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OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — The base theater here will show its last movie this Saturday night before closing for a stem-to-stern overhaul to include a new screen, sound system, seats and refreshments counter.

But airmen won’t be without movies: A temporary theater will begin operating Monday in Building 622. Saturday’s last movie, “Miracle,” rated PG, will give way Monday to “Win A Date with Tad Hamilton,” rated PG-13.

“We’ll show movies at the temporary theater on Monday … so there’ll be no loss of days of the theater being available here at Osan,” said Lee Holloway, Osan general manager for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service.

When the base theater reopens sometime in mid-August, it’ll have wider aisles, new flooring, walls and ceilings, a refinished stage, better lighting, the new projection screen and a Dolby digital sound system. High-backed seats with cupholders also are part of the package.

“What’s more frustrating than going into a theater and not having a cupholder?” Holloway said. “These are going to have cupholders.”

The theater also will be roomier, he said: Larger aisles mean customers no longer will “have to stand up to let somebody by who’s seated in the center aisle.”

The outside will have glass frontage and design changes will be made to the roof, Holloway said.

“So it’ll look like a brand new theater once you walk in and it’s gonna have a really nice feeling to it,” Holloway said.

Osan’s theater, built in 1966, last was refurbished in 1997, when new seats, floors and a screen went in, Holloway said.

But it’s time for an overhaul, he said.

The floors “are to the point where they’re cracking and the chairs are to the point where they’ve been utilized so much that they’re coming off the hinges and breaking apart and becoming a safety hazard.”

“And also, bringing in Dolby digital sound is one of the things we have to do to keep up with the motion picture industry’s requirements to show the movies that they send us,” Holloway said.

The project will cost an estimated $860,000. An American firm, CH2M Hill, will do both the design and construction, Holloway said.

Also set for change is the theater’s refreshments counter, currently called the Reel Time Express. It serves popcorn, pizza, hot dogs, nachos and candy. It’ll be revamped to provide quicker service and more items, Holloway said.

At the refreshments counter, popcorn, pizza and other foods will be cooked, packaged and ready for movie-goers. “Customers can more or less ‘grab-and-go,’” said Holloway. “No longer do you have to wait for someone to make popcorn for you … you can just grab your popcorn, your pizza … and just go and pay for it. It makes it a whole lot faster.”

Word of the coming improvements sounded good to Senior Airman Yahaira Burgos of the 51st Civil Engineer Squadron and Senior Airman Loni Sirois of the 51st Communications Squadron. Both are information managers.

They’d gone together to the base theater three weeks ago to see “Mona Lisa Smile”; the theater, they said, is an important part of their base life.

“I think that’s awesome,” said Burgos of the coming changes. “Anything that ends up improving the base, improving our way of life, I’m all for it … as long as they’re not taking it out permanently.”

That had also been a concern for Sirois at first.

“When I first heard about it,” Sirois said, “I was a little bit disappointed until I heard that there was going to be an alternative location because I do use the base theater a lot. Usually I go once a week.”


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