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Hampton Movie Theater Closing Sunday After 29 Years

By Gina Carbone

Herald Sunday, Sunday, February 15, 2009

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

HAMPTON — This is it. The last day for Hampton Cinemas Six, which has been on Route 1 for 29 years. On Saturday, hundreds of patrons paid homage to the local landmark, which offered 1980 ticket prices in honor of its opening year.

“You’re talking to someone whose heart is broken!” said Rae Schwotzer, a 50-year resident of Hampton. “We’re all going to miss it.”

Schwotzer lives a block away from the theater. For five years she saw films there and wrote reviews. Saturday she came for a double feature of “He’s Just Not That Into You” and “Slumdog Millionaire.”

“This was a nice, clean theater, the staff was friendly, the food was good — I don’t have a bad thing to say about it.”

Schwotzer said she understands the financial issues that forced owner John Tinios to close the theater. “I can see them not being able to make enough money. Otherwise I’d hate him!” she said with a laugh. “This is a wonderful theater and I’m brokenhearted.”

The theater was crowded Saturday for the early matinees. A group from OdysseyNH came for the $4 tickets, and others called out their sympathies to the cashiers in the long box office line.

“We’re sad, you know.”

“We’re going to bring you a sympathy card!”

Joanna and John Coretto of Exeter came to see “Slumdog Millionaire” — and to say goodbye. “I think I’m coming again tomorrow,” said Joanna, who grew up in Hampton Falls. “I’m very upset about this.”

She said they’ll probably see movies at the Regal Cinemas in Newington now, but “I’m not very happy about it. It’s so expensive there.”

Sam Harrod is not happy for a slightly different reason. “I’m sad that I’m going to have to find a new job.” The Winnacunnet High School student has been working at the theater on weekends for a year and a half.

While the staff knew last summer that the theater was going to close, they only found out last week that it was going to close on Sunday. “We’d kind of been braced for it,” said Bryan Boucher.

“I was disappointed,” said Andrew Galvin, who like Boucher, has been working there for three years. Up until last week, Galvin said, they were expecting to be open at least until April.

“It’s been an ongoing thing,” said co-manager Sharaine Lavigne. “The first ‘rumor’ was (we would close) end of summer, then at the holidays.” She got three days’ notice on the final decision. “When I heard I thought ‘Oh, it’s for real.’ It’s so surreal. I don’t think it’s going to hit me till Sunday.”

Lavigne has been working at Hampton Cinemas for nine years. She’s been in contact with past and present employees and they are holding “a last blast party for alumni” at 8 p.m., where they will get together, hold a final screening and share experiences.

But mostly, she’s sorry to see it all end.

“I grew up in this place,” Lavigne said. “I’ve gone from working with these kids to supervising them to management. I love this place.”

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