SKOWHEGAN (AP) – Some central Maine residents will be getting a free preview of the HBO movie “Empire Falls” when it becomes available.

Bee Line Cable announced Tuesday that it will air the movie free of charge as a gift to its 9,200 subscribers. Bee Line is a subsidiary of HBO, which is producing the movie.

“Empire Falls,” which was shot in 2003 in Waterville, Skowhegan and other Maine towns, is based on Richard Russo’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about a Maine mill town down on its luck.

Bee Line transmits HBO on a scrambled signal, so the company will unscramble it and open it up to all cable subscribers.

, Allen said. The company serves subscribers in Skowhegan, Madison, Anson, Wilton, Farmington, Industry, Millinocket and East Millinocket, he said.

“If we didn’t do a free preview, it would generate a lot of revenue, but then subscribers would be disconnecting in a month. I just don’t need that aggravation,” Allen said. “It’s a gift for subscribers. It’s just a matter of flipping a switch.”

Allen said HBO is working on a premiere of the movie at the Waterville Opera House, which he said has been reserved for May 11, 12, 18 and 19 as possible dates.

“They are waiting on (Richard) Russo’s availability and talent and won’t know for a couple of weeks,” Allen said.

Information from: Morning Sentinel,

AP-ES-02-23-05 0217EST

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