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Carey Theater films to go digital

Northwest Guardian

Published: 04:14PM February 21st, 2013

For the last three years moviegoers at JBLM’s Carey Theater have enjoyed state-of-the-art sound.

Starting March 9 an upgrade to the movie’s picture will match the $150,000 sound system. The Army and Air Force Exchange Service is upgrading the 62-year-old theater on Lewis Main with digital cinema to offer a larger, sharper picture and 3-D capabilities.

“Even though the picture was good, it wasn’t digital,” said Patrick McGhee, JBLM Exchange general manager. “We have the picture to match the sound.”

The $120,000 conversion will start March 6 and will not affect the movie schedule. The upgraded feature will debut March 9 with a to-be-determined film.

Carey Theater has used 35mm film reels the last 50-plus years to show movies. When movie reels arrived at the theater it took nearly four hours to manually load the film onto house movie reels and organize them for show time. Depending on the length of a film, some movies can use up to six reels. A theater employee has to manually switch the reels seamlessly while the film is playing.

The old equipment will be replaced with what McGhee calls a “very expensive DVD player.” Once a movie is requested it will be downloaded to the theater’s system and programed to start up to two weeks in advance, said Paul Claxton, Lewis Main Mini Mall Food Court manager who oversees 17 JBLM facilities in 11 different buildings, including Carey Theater.

The new system will eliminate the cost of shipping to return movies, as well as maintenance and upgrades to the 35mm machines.

A larger silver screen will also be installed to show 3-D films.

After the digital upgrade movie prices will increase 25 cents. The new prices will be $3 per adult and $1.50 per child for regular films and $5 per adult and $3.50 per child for 3-D films. The Exchange offers movies every weekend that are typically two weeks after a movie’s release date. About once a month Carey Theater offers a studio appreciation free movie before it is released to off-base theaters. The theater’s concessions are 20 percent less than off-base theaters.

Carey Theater houses 933 seats as well as wheelchair seating. The theater underwent a $3.7 million renovation in 2008 to upgrade the seating, install LED aisle seating strips and undergo structural improvements.

The theater includes a stage and is also used for other purposes besides movies. It is named in memory of Staff Sgt. Alvin P. Carey who was killed in action Aug. 23, 1944.