Lighting Up the Gem

For those of you who consider heading to the movies after a day on the slopes, you are in luck. A couple who moved to the area in 2009 from central Maine have embarked on a journey of epic proportions. They are raising money to open the old Casablanca Theater in Bethel. And, they are off to a great start.

Now called The Gem Theater, the space will be used for children’s movies, ski movies, large blockbusters, and potentially an art gallery. Currently, Beth Weisberger and Wade Kavanaugh are raising money to purchase the building and digitize the largest theater in the building through pre-purchased ticket bundles, a Kickstarter campaign, and on-site fundraising screenings. The Gem has been showing art films, wide-release motion pictures, and family-oriented movies as they work toward their goal. And, to sweeten the deal, Sunday River has pledged $20,000 to match each ticket-bundle purchase.

When speaking with Beth and Wade about The Gem, you immediately notice their enthusiasm to work on this project with the community. Already active in social media and reaching out to local residents via various channels, Beth and Wade are responsive to ideas and quick to consider what the Bethel area wants most from their movie theater.

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The goals are well defined and their vision is compelling. Beth, who also owns Gneiss Spice, which specializes in magnetic spice racks, expresses the need for movies that appeal to families, such as Free Birds and Inside Out, which aired in November. Wade, an artist and Nordic ski coach for Telstar High School and the Bethel Outing Club, focuses on the art house aspect of the theater, showing genuine passion for such smaller movie projects as the critically acclaimed End of the Tour about an interview and road trip with bestselling author David Foster Wallace and a Rolling Stone reporter, or Troublemakers, a documentary about the major players in what is considered “Land Art” from the late 1960s and early 1970s.

To round out the marquee in December, The Gem is planning to show Mr. Holmes with Sir Ian McKellen; Amy, a documentary about Amy Winehouse; The Martian with Matt Damon; A Walk in the Woods with Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, and Emma Thompson; and big family favorites like, Minions and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. 

To raise money to digitize the largest screening room in the building—therefore allowing them the ability to screen current blockbusters—Beth and Wade need to raise $40,000. To reach that goal, they are offering pre-purchased movie passes and popcorn for a single person, in groups of two, or for families of four. Or, supporters can purchase a “discount movie pack,” a pack of 10 tickets with popcorn, for only $90. As stated, Sunday River will match those ticket purchases.

Each movie pass is good for first-run movies, independent films, and classic pictures. Each ticket includes a small popcorn and there is no expiration date.

If you would like to reach Beth Weisberger directly to offer your support, you can email her at thegemtheater@gmail.com.

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