You Could Win an Entire Movie Theater Just By Writing an Essay

Are you a good writer? Would you like to run a movie theater? If you said ‘yes’ to both of those questions, then boy, do we have an opportunity for you.

Mike Hurley, the owner of the Temple Theater in the tiny town of Houlton, Maine (population 6,123), has decided to give away his theater to whoever writes him the best essay.

Houlton, Maine

Entrants have to submit a typed essay of 250 words explaining why they think they’d make the best owner. The entry fee is $100, and Hurley hopes to get 3,500 essays, which would pay off the theater’s mortgage and leave $25,000 left over to get the winner started on their new business.

The prize cinema is a small one, with just two screens. Hurley purchased it in 2002 and painstakingly restored it, setting it up to play modern digital films and fixing it up again. It was a labor of love, but Hurley lives 150 miles away, in another town where he owns another theater. He’s tired of his commute, and wants to see his theater go to someone who will actually live in Houlton.

Hurley isn’t the first person to run an essay contest for ownership of his property. Similar contests have awarded writers with farms, restaurants, and a bed and breakfast in Hurley’s home state of Maine. Hurley was inspired by that contest in his home state, but he thinks his offer is a better deal.

“The idea of winning a bed-and-breakfast would drive me insane,” Hurley told The New York Times. “A movie theater is a fun business. The audience doesn’t blame you if the movie’s not good.”


Main image: Christopher Mills/The New York Times