he grand reopening of the Jean Cocteau Cinema last Friday had more an air of a family reunion than that of a business launch.

Newly minted theater impresario George RR Martin took ticket stubs, while inside the theater, his wife Parris escorted people to their seats. “Isn’t this fun?” she beamed, as an attendee made her way down the stairs inside the eggplant-and-turquoise-hued hall and said out loud, “This is great! It’s really happening.”

The cinema’s famed popcorn and toppings were again ready for their close-ups; staff donned galactic costumes; and next to the theater’s new screen, Robbie the Robot—the true star of 1956’s

, the Cocteau’s maiden film—stood guard.

“He purposely kept it a secret from me,” Martin’s friend of 40 years, Ken Keller, told SFR about the special guest. Keller admitted that he and the famed author have had a longstanding rivalry as to who is the biggest Forbidden Planet fan and, with this latest move, the score was finally settled.

“I’m jealous, and envious, and pleased all at the same time…he just blew me out of the water!” the superfan continued, as people took pictures next to the replica that Keller said goes for upwards of $30K. “George waited all this time to buy it. He’s a smart man. Now he can write it off as a business expense,” he joked.

Robbie, Martin advances, will be a permanent guest during sci-fi screenings at the Montezuma Avenue art house.

The crowd, which included previous theater owner Richard Brandt, cheered as GRRM took the stage and welcomed guests. “I saw many movies here,” the author said. He rattled off a laundry list of titles and called the Cocteau “a unique, idiosyncratic place with the best popcorn in town.”


, admission to all movies during the theater’s first week was free to the public.

“I hope you come back when we’re charging money,” Martin told the packed house, immediately bursting into his trademark, high-pitched giggle.

Following Planet, Orpheus and Dark Star, the cinema’s eclectic programming gets refreshed this Friday, with the winner of the best film award at the 2011 American Indian Film Institute Festival, Shouting Secrets ; Europa Report (

) and 11 pm weekend screenings of fantasy-comedy romp Rapture-Palooza .

While Martin took a hands-on approach during opening weekend, he warned fans not to expect him to be a regular fixture at the movie house, as his top priority is finishing the sixth entry of his epic fantasy series, on which the hit HBO show Game of Thrones is based.

“My job is writing—and in the case of the Jean Cocteau, writing checks,” he concluded with a laugh.