John Tibbetts, a Colonial Theatre employee for the last 35 years, puts a final “thank you” on the theater’s marquee. Photo by Jim Leonard

BELFAST — On the same day in 1912, the Titanic embarked on her maiden voyage from Southampton, England, while the Colonial Theatre opened in Belfast.

Colonial Theatre owners Mike Hurley, from right, Therese Bagnardi and employee Kyle Walton greet patrons at the theater’s final show. Photo by Michelle Christian

The Titanic lasted just a few days. The Colonial Theatre’s run lasted 110 years.

On Sunday, Sept. 18, the Colonial Theatre showed its last film, fittingly The Last Picture Show, to a standing-room-only crowd.

Theater owners Mike Hurley and Therese Bagnardi, partners in business and life, addressed the crowd, along with Belfast Mayor Eric Sanders, before the final show.

Hurley thanked movie-goers for their business and friendship throughout the 27 years he and Bagnardi have run the movie theater. Hurley also tipped his cap to his wife.

“Almost everything you see here, or experience here, that’s Therese,” Hurley said. “All the colors, all the design, all the brass… everything, that’s Therese.”


Sanders emphasized the theater’s importance to the town.

“The Colonial Theatre has done more for the town of Belfast than we could ever recognize,” the mayor said.

Among the crowd at Sunday’s final show was John Tibbetts, who has worked for the Colonial for 35 years.

“It’s the end of an era,” Tibbetts said. “It’s been a great run and Mike and Therese have been good to me.”

John Tibbetts, a Colonial Theatre employee for the last 35 years, puts a final Thank You on the theater’s marquee. Photo by Jim Leonard

The Colonial offered 71 free movies over the final 10 days it was open. For many, a trip to the Colonial was special.

“I’ve been coming here for years,” said Joey Jett of Bucksport. “This place is magical, not like other theatres. It’s heartbreaking to see it go. It’s kind of the soul of Belfast.”

Whether the 110-year-old theater will reopen is now front of mind for many in Belfast. Bagnardi, Hurley and Sanders expressed confidence that with the “dynamic” energy in Belfast, a group would be found to purchase the Colonial.

“The Colonial Theatre is the heart of Belfast,” Bagnardi said, “and this heart will go on.”

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