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Shooting People
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Want to win a cinema?

There's a competition in Screen Trade (trade mag for cinemas) this month to win a cinema. A whole cinema. 400 seats, 2 screens, projectors, car park, staff, apartment, a whole cinema. It's on the first release circuit, fully digital, and even comes with a float and month of training to get you operating. You win a whole cinema. You even get the paperwork to turn the balcony into a third screen and backstage area into a fourth, plus some office space. A whole, real-world cinema.

Location might be an issue for some, or attractor for others - it's in Halden, Maine. It's a few miles from the Canadian border in a town with a population of 6000 (that's less than 10% of the population of Zataari refugee camp, for comparison), for sure you'll be one of the biggest businesses in town immediately. The current owner says that an on-site owner operator can make a reasonable income from it, but then he clearly wants out so would say that... There may be some local bylaws that make it harder to close a cinema than to keep it open, or something, or you may interior staff issues, but HEY IT'S A CINEMA!

So, what would you do with a cinema in the middle of nowhere? What would you try to make it spin a profit? Chop off the balcony to make a screen? Replace the main screen with a roller so you can open up the stage (I'm guessing the talk of backstage space means it could operate as a theatre)? How would you draw people in? Keep showing blockbusters and up the popcorn prices? Get on the art house circuit and try to create an audience out of the local population? Hold a film festival in a town with 100 hotel beds? What can you do?

This is more for a bit of fun just now, to see what people think, but if anyone is seriously interested, entry is by 250 word essay with $100/£65 entry fee (I guess the essay is so it's not a straight raffle for legal reasons), you can find it in Screen Trade (or if anyone is serious about entry, I'll post entry details here).

  • Excuse my you typo, the town is Houlton, Maine, the end of the 95 interstate before it vanishes into Canada, the cinema is the Temple Theatre

    3 years ago
  • Hmm. Perfect for a spot of money laundering as you sell out the house most nights :-)

    Hmm 2.

    If the buyer had a spot of cash I could knock up a script based around how a coke dealer buys a small town cinema. He puts his Film Studies nephew in charge who starts running it as an art house operation, as a front for his money laundering. (20 actual tickets, but 378 through the books).

    Before you know it the cinema is a success and the dealer is being hailed as a champion of culture.

    Meanwhile his cash is piling up and people waiting for the clean money start to come calling....

    And that folks, I predict, is the guts of Fargo, Series 3. And if it isn't, it should be :-)

    3 years ago
    • And for added jeopardy, they inadvertently create a huge local art house market, so all seats /are/ being sold, meaning there's not enough capacity for the fake money laundering customers causing tensions with the gang boss...

      3 years ago
    • (@Paddy Robinson-Griffin Perfect, we've got the main conflict!) And an individual clerk at the local authorities feels that there is something off, but his boss disagrees that they should investigate, because the numbers look right. The clerk, fearing for his job, swallows that bitterly and moves on, until one day something happens that makes it very difficult for him to ignore...

      3 years ago
  • Paddy yes please! Would love to see the link. Have a bunch of artist friends in Maine who'd love this..

    3 years ago

    If I win it, you're all invited ;-)

    3 years ago
    • Please address the skills and talents needed to run a movie theatre, the importance of a
      movie theatre to its community, and your plans for the theatre’s and your future. The
      winning entry will be judged on meeting the technical standards, writing structure,
      content, quality of expression, creativity, and understanding of the essay question.

      Entry form ...

      3 years ago
    • Wow Paddy I hope you win!

      3 years ago