AAFES not showing 'The Tillman Story'
By DAN BLOTTENBERGER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 1, 2010
BAMBERG, Germany – “The Tillman Story,” a documentary exploring the U.S. government’s coverup after the death of former NFL football player Pat Tillman, will not be shown at Reel Time Theaters, Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials said Tuesday.
The film, which had a limited release on Aug. 20, opens to a wider audience on Friday.
But, troops serving in places such as Afghanistan, where the former Army ranger was killed by friendly fire April 22, 2004, won’t get a chance to see it.
AAFES is not shying away from the film because it paints the U.S. government and the Defense Department in a bad light, according to Judd Anstey, an AAFES spokesman. It’s not showing the film because exchange officials feel it would not appeal to a large audience of viewers.
“During the first week, the Tillman documentary was only featured at four U.S. theaters in the continental U.S., while “The Expendables” was shown at 3,270 theaters,” Anstey said. “Based on this fact, AAFES decides which movies are to be played based on which movies will appeal to the largest audience possible.”
“The Expendables” — a Sylvester Stallone action movie — appealed to the larger audience, he said.
Anstey noted that things like trade reviews, distributor availability and customer appeal were all factors in how AAFES decides which films to carry. Movies scheduled for limited release or rollouts by independent distributors are not considered, Anstey said.
On average, one film is selected a week and is offered in theaters beginning two weeks after the U.S. commercial release date. The movie is then circulated in Reel Time Theaters in Germany, Italy, England, Kuwait, Iraq, Korea and Japan, he said.
It’s not the first time AAFES has decided not to carry controversial films.
In 2004, the exchange did not show Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11,” which lambasted former President George W. Bush and his administration for their policies after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Nor did it show “Brokeback Mountain” the 2006 movie about a gay cowboy love affair.