Latest movies show free

By Pfc. Abel Trevino
28th Public Affairs Detachment

LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq — Before Soldiers can view first run shows at the Sustainer Theater the process of getting movies here takes weeks of time and effort, initially beginning at the Army Air Force Exchange Service headquarters in Dallas.

"The films go through our distributorship in Dallas, Texas," said Hector Ortiz, manager of Sustainer Theater. "Then they are shipped here [overnight]."

Their commitment to getting movies here quickly comes at a price.

"The shipping is expensive. If we shipped [the movies] from Europe, it'd take about six weeks to get here after the stateside premier," Ortiz explained. "It's more expensive this way, through the states, but it gets here faster from the states."

Since movies are free to attendees at LSA Anaconda, payment for the films comes through an Army-AAFES process that revolves around the sign-in sheet for the headcount of viewers.

"The distributors have agreed to take payment for only a small percentage of the attending audience," Ortiz said. "AAFES pays the [distributors] and the Army reimburses AAFES. That's why everybody signs in and [the sign in sheet] goes to AAFES accounting offices. They create a bill and the Army pays per head."

The actual showing of a movie generates no profit and other costs, including the 21-person staff, are paid for by money earned through the concessions stand.

"The concessions pay for operating costs, personnel and shipping [of snacks and movies]," Ortiz said.

Despite the costs to AAFES for this turnaround, movies are free to all personnel on the post.

"Cost has never been an issue to us. The issue is to get the films here as soon as possible," Ortiz said.

Troop morale is behind the intent for films getting here quickly.

"This is all for the troops, for morale," Ortiz said. "They are coming here and they forget for two or three hours that they are in Iraq."

Ortiz's goal has been to create an environment that facilitates that kind of relaxation.

"It's a piece of home, for the most part. We have everything they offer in the states: hot dogs, candy, cokes and nachos. As a plus, we have pizza," Ortiz said. AAFES headquarters controls the movies that are shown here.

"Headquarters has a movie picture department, they have contacts with the different distributors and they work out which movies come here," Ortiz said. "For the most part, any movie released in the states we have access to."

Movies are sent to the Sustainer Theater in two forms.

"I get two releases, a first run release and a regular movie release and they tell me what day the movies will [arrive]," Ortiz said. "All first run films will come back four to five weeks later as regular releases."

Ortiz and his staff at the theater work to ensure moviegoers feel at home in Sustainer Theater.

Editor's Note: Pfc. Trevino is assigned to the 28th Public Affairs Detachment from Fort Lewis, Wash. He is currently deployed to Iraq in support of the 13th Corps Support Command at LSA Anaconda.


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Sustainer Theater