley Film Center

ESTES PARK — Blumhouse Productions LLC, the juggernaut production company behind horror films and franchises such as Get Out, Five Nights at Freddy’s, The Purge and Paranormal Activity, will serve as the exclusive exhibit curator at the yet-to-be-developed Stanley Film Center at the Stanley Hotel, which holds a special place in horror history as the inspiration for Stephen King’s “The Shining” novel.

The Stanley Hotel, which is expected to be sold next month by its longtime owner to a nonprofit group in Arizona in a deal that will allow for the completion of the long-planned on-site film center, is “hallowed ground for horror fans and that makes this presence at the Stanley Film Center a natural extension for Blumhouse,” Blumhouse CEO Jason Blum said in a prepared statement. “Fans are going to get closer than ever before to their favorite films, though they may want to keep their distance with a few of the ‘items’ in our collection. We’re excited to get to work, but first we need to make it out of the hedge maze.”

The Stanley Film Center — which, according to its website “will be the permanent home for film, fun and the horror genre” and will highlight the key role that Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” film adaption has played in horror history — is a $70 million dollar effort that began in 2015 with a jumpstart in the form of millions of dollars in state tourism tax incentives. 

Development of the museum and interactive film center, which has received several more public financing boosts over the years, has been hampered by construction delays, cost increases and the COVID-19 pandemic, which essentially shut down the hospitality industry for several months in 2020. 

However, the upcoming sale by Grand Heritage Hotel Group to Arizona-based nonprofit Community Finance Corp., is expected to get the Stanley Film Center project across the finish line. The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade said Friday that, because the film center is an approved Regional Tourism Act project, the state will chip in $46 million in public funding.

The process of creating the film center has been an “incredible eight-year journey,” Grand Heritage Hotel Group owner John Cullen said Friday during a special meeting of the Colorado Economic Development Commission, during which the hotel sale and film center development were discussed. 

Once complete, the Stanley Film Center will be “a two-story building with approximately 64,735 square feet, to include an approximately 864-seat outdoor amphitheater with a fire capacity of 1,200 (including standing room-only), an event center, a film museum, a sound stage, and related amenities, to be constructed adjacent to the main hotel building and connected to the concert hall,” according to a state documents. 

While Grand Heritage is expected to continue managing the hotel and film center, Community Finance Corp. will take ownership of the Stanley in a matter of weeks by way of a $475 million bond issuance from Colorado Educational and Cultural Facilities Authority, a government body involved in the somewhat unorthodox financing model being used for the sale. 

In addition to helping fund the completion of the film center, the sale and bond issuance are expected to allow the 116-year-old, 140-room Stanley to add “a three-story expansion, consisting of approximately 86,000 square feet and approximately 58 additional guest rooms, to be connected to and be a part of the main hotel building,” according to a CECFA document.

“I could not be happier to know that the legacy of the Stanley Hotel will survive here in an almost permanent sense,” Cullen said. “I’ve owned it for 28 years, and this bond issue secures it from anyone else doing anything wrong with it for another 30 years. Then there’s a deed restriction beyond that for another 50 years.”

Cullen, along with the partners who helped him craft the somewhat outside-of-the-box terms of the hotel sale, is “someone who is very determined to make his projects happen, and he’s willing to do new things and novel things,” OEDIT deputy director Jeff Kraft said during Friday’s EDC meeting, which featured an executive session that likely included details of the Blumhouse deal. “…That the Stanley Hotel itself and the film center have a long-term financial legacy with a nonprofit is a reflection of his vision, incredible persistence and ability to solve problems.”

Lucas High
A Maryland native, Lucas has worked at news agencies from Wyoming to South Carolina before putting roots down in Colorado.
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