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Frank DeSilva, public affairs specialist for Sasebo Naval Base's Morale, Welfare and Recreation department, tries out one of the new theater chairs being installed at the Showboat Theater. The 319 hunter green chairs are wider, better cushioned and equipped with drink holders.
Frank DeSilva, public affairs specialist for Sasebo Naval Base's Morale, Welfare and Recreation department, tries out one of the new theater chairs being installed at the Showboat Theater. The 319 hunter green chairs are wider, better cushioned and equipped with drink holders. (Greg Tyler / S&S)
Frank DeSilva, public affairs specialist for Sasebo Naval Base's Morale, Welfare and Recreation department, tries out one of the new theater chairs being installed at the Showboat Theater. The 319 hunter green chairs are wider, better cushioned and equipped with drink holders.
Frank DeSilva, public affairs specialist for Sasebo Naval Base's Morale, Welfare and Recreation department, tries out one of the new theater chairs being installed at the Showboat Theater. The 319 hunter green chairs are wider, better cushioned and equipped with drink holders. (Greg Tyler / S&S)
Boxes containing new theater chairs for Sasebo Naval Base's Showboat Theater fill the stage Tuesday afternoon. The theater is undergoing a $425,000 renovation.
Boxes containing new theater chairs for Sasebo Naval Base's Showboat Theater fill the stage Tuesday afternoon. The theater is undergoing a $425,000 renovation. (Greg Tyler / S&S)
Sasebo Naval Base Morale, Welfare and Recreation department employees wait Tuesday afternoon to begin unpacking the new theater chairs being installed at the Showboat Theater.
Sasebo Naval Base Morale, Welfare and Recreation department employees wait Tuesday afternoon to begin unpacking the new theater chairs being installed at the Showboat Theater. (Greg Tyler / S&S)

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — The Showboat Theater on the main base facility here recently completed the first phase of a $425,000 renovation and was to begin showing movies again Saturday.

The theater now is offering wider seats with cup holders, a new brand of popcorn, a new indoor paint job and a new way to pay coupled with head-of-the-line privileges, said Morale, Welfare and Recreation community activities manager Dave Wagner from inside the theater Wednesday.

Wagner said patrons taking part in an MWR customer appraisal system about a year ago identified five aspects of attending movies at the Showboat as bothersome:

• The chairs were filthy, too small and had no cup holders.• The inside of the theater was dull and unattractive.• The popcorn was terrible.• There was no way to purchase advance tickets.• The lobby was too small to accommodate both ticket buyers and snack purchasers.

“We painted the inside very dark so when the lights are off and a movie is being shown, it will be that much better to watch at the Showboat,” said theater manager John Stemen.

The thick-cushioned forest-green chairs, about four inches wider than the old red seats, have cup holders on each armrest, which should make juggling drinks, candy boxes and popcorn easier for customers.

“And the cup holders will make the theater that much easier for us to clean up after a day of movies and people spilling drinks when they had to sit them on the floor,” Stemen said.

Wednesday, 337 new theater seats were boxed and piled high on the stage and behind the seating area. Contractors installed the seats row-by-row starting that night so the theater could open Saturday afternoon.

The first movie set for the reopening is “Thunderbirds.” Movies continue through the day and evening with “Yu-Gi-Oh,” and “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” completing the slate.

MWR promises the popcorn will be easier on the palate.

“That one [complaint about popcorn] was really true. Trying to save some money, we bought a cheaper type of popcorn, and it really wasn’t very good,” Wagner said. “So, we’re rid of that type and we’re purchasing a much tastier brand. I guess you get what you pay for.”

This week MWR also announced the Cine-Pass program. “Adults and children can purchase movie passes good for seven shows for $21 and $14, respectively,” Stemen said. “In each case, the eighth movie is free.”

He said Cine-Pass holders can go directly to the front of the line, where their Cine-Pass cards will be stamped and they can be admitted.

The passes are on sale now at the Showboat Theater and other MWR locations.

Later this year, the renovation’s final phase occurs as the lobby and food-service area is extended from the current entrance to the street — easily making the lobby another 15 yards deeper.

“This is nice. When it’s all done, this’ll be a state-of-the-art spot to watch movies and hold other events,” Wagner said.

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