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Owning a movie theater is one of those ideas that always sounds totally awesome, like opening a bar or starting a band. All of these endeavors are, like most such ventures, a ton of work and struggle that most people don’t give a second thought. But, if it’s ever been a part of your overall life plan, or perhaps even a childhood pipe dream, to own your very own movie theater, well, today might just be your lucky day.
The deed to the Temple Theatre in Houlton, Maine, population 6300, is up for grabs in an essay-writing contest, and lucky for you, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the deadline to enter has just been extended by two weeks. With entries due by the end of January, this should give you plenty of time get your thoughts together and pen an eloquent, 250-word essay about "Why would you be the best person (or family or group) to be the new owner of the Temple Theatre in historic downtown Houlton, Maine?" Assuming you would be the best person for the job, and that owning a 98-year-old movie theater in a small northeastern town is something you’re interested in.
The contest is being run by the Temple’s current owner, Mike Hurley, who purchased the theater twelve years ago for a song and spent a small fortune refurbishing the two-screen, 400-seat theater that also features offices, concessions, and even an apartment should you want to live there, too.
Hurley settled on the contest after he failed to sell the movie theater for his $350,000 asking price, and through this approach he has found an ingenious strategy to help him hit his goal. Each entry costs $100, and he has set the minimum number of entries at 3500, which will add up to his original goal, or he can pull the plug. Part of why he chose to extend the deadline from January 15 to the end of the month is to capitalize on all of the free press he’s been getting and hopefully expand the number of contestants. At the moment, only 200 have entered, but there’s still a long time, and presumably there are folks out there taking their time to make sure their entry is the very best one.
As far as the business goes, Hurley says he "makes a ton of money" on concessions, despite selling a small popcorn for only $2. The Temple recently upgraded to digital projection, and with his earlier renovations, though the building is a bit elderly, there shouldn’t be much immediate maintenance to take care of.
So, if you’re set on owning a movie theater and only have $100 in your pocket and a dream in your heart, this may be your chance.