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Cache of old movie reels could become big cash for Blue Earth

By Staff | Apr 1, 2013

Blue Earth City Administrator Kathy Bailey holds one of the recently discovered movie reels inside the soon-to-be demolished Avalon building.

It might turn out to be no big deal. On the other hand, it just might become the stuff that Hollywood legends are made of.

And, Hollywood could soon come knocking on Blue Earth’s City Hall door.

In preparation for demolishing the Avalon building on Blue Earth’s main street, inspectors discovered some interesting items.

“One thing they found were old movie reels and posters,” City Administrator Kathy Bailey says. “Apparently they were stored there since the time the building was used as a movie theater.”

“The items were all in a small storage area beneath the false floor in the building,” Bailey adds. “The wooden door to it had to be pried open.”

Among the reels of film, two in particular have drawn a lot of interest.

Both are films directed by Stanley Kubrick.”One is marked as being the movie “The Shining,” starring Jack Nicholson,” she says. “The other is “2001 A Space Odyssey.”

Both movies could turn out to be much more valuable than just being worth the silver in the celluloid film.

“The Shining” was released in 1980, while “2001” came out in 1963. Both have a similar history.

Soon after “The Shining” was released in theaters, Kubrick cut a controversial scene at the end, which was a discussion of the disappearance of Jack’s frozen body, according to a report on the Wikipedia website.

The original version was recalled and the new version was sent out. The older versions were all destroyed. Although rumors persist that not all the first versions were accounted for, as some small town theaters may have neglected to send them back to Hollywood.

Theaters such as the Avalon in Blue Earth.

Kubrick had done much the same thing with “2001,” recalling it from theaters, trimming 24 minutes off its length and adding a scene in the opening “dawn of man” sequence.

Bailey believes there is an excellent chance one or both of these films is the unreturned originals.

“If either of these is the first version, it could be worth some serious money,” Bailey says. “From what we have been told, each one could be worth up to $100,000. Maybe more.”

That, of course, would more than cover the cost the city will have when the Avalon is torn down next month. Or perhaps even the cost of restoring the building back into a theater.

The six bids for both the demolition and asbestos removal ranged from $36,500 up to $89,000. The council took the low bid, which was from Blue Earth Environmental, based in Mankato.

Cost of restoring the structure is put at $390,000.

Bailey says she is contacting several persons with knowledge of old movies and lost film reels to try and determine if this is the first or second version.

“It is hard to tell unless you can actually watch the movie itself and we can’t do that without a projector,” she says. “But I think the experts have ways to make that determination.”

Also found were hundreds of old movie posters.

“Old movie posters also have a value, with some selling for a couple of thousand dollars each,” Bailey says. “Of course, it depends on the movie and the condition of the poster.”

The administrator says they have been in contact with Mike and Frank from the History Channel television show “American Pickers.” Bailey says the two pickers will be making a trip from Iowa to Blue Earth soon, as they want a look at the posters. Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce director Cindy Lyon is already planning a “Giant” reception for the two TV stars.

If the pickers get here quickly, they could search the building themselves for other hidden treasures still inside.

“There was a level floor added above the main sloping theater floor, after the theater closed,” Bailey says. “That floor is still there and there are many old theater items under it, including many of the 600 theater seats.”

People have to stoop over to enter the storage room as the distance from the original sloped floor to the false wooden floor above it is only four feet at the entrance and rapidly gets smaller.

Bailey is looking for “height-challenged” people to help search the storage area.

But they better hurry.

Soon the Avalon and everything in it will all be nothing but a distant memory. As will this rather “foolish” story, or so one can only hope.

Think about it, after all. If the Avalon ceased being a theater in 1979, how could there be a copy of the 1980 movie “The Shining” supposedly stored in the basement?

Sounds suspicious.

This issue’s dateline could explain it all.