Spotlight Cinemas In Orono Now Under New Ownership With New Name
Spotlight Cinemas opened up in Orono in the mid-1990s. Since then it's been providing folks in the community with a spot to take in great movies, for almost 3 decades!
This home-town, locally run theater has been the spot of many a first-date, first-time-big-screen viewing, and even a place for friends who have moved away from Maine, to catch back up while also catching a flick.
As one of its original crew members, I've seen Spotlight go through some changes, most of them cosmetic. They've changed around the lobby a few times, updated their theater chairs to stadium seating, and embraced necessary updates in technology.
But this week, the changes taking place at Spotlight Cinemas are on a bit of a grander scale...but still in keeping with the same spirit as a great little hometown theater.
For the past 3 decades, Spotlight has remained in the hands of the same folks who opened it originally. This week, however, ownership was transferred to a pair of traveling nurses, who grew up in the area and are now business partners.
Zach Hussey and Charles Moody grew up in town, and both have their own history with the theater.
Hussey said he first started working for the theater when he was in nursing school because he was such a fan of cinema.
"We both grew up in the area and went to Spotlight our whole lives. We love the movies. We've wanted to buy a movie theater for a long time. I actually worked at Spotlight. This is our first business. We're very excited and passionate about the movies. This is our passion project."
Hussey said the men are so excited to have the opportunity to continue their favorite hometown spot and help it grow further, out into the community.
"Our focus is the community. We really believe a theater should be at the center of a community so we really want to do a lot of events and host fundraisers and have a lot of exciting ideas...The big thing is I worked there. I loved Spotlight. I feel like they've offered a great movie experience for a long time. So we're gonna kind of just build off that with our own creative spin to it."
Along with the change in ownership, Hussey says one of the first things the pair wanted to do was to change the name of the establishment, to better reflect that it's a local spot that's plugged into the community, so they are rebranding Spotlight as Black Bear Cinemas.
"Being in a College town, we wanted people to know that it's a community theater and that's what it's about. It really felt like Black Bear Cinemas, when someone sees it they'll know that we're local. "
Hussey says that while they're in no way associated with the University, the Black Bear theme is something that seemed to represent well the greater Bangor community and even that of Maine. He hopes that will translate into folks recognizing that they're a hometown, locally run spot.
"That's the best thing about Spotlight. I love Spotlight. It's been a local theater and it's had that vibe for so long. It does not feel like a chain, and that's how we want to keep it."
Hussey says the theater will still honor any and all Spotlight gift cards or certificates after the official change.
Their first big movie due out the first weekend of their transition as new owners is the projected box-office hit "Barbie" and Hussey says they have been busy prepping the new Black Bear Cinema in honor of the premiere. They've gone so far as to paint their entire entrance Barbie Pink to celebrate.
"We really feel like when you go to the movies, it should be exciting. And as soon as you walk through the doors."
Hussey says they will be hosting an actual grand opening at some point in August, with the actual date to be determined.
Best of luck, gentlemen. We can't wait to see what you do with the place. Congrats.