BY: DOUG USHER
Ben Mozer opened the Lyric because he wanted a place where he could screen the movies he was making with his friends. Before the Lyric, Fort Collins movie theaters played mostly Hollywood films, which meant local filmmakers, as well as bigger independent
Ben Mozer opened the Lyric because he wanted a place where he could screen the movies he was making with his friends. Before the Lyric, Fort Collins movie theaters played mostly Hollywood films, which meant local filmmakers, as well as bigger independent films had no home in town.
“Any place that’s a place has an independent theater,” says Mozer. So he set out to open one.
After finishing film school in Bozeman (another town without an indie theater) Mozer wanted to create a place in Fort Collins that would foster the local filmmaking community and provide a home for films that elicit conversation.
He opened the Lyric in Old Town, converting a former laundry mat into a two-screen theater, along with a table-filled patio and lobby. A place for audience members and filmmakers alike to gather, discuss, and dream. Tomas Herrera, one of the directors of the local feature “Whensday”, describes the Lyric as “a focal point for creatives to gather from many disciplines and work through creative ideas together. Friendships are born, art is made and beers are drank.”
While the Lyric thrives mostly on the larger independent movies it brings to town, it has provided a home for many local filmmakers to showcase their work. Films like “Ghosts of the West” and “Whensday” have been finically profitable for the Lyric, but Mozer says he doesn’t rely on those movies to do well. The Lyric is there to provide an opportunity for local films, “whether they succeed or fail.” Additionally, it provides a home for films that can foster discussion and change,such as the recent Desplazado, a local documentary about the gentrification and displacement issues happening in Northern Colorado. Director Shari Due says “The Lyric has been invaluable to me as a filmmaker…Without their support and promotion it would be a tough road to success for filmmakers in Northern Colorado.” Desplazado has shown multiple times at the Lyric to sold out audiences, and subsequent conversations are having an impact in community discussions and policy decisions.
The Lyric stands apart from other movie theaters because its not solely a cinematic place. Mozer describes the Lyric as “more a storytelling venue than a movie theater.” While it already hosts events other than movies, like the monthly Storyswap, the theater is reaching a threshold at its current location in Old Town. Limited seating is making it increasingly difficult to secure the top independent films from distributors. Add to that the ever increasing rent in Old Town, and Mozer says it’s time for the Lyric to move. “This location was always a starting point. We’ve done this as long as possible, but it’s time to grow.”
The new Lyric on North College will more than tripling the number of seats, adding an outdoor theater, a “house band,” restaurant and full bar. The new space will be more comfortable and modern, meaning it will attract a broader audience, while maintaining the charm its current customers love. “If anything, it’s only going to get weirder,” says Mozer. “The Lyric is an evolving organism, that adapts to the needs of the community.”