January 14, 2016

Want Your Own Movie Theater? This Guy is Giving His Away to the Best 250-Word Essay

Win a Movie Theater
When your friend's borrowed PA and a projector aren't enough, here's a rare opportunity to acquire your very own movie theater.

Despite an unfortunately and saddening all time low in theater attendance in 2015, the theatrical experience is still the gold standard cinematic for many. For those of you who hope to proliferate this sentiment, a man named Mike Hurley is giving away his theater in Houlton, Maine (valued at $350,000) to the person who writes the best 250 word essay about why they should be the new owner.

  • $100 entry fee.
  • 250 words.
  • Deadline January 31st.
  • Refunded if less than 3,500 entries are collected.
  • Enter Here
Temple Theatre
Credit: Steve Minor

The Temple Theatre, which was renovated in 2002 with a new sound system and seating, is a two screen theater with deep historical roots to the small town of Houlton. If you couldn't tell by the spelling of its name (theatre vs. theater) — this place has been around since 1907, and eventually evolved into a movie theater in 1919.

The price of a child’s admission was one thin dime and adults had to fork over fifteen large (cents). Originally, the projection booth was located at the rear of the balcony and the concession stand was where the current projection booth is located today. In the 1980s, the single screen theatre was split with the construction of a wall down the center of the auditorium in order to provide greater film title offerings.

Temple Theater History

Since Hurley has owned the theater he spent $200,000 in renovations and just upgraded to digital projection last year. Additional stats from THR

Hurley owns (and is therefore giving away) only the first two floors. Each screen comes with a balcony and seats 200. The second floor consists of 4,200 square feet of office space and a 2,000 square-foot apartment, where his manager lives.

Since Hurley claims he will not announce a winner unless a minimum of 3,500 entries are collected, applicants don't have much to lose. In a lot of ways it would be a dream to own a theater — but I'm sure it's a lot to manage, and apparently too much for this man to handle. On one hand it's a romantic notion, on the other hand you just might be inheriting a full time job.     

Your Comment

23 Comments

This is a really smart way to get rid of some real estate otherwise hard to sell!

January 14, 2016 at 3:12PM

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yeah excellent marketing move. it's more like a lottery where one person wins big

January 14, 2016 at 4:15PM

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Yup. 3,500 x $100 = $350,000. Smart, but I doubt this guy's gonna read 3,500 essays either.

January 14, 2016 at 4:31PM

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Yeah, he's looking at around 2000 pages worth of essay.

January 15, 2016 at 10:31AM

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The owner as well as his theatre staff will be combing through the essays initially. After that, the best ones will be sent to a group of three local judges.

January 15, 2016 at 12:20PM, Edited January 15, 12:31PM

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Sean Pettis
Director/DP
514

I put together an essay and sent it off right after hearing about this. I love what this guy is doing.

January 14, 2016 at 3:43PM

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Sean Pettis
Director/DP
514

The attendance all time low number quoted was for 2014 not 2015. Back up to average in 2015.

http://www.boxofficemojo.com/yearly/

January 14, 2016 at 4:11PM

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d shay
403

Well, it is NOT FREE, it has a $100 entry fee which to me is steep for this kind of thing. Like winning the billion dollar lottery your chance of winning is equal to being struck by lightning twice. So in essence you are donating $100 to a stranger and getting nothing in return.

January 14, 2016 at 4:30PM

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If you think this is like winning the lottery, I really hope you're not involved in financing.

January 18, 2016 at 5:29AM

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keith
468

"Hurley claims he will not announce a winner unless a minimum of 3,500 entries are collected, applicants don't have much to lose."

Hurly claims his theater is worth $350k, he wants people to give him $100 a piece with a minimum of 3500 entries, doing the math means you get 1 in 3500 chance to win only 2 floors of the building, which means since the whole building and equipment is worth $350k and he is selling half the building, but receiving full price in the enteries and for the money gives you a 1 in 3500 chance of winning. He controls who wins, so it may be to a friend or family member or even himself. Since it is judged by an essay. I question if it is even legal, but looking at this seems like a great deal for him and no downside, since he raises $350k but since is not giving all of the value of the theater to the winner. Smells like a scam to me. To be for warned is for armed.

January 14, 2016 at 4:37PM, Edited January 14, 4:37PM

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In the essay rules, you're not allowed to mention your name or any clues as to who you are. The final winning decision is picked by three judges without theatre ties, so it is unlikely that the theatre will be given to a friend. The description also states that lawyers have been consulted throughout the process to keep things legit. On top of all this, not many people are mentioning the fact that he will be refunding the $100 entry fees, if he doesn't get as many entries as he wants. For those comparing the odds of 1/3500 against the 1/292,000,000 Powerball, I don't even know what else there is to say about that. Besides, this isn't a straight lottery as it involves skill. If you're a filmmaker who loves film and you can write decently, the odds should be much greater than 1/3500.

January 15, 2016 at 12:29PM

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Sean Pettis
Director/DP
514

Argh! Houlton is just 2 hours away... But I can't justify spending $100 on what is basically a lottery.

January 14, 2016 at 9:42PM

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Alex Vietinghoff
Cinematographer, Editor
81

In theory, it's not a lottery. You should win based on the content of your essay, not a random number drawing. So your odds are what you want to make them.
Speaking of odds, what are the odds 3500 people will enter.
The bigger question is, do you really want to operate a theatre?

January 15, 2016 at 1:43PM

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Charlie K
1421

What if the owner chose the essay from someone he knows?

It's total curruption bullishit.

January 14, 2016 at 11:45PM

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Minu Park
Director
234

The owner doesn't make the final decision as to who wins and the rules disqualify anyone who includes their name in the essay.

January 15, 2016 at 12:41PM

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Sean Pettis
Director/DP
514

Come on Minu.
Read the rules before you start flinging accusations.

January 15, 2016 at 1:46PM

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Charlie K
1421

So... the guy is selling his theater for $350k. : /

January 15, 2016 at 12:30PM

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Jordan Mederich
Documentarian / Filmmaker
1218

If I lived near by I would definitely try it out. He obviously wants what it's worth for the theater but I think it's still a good opportunity.

January 15, 2016 at 12:52PM

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Keith Kim
Photographer
1510

Let's see, The competition have been running since the end of september, if the deadline have been extended just means two things. There aren't 3,500 entries yet. Or They receive a incredible amount of submissions and decided to get a couple more since a little extra money is always better.

I would love to write a essay but without a specific criteria the odds will be completely random. And I don't know about you gentlemen but pulling a shiny pokemon out your pocket is extremely difficult.

I definitively love the idea and I considered writing the essay but I don't play lottery.

January 15, 2016 at 3:00PM

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Edgar More
All
1284

Win it. Sell it.

January 16, 2016 at 1:01PM

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"Win it. Sell it."

Great idea !

I'm pretty sure the owner never thought about trying to sell his money furnace.

But who in his right mind would buy into that money pit ?

The theater has 2 rooms with 200 seats each. If every showing sells out, a maximum of 400 people have to buy enough soda and popcorn to pay for the employees, electricity, buying the goddamn popcorn and hoping enough is left to turn in a profit.

I like the idea, but the reality is: it's a town of 15000 potato farmers, the winters are hard and you "win" a 100 year old building that needs a lot of "taking care of".

I highly doubt 3500 people will invest $100 bucks to buy into this romantic (read: stupid) dream.

Making a theater profitable in a big town is a challenge. Doing the same in potatoville seems pretty insane to me.

January 23, 2016 at 7:10PM, Edited January 23, 7:10PM

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I love this. Can't wait to see how it plays out.

January 17, 2016 at 1:12PM, Edited January 17, 1:12PM

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Sannah Parker
Producer/Editor
270

Convert it all into apartments. Or, a church. Otherwise it's dead weight.

January 19, 2016 at 10:28AM, Edited January 19, 10:29AM

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