Effective Sunday, September 18, the Colonial Theatre will close until its ownership has transferred to another party. While expected to be momentary, the duration of the theatre’s closure is unknown. The theatre is currently listed with agent Michael Cunning through Worth Real Estate.
We have been blessed to have a twenty-seven-year run at caring for the 110-year-old theatre and we’ve loved almost every minute. When we took over the theatre the lobby was filled with a videotape rental shop, there was no internet, kids used payphones to get a ride home, real 35 mm film rolled through the projectors, the restrooms looked like a place not to linger, and there were just two tired old screens.
Today there are three fully modernized digital theatres including the grand ‘Dreamland’ with balcony, and the Colonial Theatre is doing well and positioned comfortably to go another hundred years. It is time for the next generation of people who love movies, theatre, community, and the public to present life at The Colonial Theatre.
Having a downtown theatre is not only a cultural anchor and social center, but an economic engine for the area as well. The Colonial Theatre has the added distinction to be a piece of living history with 110-years of movies shown. It is located in a designated Historic District, and in 1995 the United States Department of the Interior placed The Colonial Theatre on the National Register of Historic Places.
Just as we could not imagine the Colonial Theatre without John Grant after he had served for nearly fifty years as the manager and face of The Colonial Theatre we know this change may roil the waters; change makes people nervous. But we are excited to hear what new managers of this beloved rock of Belfast’s foundation will bring to the programming and management of the theatre. New people bring new ideas. We’re proud of what we have done but we know there are great creative minds with ideas just waiting to spring onto the screen and stage.
Thank you to the many people who have supported us and the Colonial in so many ways. There’s really no way to list all the staff who have truly made the Colonial what it is, the volunteers who do so much, the loyal fans and theatre-goers, the “Friends of the Colonial” who came to the rescue when the digital conversion loomed, everyone who’s given a “quarter for conversion”, and the thousands and thousands of people who troop to the theatre to hear a talk, listen to a concert, celebrate an event, and most importantly enjoy a movie: thank you all. You mean the world to us.
When people go to the movies, the greatest storytelling medium ever created we believe, they “suspend disbelief” and give themselves over to the story. We often look back into the faces of people watching a movie and it’s as if they have been taken far away by the stories unfolding on the screen. We count ourselves enormously lucky to have been carried away by the movies and The Colonial Theatre.
We’ll keep you posted on developments. Thank you again and “We’ll see you at the movies.”
Therese Bagnardi and Mike Hurley
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