Curtain set to rise Oct. 6

Posted:  Wednesday, September 27, 2017 - 7:45am
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Calendar programming premieres at the new Harbor Theater (yes, that’s “er” not “re’) on Oct. 6, just five days after the non-profit, Harbor Theater (formerly Friends of the Harbor Theater), takes ownership of the region’s movie house.

The last week of each month, www.boothbaycinema.org will have the next month’s programming; i.e. the November calendar will be uploaded the week of Oct. 23. Changing over to this format lets Harbor Theater supporters and movie-goers see what’s playing in the coming month on their favorite silver screen.

Since he opened the doors to The Harbor Theatre in 2002, Jason Sheckley managed to get new releases, but they came at a cost. In order to bring these films to Boothbay Harbor, Sheckley had to show them for three, sometimes four weeks – exclusively – with the film companies taking 65 percent of gross sales. That figure drops to around 35 percent if a theater waits four to five weeks to book. The hope of the new Harbor Theater’s board of directors is that with the calendar programming, movie-goers will wait to see the films here rather than Brunswick.

But, this doesn't mean the Harbor Theater board won't try to get the new “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” film as a first-run this December in and May 2018, and other anticipated blockbuster sequels.

In addition to some first-run films, Harbor Theater will be screening festival-winning films, art, kid and independent films; meet the director-filmmaker-producer events that include a Q&A spot; and classic film favorites!

So, here’s the scoop: each week’s primary film will play Friday through Wednesday at 7 p.m. In October, those films are: "Columbus" (6-11), "Viceroy's House," (13-18); "Trip to Spain," (20-25) and "Rebel in the Rye" (27-Nov. 1). During the off-season, the theater will be closed on Monday and Tuesday. The exact date this will happen has not been determined. Ticket prices will be $10 for adults and $8 for children up to age 18.

Board member Helen Meserve explained (with some excitement) that on Thursdays and Fridays there will be an additional 2 p.m. show featuring movie classics, holiday classics, and art and retro films at regular ticket prices. On the third Thursday each month, however, all tickets will be $6. On Oct. 19, the third Thursday film is a Jimmy Stewart classic, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

There’s an emphasis on getting films parents and grandparents saw at the theater who want to see them again with their kids and grandkids,” said Ham Meserve, board vice president.

Community members who have movie suggestions – for the Thursdays and Friday afternoon shows, and each week’s primary films – are encouraged to let the board know.

"The theater is a community asset,” Helen said. “We want to know what movies people want to see – and will come to see. We also want to know if they like the films we run.”

Send suggestions to: info@boothbaycinema.org – or, if you know any of these folks … Board officers Bob Devine, president; Ham; Eugene Molinelli, treasurer; Alan Cleveland, secretary; Gwen Asplundh, Dorothy Ferrell, Doug Goldhirsch (volunteer coordinator - contact him at  info@southportislandmarine.com), Scott Larson, Helen  and Julie Perry. Advisory Board members are Sharon Goldhirsch, Andy Hamblett, Will Mackenzie (an Emmy award-winning TV producer whose credits include “Family Ties” and “Everybody Loves Raymond”); documentary filmmaker Jenny Mackenzie, Steve Malcom and Penny Pollard. 

"The future of this theater hinges a lot on the community's support,” stressed Ham. “Our goal is to prove we can survive one year. If all goes well we'll go for year two, and then year three.”

With survival in mind, affordable theater memberships are available – just $40 for an individual and $75 for families with up to five members – for Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2018. Members receive a $2 discount on all tickets, with the exception of Third Thursdays when tickets are $6 for everyone.

Sheckley, who is staying on as theater manager, is a vital part of the new Harbor Theater. In addition to writing press releases, updating the website, and managing the theater, he’ll be training board members and community volunteers to work behind the scenes – taking tickets, selling treats, stocking treats, cleaning, etc.

Turns out, Sheckley and the Meserves go way back – all the way to the Hudson Valley during their newspaper years. Sheckley, who has been in the “film biz for 45 years,” met them bringing in ads for publication. “He was surprised to see us the first time we came to the theater,” said Helen laughing. “And we said, what are you doing here?”

We couldn't do this without Jason,” Ham said. “His talents and experience are so critical. We are really dependent on him. We can structure the thing financially so it's not as daunting for him. This is a real partnership.”

The board is kicking around other ideas, including working with the schools to say, bring the film of a novel being read by students to the screen, and bringing back the student film festival to screening films as well as documentaries on health, the environment (and others) sponsored by an organization or business ... with a Q&A.

"I wholeheartedly support this group and I'm excited that they have taken on this enormous project," said Jason, adding, "My greatest wish is that we find the money, the will, and a location, to build a three-screen theater with an auditorium for plays and a home for Channel 7 studio.”

"But in the meantime " interjected Helen,  "The challenge is to come up with the programming the community wants to see ... Films are so good for the soul.”