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Sunset Cinema also shows sneak peeks of upcoming movies and new releases at the Sunset Cinema at a low cost for high-value entertainment.

Photo by Cpl. Ali Azimi

A Night at the Movies

5 Apr 2013 | Cpl. Ali Azimi

The movie industry has been a large source of entertainment for decades. It is continually evolving. The old mode of film movie projection has been slowly replaced by digital movie projectors.  

Combat Center Marines are in a unique position during this transition of movie entertainment. They are within driving distance of both a digital projection theater and a film-projector drive-in. They can pick between old school and modern entertainment.



The Combat Center’s Sunset Cinema exemplifies the modern movie experience, but improved by its low prices and its exclusive movie screenings for Combat Center Marines. Tickets at sit-in theaters off base costs more than six times the amount at the Sunset Cinema. If you are planning to get something to eat at their concession stand, be ready to hand over your paycheck.

A family of four who buys a large popcorn and two large drinks can save close to $40 on a trip to the movies by attending the Sunset Cinema vice theaters in town.

“We’re inexpensive compared to out in town,” said Joshua Mueller, supervisor, Sunset Cinema. “Our 2-D movies are $2 and our 3-D movies are $4.”

Sunset Cinema also shows sneak peeks of upcoming movies and new releases at the Sunset Cinema at a low cost for high-value entertainment.

They aren’t looking to make a huge profit off their patrons, like most theaters, Mueller added.

The cinema fits more than 1,000 people and uses a digital movie projector, the modern platform, for 2-D and 3-D movies. The theater holds special features, such as free matinees on Saturdays, and sneak previews to upcoming films.

“We do get advanced screenings every now and then,” Mueller said. “(Marines) really enjoy them.”

Their next sneak preview showing is scheduled to be “42” the motion picture depicting the career and struggles of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play Major League Baseball. The movie is will be in theaters April 23, but will air at the Combat Center Saturday.

Sunset Cinema also hosts multiple concerts every year from a variety of artists.





Drive-in theaters were one of the most common venue for entertainment during the mid 1900s. The drive-in theaters provided a way to watch movies from the comfort of your car. Today, there are approximately 500 drive-ins left in the United States and one of them is conveniently located down the road from the Combat Center.

The Smith’s Ranch Drive-In has been providing locals a unique and fun movie experience since the 1920s. Today, it’s a venue for a nostalgic night out to a formerly common movie night.

The drive-in, located on Adobe Road, fits approximately 100 cars and uses the traditional film projectors. It provides a classic setting to relax with your car seat pushed, role down your windows for some fresh air, watch a movie and enjoy some treats from the concession stand.

“You have your own car, your own stereo system and that’s the luxury,” said Robert Moreno, projectionist, Smith’s Ranch Drive-In. “You don’t have to worry about anybody talking behind you, around you or anything else. It’s just about being courteous.”

Since their beginning, the drive-in has kept this “courteous” charm at their establishment. They have worked hard to tailor their services and prices for a better experience by patrons.

“People have been known to bring in their own food. We don’t encourage it, but we don’t discourage it either .We’ve had people bring barbecue pits out here,” Moreno said. “Don’t be surprised to see someone bring a couch.”

Moreno, a retired Marine, said Smith’s Ranch is one of the local few places that caters to Marines that he has seen. They try to keep everything low-cost.

For $5, patrons can watch two movies. The drive-in is open year-round, Thursday through Sunday.

Both theaters offer low prices and their own appeal. The drive-in provides a fun old-fashioned way to watch movies and although they may not have the slightly higher digital quality of other theaters, they make up for it with a unique experience and comfortable atmosphere.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms