Brunswick cinema's crowd-funding success could lead to expansion
BRUNSWICK — More than 260 online donors have agreed to give Eveningstar Cinema enough money to pay off debt on a new digital projector.
The business raised more than $46,000 on SeedAndSpark.com, which owner Barry Norman said he will use to pay his bank – and to look at plans to change the single-screen cinema into a multiplex.
Norman previously said the 34-year-old Maine Street movie theater could have closed by the end of 2014 if he couldn't find a way to pay off the debt accumulated to convert to modern film equipment standards.
On Tuesday he said he is in discussions to be the anchor tenant of a mixed-use downtown development proposed by Topsham-based architect Steve Normand.
If the cinema could expand to multiple screens, Norman said, it would improve business, open opportunities for film festivals and provide more options for independent film buffs.
"The end game has been the same for years," he said. "We need more screens to continue to compete in the future and more screens will allow more programming and more diversity. It will create a better situation financially and for the community at large."
Norman said he will have to seek additional funding to help make the plans a reality – an effort he attempted last fall with a failed crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo.com to raise $250,000.
He said a funding request he made to the Brunswick Development Corp. was rejected on Sept. 18.
Neither Norman nor Normand said they could discuss the specific location of the proposed downtown development because planning is still in its preliminary stages, but both acknowledged the plans.
"It would be very exciting to have (Eveningstar) as part of the development," the architect said, adding that the project has been in the works for the last year.
Normand, who runs Normand Associates Architects and has developed other properties in the area, including The Gateway Offices and Conference Center in Topsham, said he is looking at multiple sites for the development, including one in Topsham.
In addition to hosting Eveningstar, the development space could include about 7,000 square feet of retail space and 14 residential apartments.
Normand said he hopes the development will move forward soon, but any number of things that developers typically deal with could cause it to slow down.
Even if the development doesn't move as quickly as hoped, Norman said he is exhausted by the 45-day crowd-funding campaign, but thankful for its 263 backers from all over the world.
Norman said some of the rewards for backers, including free movie passes and popcorn and other gifts for film buffs, will be available as soon as the funding is validated. Even if the free passes and popcorn mean a little less revenue in the future, he said it will be worth it.
"It's going to be a lot of work, but work I'm happy to do," Norman said. "That might sack revenue a little, but nothing compared to what I'd be paying out for the projector debt. I'm more than happy for the trade out."