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No alcohol for movies at the Mars

POSTED: April 10, 2014 7:05 p.m.

While beer and wine will be served at certain live performances, alcohol likely won’t flow at the Mars Theatre when it shows movies.

Springfield City Council voted 5-0 Tuesday to prohibit selling beer and wine at movies at the Mars, unless the city council gives its approval beforehand.  The first movie to be shown at the Mars is scheduled to be “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” on May 1, the first day the movie is released to the general public.

Mayor pro tem Kenny Usher, who presided over Tuesday’s meeting, said if the Mars wished to sell alcohol at movies it shows, it could get a special-use permit.

Council members worried over the effects alcohol-imbibing customers could have on other patrons.

“I don’t know why it’s important to have alcohol at a movie,” said council member Jerry Maennche. “You can’t control everybody.”

Council member Justin Cribbs said, as an example, a patron could complain about someone drinking throughout the movie.

“I don’t want that to happen,” he said.

Council member Steve Shealy said he had gotten a call from someone asking if the Mars was going to sell alcohol at movies.

City Manager Brett Bennett said city officials had talked about limiting alcohol sales to movies with certain ratings. Some movies considered classics that would draw an older audience might carry PG ratings, he advised, and that would necessitate coming back to the council to ask for a variance. Bennett also issued a caveat about issuing variances and the precedents that could be set.

“We couldn’t find a way to tie it down to say ‘yes’ to some and ‘no’ to others,” he said.

Tommy Deadwyler, the city’s cultural affairs director, pointed out that some independent films do not carry ratings such as PG or PG-13.

Deadwyler added more and more movie theaters are selling beer and wine — Statesboro has had Mugs and Movies and several Atlanta moviehouses also sell alcohol — especially in the kind of the theater the Mars will be.

“We’d use our judgment as to what the movie is or the event is,” he said of when the theatre would sell alcohol.

Shealy said he had no problem leaving it up to the theatre manager when to sell alcohol.

“I just hope there is a lot of discretion,” he said. “I’m not big into alcohol at movies.”

Added council member Gary Weitman: “We’re into entertainment there, not selling beer.”

Deadwyler also said that not all live performances, such as a school chorus event, will have alcohol available.

He also hopes to have a food, wine and film festival at the Mars in the future.

The Mars’ grand opening is set for April 25, featuring The Greencards. The opening weekend also includes an April 26 performance by von Grey, the sisters who played at last year’s Fox Theatre Institute tour at the Mars, and Essie Mae Brooks on April 27.

For more information, visit marstheatre.com.

Mars Grand Opening
• When: April 25
• Events: The Greencards, April 25; von Grey, April 26; Essie Mae Brooks, April 27; “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” May 1.

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