Interior of the Los Gatos Theater (main area)
‘MAJESTIC’ - CineLux is currently hiring staff and installing equipment at the theater. (Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

Paul Gunsky navigates his way around the boxes stacked up next to the concession booth inside Los Gatos’ classic theater building.

The CineLux CEO—who jokingly refers to his title as “head popcorn popper”—has been crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s as his company edges ever closer to taking possession of the iconic facility.

“Has this been carpet-cleaned?” he asked Assistant Town Manager Arn Andrews, Thursday.

“I believe it has,” Andrews replied, but noted they could double-check.

CineLux has been planning to take over the operation of the downtown theater which lay dormant during the pandemic.

It was gifted to the Town, last year, by the Goetz family. Then, earlier this year, Los Gatos turned to CineLux to help get it open again.

But the parties are still ironing out the final contract particulars.

Gunsky, who grew up in the area, gazes over the features he calls “majestic,” like the pewter handrail on the stairway and the luxury light above.

He says it’s great to be able to help continue the legacy of one of the last old-style movie houses in the Bay Area.

“To come in and be the steward is just an honor,” he said, noting the company focuses on neighborhood-based outlets. “We specialize in small-town theaters.”

lobby of the Los Gatos Theater
DOWNTOWN ICON – Chris (left) and Paul Gunsky of CineLux Theatres are making the final adjustments in the process to reopen the Los Gatos Theatre. (Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

Chris Gunsky, his son, is the company’s area director. He’ll be in charge of Los Gatos’ moving picture house.

“We’ll manage this until we find a full-time manager,” he said. “I think this will be a great thing for the community of Los Gatos.”

He’s now in the throes of hiring staff, installing projectors and stocking the concession booth.

“The heart of it is just great guest services,” he said. “I’m really excited to open this location.”

Gunsky says he wants movie viewers to feel as comfortable as if they were in their own home.

That goes right down to the minute details, like saying “Hello,” and “Goodbye,” to patrons, he explains.

However, the theater plan hit a snag in recent weeks.

CineLux wanted assurances they weren’t going to end up stuck with a financial flop.

So, during the Oct. 4 Council meeting, Andrews asked Los Gatos’ elected officials to approve an updated contract term that would allow CineLux to negotiate the deal if it can’t make more than $100,000 annually.

“We feel it is abundantly important to create a sense of stability,” Andrews said. “And one of the ways we create a sense of stability is by making sure that the operator has some assurance that they’re not necessarily going to be running in the red, year after year.”

If CineLux can’t make enough profit, they’d be allowed to renegotiate their rent and the earnings percentage-split with the Town, Andrews said.

“All this term does is it means that the parties will start discussing again the current monetary elements,” he reported to Council, of what would happen if the target isn’t hit.

Council supported the contract update unanimously. The Town’s hoping to hand over the keys by the end of the week.

All parties say the theater will be open by the winter holiday season.

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Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected].


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