In Houlton, Maine, a 98-year-old movie theater called the Temple Theater is on the market. But owner Mike Hurley isn't going to hire a relator to help him get it off his hands — instead he's created the ultimate contest for film fanatics and writes alike: an essay contest to win a movie theater. The charming theater boasts two screens, 400 seats, an office, an apartment, and a massive parking lot. The theater is one of the oldest in Maine and by the looks of it, it's maintained a lot of old world charm, while remaining relevant in a busy downtown location.
The guidelines are pretty basic and not at all intimidating; Hurley wants to be persuaded. He's looking for the most compelling, creative piece that utilizes strong structure, content, and clarity. The essay must only be 250 words in length, which is less than this article alone, so if you're easily overwhelmed by lengthy word requirements, this contest should make you feel at ease. Considering the long history and positive reputation of the theater, Hurley's probably going to be looking for someone who's aware of the theater's past and ambitious for the theater's future. It can't be an easy endeavor for him, considering how much is at stake.
The Temple Theater has been valued at $350,000, so rather than list that as the asking price for a public sale, he's enforced a $100 application fee for the contest, meaning it will pay for itself if he gets enough applicants. Lucky for him, his promotional video advertising the contest has now received media coverage, pushing it towards viral status. So it looks like Hurley will get that full price after all.
You might remember two other essay contests similar to this and also in Maine: the Blue Hill Inn and the Center Lovell Inn both created a writing contests earlier this year for a chance to become to the inn-keeper. Their essays also had a 250 word guideline and a hefty entry fee which covered the Inn's asking price. That said, it seems like this type of contest will be an upward trend in the future, especially enticing for business owners who are looking for a way out with the least amount of losses. For the Temple Theater, however, Hurley promises to refund all contestants their $100 is the minimum entries needed to cover his asking price are not submitted. Oh, and if you do win, you get an extra $25,000 in cash, just, yano, for fun.
So if you're interested in submitting an essay, check out the theater's website, give the guidelines another look, and check out the video below to sneak a peek of what might be your very own future movie theater. What kind films would you show if you won?