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News > Movies "reel' to a halt on base Oct. 1
Movies "reel' to a halt on base Oct. 1

Posted 9/21/2012   Updated 9/24/2012 Email story   Print story


by Rebecca Burylo
Air University Public Affairs

9/21/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, AL  -- Movies reel to a stop at the Maxwell-Weaver Theater Oct.1. Michael Allen, director of the 42nd Civil Engineer Squadron, who is in charge of all buildings on base, said there has been no decision so far concerning the future use of the theater.

The options are renovation for meetings and conferences or complete demolition. Though the building is old and holds a "potential historical eligibility" status, Allen added that the building could still be demolished. However, the process for such a decision could take six to nine months.

Lorenzo Salgado, Army and Air Force Exchange Service general manager for the Maxwell and Fort Rucker AAFES stores, is head of the daily operations of such facilities as the theater and exchanges. AAFES operates the theater and is responsible for the projection equipment, while the building itself is assigned to the host command.

Salgado said the decision to close the theater was an AAFES corporate decision based on the expense of adapting to the recent digitization of the movie industry. In 2008, the industry began converting over to digital projectors to accommodate the movies being released in digital formats.

"The industry is quickly converting to all digital, and by mid-2013, 35 mm film will no longer be produced. The cost of conversion to a digital system was not economically sound, based on the theater's patronage and earnings," said Salgado.

"We have a responsibility to protect our Airmen's money." The theater currently uses a 35 mm projection system, referring to the width of the film. Up until a few years ago, with the introduction of digitization, this type of film projection was the only format used in commercial movie theaters.

Also, contributing to the decision to close the theater was the limited number of sales and very few patrons attending the theater. "The patronage at the theater was limited," Salgado said. For some viewings, there were as few as two patrons. The attendance varied based on the popularity of the movie." Until October, movies will continue to show at regular times on Fridays at 7 p.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Organizations wishing to use the facility should contact the civil engineering squadron. The building currently housing the theater was originally dedicated to Maj. Gen. Walter Reed Weaver, (1885-1944), from the United States Army.

Weaver served as commanding officer at Maxwell Field during Alabama's Great Flood of 1929.

10/12/2012 1:16:20 PM ET
We attended one of the last showings. Almost didn't get to go due to lack of patrons. While I was happy to be allowed in I was a little disappointed that the film went out of focus at least twice and while we we had sound for the National Anthem we didn't have visual. I hope that the theater is saved. Architecturally it is one of the most interesting buildings on base in my opinion.
VS, MaxwellGunter
10/11/2012 10:57:04 AM ET
Sad to see there will no longer be a theater for the military audience located on base. My family attended 2 to 3 times a month. I believe if there was a survey done as to why attendance was down at this theater it would give better insite. It is hard to get customers to com to a theater with the problems that this theater has had to deal with. Bad sound cash only sales at the concession - no working credit card machine and wrong movies being advertised. Attendance records may be skewed do to the fact I personally have seen most of the attendees go in FREE because thay only arrived with credit cards in hand with no way to make the payment. From my experience family oriented movies had high attendance action or thriller oriented movies were lower in attendance do to the sound system that is low and muffled. All I ask is for the management to try to address the true underlying cause to the theaters demise and not judge it based on attendance only
Frequent Customer, Maxwell AFB-Gunter Annex
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