Historic 105-Year-Old Maine Theater Announces Closure
After over a century in business, one northern Maine theater has made plans to turn out the lights one last time.
According to News Center Maine, the Temple Cinema in Houlton plans to close on June 29, 2023.
Given how the economics of the country have changed since March 2020, it should come as no surprise that the primary reason for the closure is financial.
Charlie Fortier purchased the theater, which sits on Houlton's Market Square, in 2016, and helped breathed new life into the aging theater, according to the news station.
The business bounced back and things started to improve. Attendance grew and grew.
In fact, 2019, was his best year, News Center Maine reported, and while the first few months of 2020 were good, too, the COVID-19 pandemic really changed things.
As we've heard time and time again, even once theaters reopened, there were not a lot of great movies in the theaters. Until recently, many of the big movies were released to streaming at the same time as they went to theaters.
While there is still something very special about seeing a big movie on the big screen, many people are just as happy watching it on a smaller screen in the comfort of their homes.
Additionally, the cost of doing business keeps going up. This is the case for both supplies and labor.
Fortier explained that, when he first purchased the business, the minimum wage was $7.50 and it's now $13.80, according to News Center Maine. Popcorn used to be $24 for a 50-pound bag, but now, it's $39 for a 35-pound bag.
First opened in 1918, the theater has been entertaining the people of Houlton for over a century, according to the news station. It is one of only a few Maine theaters that are over a century old.
The Strand in Rockland JUST celebrated its 100th birthday. And, Belfast's Colonial Theater dates back to 1912.
Think of all the historic moments that the Temple Cinema was around for! There is a good chance that soldiers returning from WWI saw their first movie there. During WWII, airmen from the nearby air base would have watched newsreels of the battles in Europe and the Pacific On top of that, thousands of young men and women would have had their first dates in the theater.
Personally, I had many great experiences there. One of the last nights out with my dad was seeing "An American Tail" in that theater. Later, as I got old enough to go without my parents, I saw some of the biggest movies of the late '80s and '90s there, things like "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation", "Titanic", and "Armageddon".
The owner has announced that, as long as he is able to keep afloat through June, the last movie he will show before closing will be "The Flash."
The theater will truly be missed.