By Sydney Beecher, Contributing Writer
After Governor Janet Mills announced that drive-ins theaters could reopen in May, Narrow Gauge Cinema in Farmington began offering drive-in movies, a concert series, and various other events to the community. Near the end of August, the cinema began offering indoor screenings every weekend for the near future.
When Franklin Savings Bank heard of Mills’ plan to reopen drive-ins in May, they knew that they wanted to help offer a safe activity to local communities. The bank decided to partner with John Moore, the owner of Narrow Gauge Cinemas, to sponsor a month’s worth of movies. “When Franklin Savings said that they wanted to sponsor a show, we were thrilled. When they said they wanted to sponsor the first four weeks, we were more than happy to collaborate on yet another community event with the organization,” Moore said in a statement to The Daily Bulldog. Together, Narrow Gauge Cinema offered moviegoers four different movies each week for a month, ranging from new releases to the classics.
When they finished screening those movies in June, Narrow Gauge introduced a lineup of live music to perform throughout the summer. These three hour-long shows featured bands like Ghost of Paul Revere, David Mallett and the Mallett Brothers Band, and the Rustic Overtones.
Miranda Kramer, a sophomore, attended two concerts at the drive-in and loved the experience. “The newly renovated drive-in accommodated social distancing guidelines very well. Everyone was spaced out in their own spots,” said Kramer. “We had a perfect view of the stage and the bands, even from two rows back. Both of the concerts were the highlight of my summer.”
In August, Narrow Gauge Cinemas was finally able to reopen its indoor theater for the first time in over five months. In order to comply with Maine’s guidelines, the cinema had to make some changes to the theater setup. Among the first few visitors was Cam Foss, a sophomore, who saw a variety of movies last semester at the cinema. “It was definitely a different experience than when I went to Narrow Gauge in the spring,” said Foss. “There were a few rows taken out to maintain social distancing, so there were fewer seats and a lot of legroom between each row. Either way, I was glad that the theater reopened and I can watch movies in-person again.”
Since Maine has been experiencing a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases, Narrow Gauge has had to change some of their policies in order to create a safer environment for moviegoers. According to a Facebook post made by Moore on Narrow Gauge Cinema’s page on Oct. 30, the capacity in each theater room has been reduced to 20 people per theater show, customers are asked to be no earlier than 15 minutes to their show, and the drive-in will be continuing to offer movies as long as people are going for $10 a carload. “We have every intention of staying open and are adjusting our protocols in hopes to do that,” the post says. “We think it is important to have some continuity as a business…We thank everyone for their continued support.”
Moviegoers are asked to wear a mask until they are seated. The indoor theater offers $5 tickets to all moviegoers and plans to remain open every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for the near future. To find out an updated list of movie screenings, visit https://narrowgaugecinema.net or Narrow Gauge Cinema’s Facebook page.