Netflix might be convenient but nothing can beat watching a movie on the real big screen, in particular in a historic theater.

We’re lucky to have five very special theaters within a one hour drive of MDI. They have great architecture, varied programming (not just movies!), and give us a fun way to experience the latest movies. Check out one of these (we added the fifth one because it is in the process of being restored and has a really cool story).

The Grand, Ellsworth
Built: 1938, Seats: 480

The Grand shows films as well as hosting plays, concerts, and other live performances. They also do live broadcasts of operas at The Met. Probably their most well-attended event is the Banff Mountain Film Festival, a weekend long festival of outdoor films. The spacious auditorium features a gold, Art Deco trim and there is a room off of the lobby which originally was a smoking chamber. The Grand has been the mainstay of Ellsworth for many generations.
For upcoming events:
For a tour: Anyone is welcome to stop by 10:00am to 7:00pm Wednesday through Friday or noon to 7:00pm and get a tour. If you would like a tour other days or have a larger group, you can call (207) 667-5911 and they will be happy to set you up with a tour.

The Criterion, Bar Harbor
Built: 1932, Seats: 760

A staple of Bar Harbor’s Cottage Street, the stunning marquee lights up the whole street at night. Built during Prohibition, The Criterion even has an authentic speakeasy that was used back in the day (and sometimes for special events). They do, however, have a bar up on the balcony where you can enjoy a healthy libation or two while taking in a variety of films as well as plays and live performances. The building has been cleaned up and renovated nicely in recent years, so if it’s been some time since you’ve stepped in to The Criterion, you will be quite impressed.
For upcoming events:
For a tour: On days when cruise ships come in, they generally partner with Bar Harbor Ghost Tours for a 3:00pm tour that is not limited to cruise ship patrons. In addition, people are welcome to stop by any time The Criterion is open. Feel free to call (207) 288-0829 and they will be happy to give you a tour.
For a virtual tour:

The Alamo, Bucksport
Built: 1916, Seats: 123

The theatre hit some rough patches and was closed down until Northeast Historic Film bought it, rescued and renovated it back to life in 1992. Now it is a staple of Bucksport’s Main Street and the community as local schools enjoy activities there as well as a variety of films from current Hollywood hits to old classics and locally-produced films. This small theater is also often used for private events.
For upcoming events:
For a tour:  Call (207) 469-0924 or contact the theatre through their Facebook page

The Colonial, Belfast
Built: 1912 , Seats: 120-160

The Colonial Theatre opened its doors the same day the Titanic took sail. The Titanic may be long gone, but The Colonial Theatre still stands, offering a variety of Hollywood hits, foreign films, and high quality independent films. At times they also have live performances. The Colonial Theatre has three: Star (120 seats), City (120 seats), and Dreamland (160 seats). This is a wonderful family-oriented establishment, and in the holiday spirit they offer Free Family Matinees every weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

For upcoming events:
For a tour:  Call Mike at (207) 338-1975 or email him at

The Milbridge Theater (Currently Closed)

The Milbridge Theater was built in 1937 and closed down in 2014 with the passing of its owner, Dave Parsons. This theatre was certainly a throwback with Parsons playing the player piano before a show. The theatre is dearly missed as some Downeast residents and there is a movement afoot to bring it back. They do currently have an outdoor stage showing movies and performances and the schedule is posted to the website:

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