Thursday, August 4, 2016

A Movie-Worthy Ending

At the beginning of this year, I wrote a post about a contest a small town movie theatre owner in Maine, up north near the New Brunswick (Canada) border, was running.  The prize:  his theatre.

Today, I wondered: what ever happened with the contest?

I am going to rerun the post, and, at the end, post an update.

"Did you used to have a favorite movie theatre growing up?

I did.  This contest made me think back to my childhood, growing up in the Bronx (a borough of New York City) in the 1950's and 1960's.

Back in the 1950's and 1960's, instead of going to the local shopping mall and going into an cinema with multiple screens, you went to a local movie theatre.  There was one screen, and you got two pictures for your admission fee.

My parents were far from wealthy, and we rarely went to a movie.  But when we did, it was a big event. This is a picture of the local movie theatre in my childhood neighborhood in the Bronx.  Several blocks away was a bigger theatre.

But the best one of all was the Loew's Paradise.  I graduated from elementary and junior high school there.

Where I live, near Binghamton, New York, there are no more family theatres.  The remains of some, abandoned for years, exist, slowly crumbling.

So what better thing would there be to do on a cold winter's day in upstate New York than to sit down and write an essay so that I can own my very own movie theatre.

No, I'm not going to write that essay.  But I am so intrigued by this contest, I wanted to share it with my readers.  

I am not a cinema buff but perhaps one of my readers is.  And I know at least one of my readers lives in Maine. So..(disclaimer: I do not know these people, and I am only reporting something I saw online.  I am not at all connected with this contest or responsible for it in any way.)

To quote from the Temple Theatre website:

" The Temple Theatre is at the center of Market Square in historic downtown Houlton, Maine. The Temple building is over 6000 sq. ft. on each floor, built to last in 1918 of wood, steel, and brick as a proud architectural addition to Houlton.....

  • The theatre and building are in fully operational condition.
  • The theatre has run almost continuously since 1918. There is space and approved plans for expansion of theatre space.
  • The Temple Theatre is the quintessential small town movie theatre. There is steady attendance and good community support for the theatre."
The new owner would also have won $25,000."

So what ever happened? Not enough people entered.  The money was refunded. But, someone from the town, now living in New Jersey, is moving back, will buy the theatre (the sale may have closed by now) and will live upstairs.  As for the contest, the owner posted, on his website:

Essay contest announcement. We did not receive enough entries to award the prize. The many hundreds of essays we received are truly phenomenal: powerful, passionate, honest, brave, hopeful, truthful, and aspirational. They have been a joy to read. It’s been a long process. We started on this in August and have worked on it tirelessly for six months. We received entries from almost every state (we think) and at least 6 countries! We are still processing the entries and will be getting out refunds within ten days. We’re truly sorry that at least one dream won’t be answered and awarded the theatre. We deeply thank you all who entered: we cannot tell you how much your entry was appreciated, read, loved, and treated with respect. And we also thank all of you who helped share and promote the dream, followed along, and cheered everyone on. We’re going to regroup and will keep you posted on further developments. Thank you all again and we’ll see you at the movies.
–Mike Hurley

Don't we all like happy endings?


  1. I love happy endings and especially when it is to do with people...As long as the theater stays, it's a good thing na.. I loved it

    1. If the web site is accurate, it is still open and under new ownership. Let's hope it can stay open.

  2. First, Alana- you forgot the cartoon!!!!!
    Secondly, the real problem with the theater is that reel-to-reel movies no longer are the norm. This theater is going to need at least a $ 60K infusion of cash to acquire the digital projector- or be frozen out of showing all the new movies.

    1. Oh, it would have been so easy to insert a cartoon from You Tube. NOW you tell me.

  3. Gosh, this made me think of the grand old theatres in my western NY town. Way grander than the town was!

    1. There are at least two old, decrepit movie theatre buildings still standing in Binghamton and I pass one five days a week. What a shame!

  4. They should take those essays and compile some sort of book. Of course, since the essays weren't written for that, there'd be legalities to go through. But wouldn't that be a cool book?

  5. Of course I am a movie buff and love happy endings, Alana. A fun post to read:)

  6. I remember the Valentine movie theater which is now a church. I do have sweet memories with my adult son going there.

  7. Here's to hoping the theater stays open. Sorry to hear about the contest.

  8. I have never been to a theater.... I know I am missing out on a totally different experience.. sad to read about that contest.. the words at the end were very honest and true..

    I am a movie love good movies...

  9. At least one Maine reader here... ;-) I vaguely recall reading about this in one of our local newspapers, but like you, hadn't read any updates.


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