Military bases losing their movies – Associated Press – POLITICO.com

Stacey Darling loves watching family movies at the Ellsworth Air Force Base theater in South Dakota because it’s so much more affordable than taking her three children to the multiplex in nearby Rapid City.

Darling, whose husband is an airman, has been catching second-run films on base for about 2 1/2 years, and was there Saturday for the theater’s last showing, a screening of the animated movie “Hotel Transylvania.”

The movie theater is among 60 around the globe run by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service that is screening its last picture show amid the industry’s conversion to digital projection.

via Military bases losing their movies – Associated Press – POLITICO.com.

Frankly, I’m a little surprised they haven’t shut them all down. 40 years ago, there were a lot more single troops, with much lower pay. Fewer single soldiers had cars to get off base, and televisions and other entertainment options in the barracks were pretty slim. So going to the base theater to see  The Sting was a pretty attractive option.

But even 25 years ago, my buddies and I would go off post to see movies, or of course, crank up our TVs and VCRs.

One interesting bit for you non-veterans out there. Before every showing, the projectionist plays the national anthem. Everyone stands, many of us sang, and almost inevitably, at the end of the anthem, a hearty “Hoohah!’ sounded off.

What was your favorite MWR activity? And which ones did you think were probably a waste?

7 thoughts on “Military bases losing their movies – Associated Press – POLITICO.com”

  1. Both as a “brat” and a serving soldier do I remember on-post theatre’s. Another source lists $120k per theatre to convert over to digital. Amongst the Hollywood “Support the Soldier” verbalizing I would hope that the entertainment community would foot that bill, if they can come up with the money. As a boy I thought standing for the National Anthem was a delay of the start of the movie in question, as a soldier in uniform it took on quite a different notion…..of course.

  2. The theater that sticks in my mind from when I served, and as a brat, was the one at NAVCAMS Guam as a kid. It was an open sided tin roofed shed affair. During a gully washer, the sound of the rain pounding tin would drown out the sound of the film.

  3. I never resented the National Anthem at the beginning of a movie in any of AAFEX theaters. It was completely natural to me and right.

    I was surprised that when I got on the ship, however, the anthem didn’t play at the start of a movie. I think the Anthem thing was a separate leader the theaters had, but we didn’t have it on the ships.

    Base/Post theaters were necessary at one time. Installations tended to be in isolated locations and small towns often didn’t have theaters of their own. They were needed in places like Germany as well, since the German theaters often didn’t run US movies in English. That started changing in the 70s. My youngest brother watched Star Wars off post in first run at a German Theater. As long as you were stationed near a large town/small city, at least, you could just about anything. Places like Baumholder or Wildflicken, were more isolated, and theaters were more important to those posts. Also, theaters were important to command gatherings as they were built with that function in mind as well. Most of us can remember them being used for such things. My son graduated Basic in the Ft. Sill theater. His AIT course at Jackson used the Chapel, but that was much smaller.

  4. Lots of good memories at base theaters. Naval Security Group Activity Skaggs Island (in Sonoma County just a stone’s throw from Napa County over the slough) and Fort Meade Md, were the best. At Skaggs’ the CO (then CDR Ince) was in Flight From Ashiya. We saw that a few times. All I remember was the continual rain. He was big on community theater as well.

    At Fort Meade saw Al Green give a concert!

    I was so used to uncomfortable seats that when I drove off base to my first theater, I wanted to put on my seat belt after I sat down. Not hearing the National Anthem prior to the movie was a culture shock, after 16 years of imprinting.

  5. WOW…Flight from Ashiya now that was a classic, and historically accurate relative to the Air Force mission at that point in time. My bottom line is that among the many MWR activities going/gone I believe the loss of the on post theatre’s to be the most mournful. QM….Baumholder brat & in uniform both. Ever see an “Atomic” cannon???

  6. I still remember the boot leg copy of Return of the Jedi my dad brought back from Norway to play in the theater in Keflavik….so bad…but yet so good.

  7. I recall the theater at CLNC that had the race riot and one Marine was killed in the fighting.
    I believe it happened to 1/6 and the MP’s being assigned to force those who would not stand and salute during the anthem to stand and salute.
    I recall the Black Power fists raised instead and the hassle of dealing with the un ending line ahead that made space for the Bros and kicked whitey to the end of the line, all the while doing the DaP.
    Those were the days!

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