Cinema Contest 2015 PR


Robert Newton
(978) 309-8448

For $99 and 250 words, one lucky winner will receive $20K and keys to the kingdom

[Gloucester, MA * May 2, 2015]––On June 30, when Robert Newton retires from nearly 30 years in the movie business, he plans to hand the keys to his unique, living-room-style digital cinema in historic downtown Gloucester, Massachusetts to one lucky movie fan.

By way of a nationwide essay contest, Newton and his team will choose the next steward for the beloved local movie loft, The Cape Ann Cinema & Stage at 21 Main Street in Gloucester, which began full-time operation as an arthouse cinema in 2008. The most convincing 250-word “Why I Want To Own And Operate A Small Seaside Cinema” essay will receive a $20,000 cash gift and a majority ownership share of the business, with a smaller ownership share to be gifted to a well-suited lieutenant who already resides on the North Shore. The winner can use the $20,000 for any combination of business, homestead relocation, or living expenses they so choose. The winner can also choose to take the $20,000 cash gift and decline the ownership, allowing Newton to personally designate an alternate steward.

“There’s a B&B in Maine that wanted to assure that their years of hard work carried on beyond their departure, so they sponsored a contest like this one,” Newton explains, “and I thought that their continuity plan was pretty brilliant and would work well here. Also, our financial needs are much smaller than theirs were.”

With a local-level crowdfunding campaign via the online platform Indiegogo, the Cinema plans to be able to clear its books, pay back a small portion of the time and money invested by the tireless staff over the last 7 years, and provide transitional support for the new owner. Entries into the essay contest, which has an entry fee of $99, will allow Newton to essentially buy the Cinema from himself and gift it to the winner.

“I thought of what might happen if the response to this is overwhelming,” Newton adds, “and asked myself, ‘What would I do if 10,000 people enter this contest?’ After sleeping a night on the $1 million and getting my eyes Lasik’ed after reading a forest’s worth of essays, I will give back all the surplus funds raised by helping others seed small cinemas of their own design. Just call me Johnny Applescreen!”

After each of the two campaigns reaches a threshold of $100,000, and for every $25,000 raised beyond that, Newton will gift $25,000 worth of equipment and consulting to any community in the U.S. that can demonstrate the need, the plan, and the passion for starting a community cinema of their own. Should these circumstances allow, Newton and his team will consider applications starting July 1 and through December 31, and will announce the recipients on February 14, 2016.

“On Cape Ann, we have shown that we as a community are greater than the sum of our parts,” Newton says. “We now have the power to share this experience with other communities to help them create a magical resource like the one we have created here.”

More information on the contest can be found on its website,, and more information on the Cinema can be found on its website at

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