Archive | Military (MWR)

Open Air Cinema to Bring Hollywood to the Mojave Desert

Smith's Drive-in

From Austin, Texas — home of pioneer for outdoor movies in the military Jim Maloy — to sunny California, where The 29 Palms Military Film Festival aims to bring Hollywood to the Mojave Desert, America’s Sun Belt states just can’t get enough of movies under the stars.

Throughout our history, Open Air Cinema, a global leader in outdoor cinema equipment, took pride in being able to entertain and inspire troops and their families with movies under the stars. We did it in Ukraine. We did it further east across the Eurasia.

This is why when back home, we were approached by Basic Lead, a Los Angeles, California-based event management company, asking us about the inflatable screen technology for their film festival in the Mojave Desert we had no second thoughts about it.

Variety advert for the California-based 29 Palms Military Film Festival

Variety advert for the California-based 29 Palms Military Film Festival

Not sure about the audience size (viewers will definitely come out in droves), Marc Berry, marketing executive at Basic Lead, knows one thing for sure — they want to bring Hollywood to the Californian desert.

And this is one of those cases when we at Open Air Cinema have no doubts: our Elite inflatable screens can handle the job!


Incirlik, Turkey: Military Base Hosts Dive-In Outdoor Movie in Incirlik, Turkey

Military Base Hosts Dive-In Movie in Incirlik, TurkeyOn Thursday, June 11, a dive-in movie was held at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. The American military base enjoyed a movie under the stars with friends and families. Turkey’s warm weather made an excellent opportunity to see an outdoor movie while kids and families swam in the base pool. “Grease” was the film of choice and was hosted by the 39th Force Support Squadron. The dive-in movie gave soldiers and their families an opportunity to relax and have some fun. Kids and parents alike enjoyed the outdoor film, and movie-goers expressed a hope for movies in the future.


War Veteran, Outdoor Cinema Pioneer

Jim Maloy (right). Photo by Gazette: David Bradford

Jim Maloy (right). Photo by Gazette: David Bradford

Jim Maloy of Oak Hill, Texas, has been enamored with the world of outdoor cinema since he was a child. From a part-time job at a drive-in, to military service in WWII, to his career back in the US, outdoor movies have always played an important role in his life. His service to his country and community through the use of outdoor cinema led to the feature article in the Oak Hill Gazette, featured below. He was a pioneer for outdoor movies in the military, and now military bases around the world entertain and inspire troops and their families with movies under the stars.

Jim Maloy was born in 1922 and grew up in Austin. From early adolescence he nurtured a burning interest in cinema and theater projection. He was the kid in middle school whom the teacher asked to run the science-film projector. When the school purchased a fancy new projector system, he was the kid who stayed after school to help the salesman install it (and to pepper the salesman with eager questions). Maloy’s interest convinced the salesman to make him a part-time assistant; they traveled a five-day circuit showing outdoor films in small towns that lacked a theater. Maloy was 14 years old.

In high school he worked at the local drive-in movie theater. He hung around the projection booth as much as possible in order to learn the technicalities of the outdoor movie business, but was happy just to be able to watch movies under the stars night after night.

Maloy’s progression through the local cinematic ranks was delayed by the outbreak of World War II. Like many men during this time, Maloy volunteered for military service, and in 1942 he was transferred to Fort Warren, Wyoming. When his audio-visual skills were discovered, he was assigned to a regimental theater on base, where he showed training and entertainment films from 7 A.M. until after 8 P.M. After nearly a year, Maloy was promoted to corporal and moved to a more prominent base theater, and soon his duties included working live shows. There, Maloy met Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Ginger Rogers, Phil Silvers, and comedian Edgar Kennedy (one of the original Keystone Cops).

In 1943, Maloy’s unit boarded an Atlantic convoy that docked in Casablanca after a nine-day journey. Eventually arriving in Bizerte, Tunisia, without a duty assignment, Maloy sat around for two or three days, but this did not suit his temperament. Across the parade grounds from his barracks he saw a sign that read, “Special Services Section.”

Maloy entered this building, introduced himself to the dumbfounded major on duty, and modestly suggested that his skills might be of some use to this unit. The major readily agreed. Maloy got his transfer orders the next day, and soon he was driving a jeep loaded with projectors, a folding screen, a generator, and electrical cable. With this equipment Maloy ran outdoor cinema shows for the troops seven nights a week. His traveling outdoor movies were an important boost of morale for the troops, and it was Maloy’s dream assignment.

As the Allied troops marched up Italy’s boot in support of the Normandy invasion, Maloy’s unit followed close behind. Near the close of the war, he returned to Austin and married (and is still married to) an attractive redhead named Edna. Soon after the war ended, he quickly established himself in projection rooms around town.

The love for cinema that has defined large portions of Maloy’s life is obvious. Two major threads run through Maloy’s narrative: his service to his country and his love of cinema.

Source: “Film professional recounts six decades behind the projector” by David Bradford -Oak Hill Gazette. Read full article at:


Tan Son Nhut, Vietnam: Outdoor Movie Screen Brought Entertainment to Vietnam Soldiers on Tan Son Nhut Military Base

Outdoor Movies on the Tan Son Nhut Military Base, VietnamWatching outdoor movies is probably the most popular pastime of Tan Son Nhut AB military personnel despite their wide participation in a variety of other recreational activities also available on the military base. Attendance figures from MSgt Tom Romer, manager, show that the outdoor movies at the Base Theather attracted 6,563 customers in March. This was for 164 showings.

The free movies, shown on an outdoor movie screen five nights a week at the four main barracks areas at TSN, drew another 5,200 viewers. This included 92 showings. The Base Theater has a capacity of 242. Some showings, usually in the evenings, often are sold out, especially for hit films. It is not unusual for movie buffs at TSN to wait an hour and a half, or longer, in line to purchase a ticket. Another half-hour wait faces them before the doors open.

Such was the case recently when “Murderers Row”, starring Dean Martin, played here. The same was true for “The Professionals”, which featured Lee Marvin and Burt Lancaster.

One ardent movie fan refused to be dismayed by the Sold Out Sign posted in the ticket window when “The Professionals” was playing. He simply had to get in. He did. He bought a ducat for $ 2.50 from someone waiting in line to enter the theater.

The outdoor movie theater is to get new seats also. The present wooden ones are old and badly worn. “When they break,” the sergeant reports, “they often can’t be repaired.” About 50 steel folding chairs are being used temporarily. This too has its drawback. Each Sunday afternoon the Personnel Services Office borrows the chairs to use at one of their recreational programs in a barracks area.

The free outdoor movies come from Armed Forces Motion Picture services, according to SSgt Billy Goodson who conducts the program. Some of the films have been shown at the Base Theater. The barracks areas usually get them two weeks later.

Licensed projectionists, who are paid for their services, show the films. They are few break-downs. They do a professional job.

None of the barracks areas have permanent seating. Viewers bring their own chairs — and mosquito repellent.

Article originally published on May 10, 1967 in the Air Force News.


Outdoor Movies Enjoyed by American and Japanese Soldiers Alike on Air Force Military Base in Guam

Outdoor Movies on Air Force Military Base in GuamThe war- WWII- was over and the men of Robert Allen’s 588th Squadron of the 20th Air Force celebrated when the new outdoor movie amphitheater was built at Harmon Army Airfield on Guam.

The setup included benches on the hillside across from the screen.

The outdoor movies were well-attended, but not everyone stayed for the closing credits. After a few shows, Allen and the others noticed that a small group of “patrons” on the far back benches always got up before the film was over. Instead of walking toward the barracks, they headed back up into the hills.

“We finally figured out it was Japanese soldiers who came down from their caves to watch,” Allen says. “We knew they didn’t have any weapons or supplies so we weren’t worried about them. We just left them alone. I guess they got pretty comfortable with things.”


Okinawa, Japan: United States Marines Screen Outdoor Movies on the Lawn of Military Base in Japan

Outdoor Movies Screened on an Inflatable Movie Screen on a Marines Military Base in Okinawa, JapanService members and families from Okinawa bases in Japan laid out blankets and set up lawn chairs at Camp Kinser’s Roberts Field to watch a free triple-feature outdoor movie, compliments of the Single Marine Program.

The outdoor movie night was the first run of SMP’s “Movies on the Lawn,” an event meant to attract single Marines and families to a relaxed environment that appeals to all ages, according to Marika Takayama, the administrative support assistant with Camp Foster SMP.

SMP’s movie lineup featured “Finding Nemo,” “The Benchwarmer” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.”

“We did a family movie first so children could enjoy their time,” Takayama said. “The second movie was aimed at teenagers, and the third was for the adult crowd.”

SMP organizers set up an inflatable 20-by-20-foot movie screen and four speakers, which they positioned to give the viewers the full theatre experience.

“Back home we called this a dive-in,” said Lance Cpl. Mark Parker, a small arms technician with 3rd Materiel Readiness Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, who came up with the idea for the event. “We would hold it at the lake, and people would pay admission. They could pull their boats up and watch the movie. We did it to raise money for school.”

Parker said the outdoor movie night was a test run. If response is strong enough, the Camp Kinser SMP could hold Movies on the Lawn on a regular basis.

“We would love to do this again; it was a great event.” Takayama said. “It turned out well, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.”

SMP volunteers used the event to raise funds for the program by running a concession stand with hot dogs, popcorn, chips, water and sodas.

“I really enjoyed it,” said Pfc. Thomas Divittore, a Marine with 3rd MRB, 3rd MLG, who came to watch “The Benchwarmers.” “The weather was nice. There weren’t any bugs. And the sound was great.”

Single and unaccompanied Marines and sailors on all camps can participate in SMP events. Camp Kinser SMP coordinators try to hold at least two events per month and have scheduled their next event for Aug. 18, said Lance Cpl. Ebony E. Rhodes, president of the Camp Kinser SMP.

Read full article at:


Guantanamo Bay, Cuba: Outdoor Movies Boost Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) at 'Gitmo' Military Base

Guantanamo, Cuba: Outdoor Movies Boost Morale, Welfare and Recreation at Gitmo Military Base This is not your typical deployment location in the war on terror. Troops here get to scuba dive in their off time and have an assortment of restaurants and bars to unwind in at the end of long days spent guarding enemy combatants.

The troops who manage the detention facility here belong to Joint Task Force Guantanamo. They’re deployed for varying tour lengths from all services, both active and reserve components.

“They come here on deployment, and they’re actually coming to a place that is not as bad as (many) deployments,” said Navy Capt. Leslie J. McCoy, commander of the naval base.

JTF Guantanamo is a tenant organization on the base. The 2,200 JTF personnel live alongside the roughly 9,000 permanent-party sailors, family members, U.S. government civilians and contractors, and third-country nationals who reside and work here.

Sailors assigned to the base typically come for three-year tours and can bring their families. Deployment length for troops assigned to JTF Guantanamo depends on their service. Soldiers typically deploy for one year, Marines and sailors for six months, and airmen for four-month stints.

Living conditions vary considerably within the JTF. Enlisted servicemembers generally live in prefabricated individual buildings, which they call “houses” with a touch of cynicism. The shipping-container-like quarters each house four to six servicemembers. The troops typically divide the space as evenly as possible and then partition “rooms” by hanging blankets and shower curtains.

Each building contains a bathroom with a toilet and a sink. And men’s and women’s community latrines, with showers, sinks and toilet stalls, are located within each group of quarters.

Senior enlisted members and officers generally live in converted Navy family housing left over from when the base housed a larger population of permanent- party personnel. For instance, one two-bedroom apartment might be assigned to four junior officers.

Troops live and work together here depending on what their jobs are, but irrespective of their service. “I think it’s an important part of how they form as a team to that they can do their mission here in the JTF,” said Army Brig. Gen. Jay Hood, commander of JTF Guantanamo. “We have members assigned to the JTF that have come from assignments around the world, and so it’s important that we allow them to live and work together and know each other and build as a team.”

Living conditions for the servicemembers have improved considerably since the military began sending prisoners here more than three years ago. “If you go back and look at early pictures of the JTF, our troopers were all living in tents, eating out of temporary dining facilities,” Hood said.

And officials continue to seek ways to improve living conditions. “Ideally what we’d like to do is have them all housed in barracks, so we’re now looking at plans to do that,” McCoy said. “We’re trying to take as best care of (the JTF troops) as we can to ensure their quality of life is good. And part of that is to ensure they live in good rooms, good barracks or houses wherever they are.”

“Gitmo” also is loaded with morale, welfare and recreation facilities and opportunities. Servicemembers can rent boats and fishing equipment, become certified in scuba diving, or spend their time off snorkeling and watching the vast array of aquatic wildlife that fills the crystal-clear waters of the bay and surrounding Caribbean Sea.

Aside from water sports, the base features a golf course — troops generally play with hot-pink balls because white balls are too easy to lose in the gray desert landscape — a brand-new miniature golf course, several gyms and outdoor sports fields, and two outdoor movie theaters. Considering the year-round warm weather and scant rainfall — it rains only about three to five times a year here — movies rarely are cancelled.

“They come to a small community. We provide a sense of normalcy for those who are (deployed) here,” McCoy said. “They can come to our churches; they can take part in our college programs (and) the MWR facilities.”

In turn, the captain explained, the base gets a lot from the JTF members deployed here. Since nearly 70 percent of Joint Task Force Guantanamo is made up of reserve-component members, they bring a lot of civilian-acquired skills with them.

“We get people here who are teachers, people who have different functions in their towns that they bring to Guantanamo Bay,” McCoy said. “So actually the synergy that we have with the joint task force works out very well. We help support one another.”

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Military Bases Host Outdoor Movies for Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines

Military Bases host Outdoor Movies for Navy, Army, Marines and Air ForceIt’s the sort of tall tale that quickly becomes an Internet legend. True or bogus? It was a hot topic about a year ago.

At a military theater at Camp Anaconda, Balad – a gigantic military air base in Iraq, dubbed “Mortaritaville” by the inhabitants, and the only base with a modern 35-millimeter projection system – the evening performance started, as they always do in military theaters, with a recording of the national anthem. The military audience stood at attention. It’s one of the things that never changes on a military base, a link to the continuity of culture inside the armed forces.

This night, something went wrong with the recording. It stopped. It started, then stopped again. More than 1,000 military airmen waited, standing at attention. Then one began to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” then another, and then the entire audience joined in, remaining at attention, and then sat down to enjoy the movie. Which was, apparently, “Superman 3.”

The incident would be no surprise to anyone who grew up in the military-theater system, or anyone who has even attended a movie on a military base. It would be unthinkable to begin a movie in a military base without the national anthem, generally illustrated with swooping images of aircraft, broad landscapes and fluttering flags.

Military theaters are part of the vernacular architecture of life in the armed forces, and have been ever since Edison started hand-cranking nitrate. Every military installation has a theater, or at least the reconstituted remains of one or more.

Movies on military bases are a function of the Morale, Welfare and Recreation branch of base-support services. They’re staffed by civilians and moonlighting GIs. Films are distributed via two chains, one an Air Force/Army system administered by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, and the other a Navy/Marine system. The movies lag behind civilian theaters by about a month, and the larger theaters often have “sneak previews” of newly released films, generally free to the first couple of hundred patrons.

Admission is a couple of bucks. These theaters aren’t run as moneymakers, they are a service to military families and active-duty personnel.

Every Oahu military base used to be awash in movie theaters, particularly during the war years. Every housing area had one, often an open air cinema in a natural outdoor theater. Only four primary military theaters remain, although some have been converted to other uses. Like civilian theaters, they are victims of cheap DVDs, cable TV and movies that you can’t watch in an open air theater with your mother or commanding officer present.

There was a time, though, when the theaters changed films every night, and the Air Force and Army films were 25 cents a seat, the Navy and Marine movies were 15 cents, and a military brat with a fast bicycle and a dollar could see three per night and still have enough change left over for a couple of Baby Ruths.

Those days are gone, but the military theaters remain. Like old soldiers, though, they’re fading away.

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