Criterion Theatre

35 Cottage Street,
Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Unfavorite 5 people favorited this theater

Criterion Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Criterion Theatre is a glorious, well-preserved Art Deco style theatre, located in the heart of downtown Bar Harbor.

Opening in 1932, it has served the town of Bar Harbor as a movie palace ever since, accomodating such prominent families as the Rockefellers on their vacations to nearby Mount Desert Island.

Kept in fantastic condition over the years, the theatre still has most of its original interior: seats, curtains, and even the original lighting board for stage performances. The Criterion Theatre also contains a floating balcony, which is rare for most movie palaces.

A true gem!!

Sadly closed in early-summer of 2011, it was reopened May 28, 2015.

Contributed by David

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on August 14, 2006 at 6:39 am

Last week I enjoyed a 4 day vacation up in Bar Harbor and had a chance to take a number of photographs of the beautiful Criterion Theater. I posted them all to my photobucket account here.

And if you want the abridged highlights:

Exterior at night
Box office
Ticket vestibule
Entrance doors from lobby
Left mezzanine foyer
Right mezzanine foyer
Balcony section view
2nd balcony section view
View of “floating” balcony
Auditorium ceiling chandelier
Rear of house
Proscenium view
Stage view
Front auditorium sidewall detail
Rear orchestra detail
Seat row end cap detail
Marquee detail
Rear exterior view

I know that seems fairly exhaustive, but there are some 46 images in total in my photobucket album. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to watch a movie in the theater. The films run twice nightly (around 7 or 7:30 and again around 9 or 10) and the program changes every couple of days. The night I arrived and first found the theater, it was too late to catch that evening’s 10pm show of “Pirates of the Caribbean” and by the following night, the show was changed to the animated “Ant Bully” – which I really didn’t want to sit through.

The folks that run the place were exceedingly laid back and really nice and allowed me to enter the building and take as many photos as I wanted without charging me for admission (as I was doing so, patrons were entering the theater for that evening’s 1st screening). As you might be able to see from the exterior rear shot, the lot on which the theater was built slopes up to the street entrance. This creates a rather unorthodox ticket lobby floor that slopes DOWN from the entrance to the foyer. The small foyer features a candy counter against the rear auditroium wall and a twin set of stairs leading up to the mezzanine at either side. Up the right stairway, there is a small beverage counter tucked into the corner and a couple of vintage posters (see the photo above). The right stair case is kept closed until the end of the movie, when it is used as an exit for balcony patrons.

The odd looking “floating” balcony is divided into 9 sections, each with 3 or 4 rows of seating (and some with tables in the front row). The art deco characteristics are wonderfully preserved (despite the odd missing fixture here and there) right down to the stenciling on the lobby cloak-room door. I hope that next time I get up there (and I do plan on returning) I’m able to enjoy a good movie at the Criterion. A true cinema treasure if ever there was one.

screenman on May 28, 2008 at 8:53 am

I was just in bar harbor maine this past weekend. And i did see a movie at the criterion its a awesome movie theater.i love it i did
get to see the new indiana jones movie i set in the brought back the times when i was young growing up in waltham mass

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 13, 2009 at 10:38 am

The Criterion in Bar Harbor is part of the Opera in Cinema network which presents opera and ballet performances from various European theaters.

RJT70mm on October 11, 2010 at 8:27 am

Robert A. Mitchell was a noted authority on motion picture projection. He was the technical editor of International Projectionist magazine as well as the author of Mitchell’s Manual of Practical Projection. I believe he was from Bar Harbor, Maine and died in 1965.
I was wondering if you know of this man?
Thank you,
Bob Throop

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 11, 2011 at 6:35 am

From the photos above, it appears that the theatre’s marquee was nicely refurbished sometime between 2006 and 2009. I imagine it was done for the 2007 season, which marked the 75th Anniversary of the Criterion’s opening. This would explain the addition of the “1932” at the crown of the marquee’s main facing.

TLSLOEWS on May 11, 2011 at 6:48 am

Very Very Nice,Thanks Ed.

maleman on May 8, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Sad news i had friends that where in Bar Harbor two weeks ago they told me the Criterion has closed.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 8, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Ugh! That is awful! And with the summer tourist season coming up? I always hoped to get back up there and actually catch a flick. As long as it’s still standing, I suppose there is hope.

mhvbear on May 8, 2012 at 7:33 pm

The theater actually closed early last summer.

RichardD on October 16, 2012 at 8:38 am

It was open the first week of September 2012 anyways! I was so disappointed it had been closed last time I was there. A little searching on Maine websites says it re-opened in July 2012 .. but still in some dispute to story:

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater