DARMSTADT, Germany — With reviews fresh off Ebert and Roeper’s lips, the AAFES/Hollywood Holiday Film Festival will have troops watching the newest films from Dec. 19 through Jan. 5.

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service and Hollywood have teamed up to let deployed troops throughout the Balkans and Middle East see some of latest blockbusters, such as “The Matrix Revolutions,” “Gothika,” and “The Last Samurai.”

The movies will be shown for free at theaters or will be brought to more remote locations on VHS. The theaters will also be showing “Timeline,” “Love Actually,” “Stuck On You,” “Master and Commander,” “The Haunted Mansion” and “Radio.”

On Christmas, the motion picture companies and AAFES will premiere “Cheaper By The Dozen,” both in theaters and on VHS, which is the same day it’s released in the States.

“This is by far the best line up of films to be offered by the studios in the six-year history of the event,” Richard Sheff, Vice President of AAFES’ Food and Theater Division said in a news release.

Through special arrangements made with AAFES for the Holiday Film Festival, motion picture distributors have all agreed to waive their normal royalty fees for the films, resulting in no charge to the military.

The event got its start when the command in Europe approached AAFES with the idea of showing a current major motion picture during the holiday season for the troops serving in Bosnia. AAFES contacted DreamWorks SKG Pictures about providing “Saving Private Ryan,” and the distributor was quick to oblige.

This began a bandwagon of companies climbing on board to continue providing current motion pictures to troops during the holidays, according to the release.

“We support our men and women in uniform year-round, but during the holidays it is especially important to show them that they are remembered and appreciated,” Twentieth Century Fox’s Julian Levin said in a statement. “Our troops sacrifice so much to serve our country and defend our freedoms, so we are proud and honored to participate in the 2003 AAFES/Hollywood Holiday Film Festival, which gives our servicemembers a small link to home.”

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