IME/ShowTime Preview Guide - Page 70

In the Beginning : I came into this world in Austin , Texas , where my father was stationed at Bergstrom Air Force Base . He was a Captain and fighter pilot in the Air Force . My mother and I moved to Kearney , Nebraska to be with her family when I was 11 months old after receiving word that my father was killed in action while fighting in the Korean Conflict . I had a wonderful childhood growing up in that small mid-western town where I graduated from high school and received a Bachelor of Science Degree from Kearney State College .
Family : I married my high school sweetheart , Martha , in 1970 and we have two fantastic kids . Our son , Rob , has a PhD from the University of Colorado and is a Medical Science Liaison ( MSL ) for EMD Serono . Our daughter , Corey , is married and has two sons – Bobby ( 20 ) and Austin ( 16 ). She graduated from Colorado State University and is now the Animal Services Manager for the City of Irving , Texas .
Career Moves : I entered this amazing industry back in 1965 at the age of 15 as an usher at the World Theatre in Kearney , Nebraska . The next year I was asked to manage the Drive In Theatre . Two years later when I started college I became the projectionist at the Drive In and held that position throughout college . After college graduation in 1974 I started as a Manager Trainee with AMC Theatres in Denver , Colorado . In 1976 I became the GM of Fashion Square 4 Theatres in Southern California where I won Showman of the Year for AMC ’ s West Division . In 1978 I became a District Manager and eventually moved back to Colorado to supervise 12 theatres . In 1986 I accepted the Director of Concessions role for the West Division and oversaw concession operations until 1996 . After 21 years at AMC I moved to Mann Theatres as VP of Concessions . What exciting times I had with handprint ceremonies at the world famous Chinese Theatre in Hollywood and movie premieres at Westwood theatres ! The company sold in 1998 and I moved back to Colorado to be the VP of Concessions at United Artists Theatres . In 2002 UA merged with Regal and Edwards Theatres and I moved to Dandy Amusements as VP of Marketing . We placed video game machines in theatre lobbies all over the country so I still got to work with all of my friends in the theatre industry . Then in 2009 I was fortunate to be able to come to Dallas to work with the great folks at Cinemark where I am now a VP in the Food & Beverage Dept .
Hobbies : Music is one of my hobbies . I played guitar and keyboards in a couple of bands back in the late 1960 ’ s and early 1970 ’ s . We played in concerts and night clubs in the mid-west , toured with The Lemon Pipers , and opened in concert for Steppenwolf . Folks might need
68 • ShowTime Preview Guide – Spring 2017

Wally Helton

VP Food and Beverage Cinemark
to Google them to find out who they were !
Best advice I ever got : From the then CFO at AMC , Frank Rutkowski , when we were having dinner during the Showman of the Year trip in 1977 : “ Never get drunk at a company function and always put the maximum in your 401K .”
Best advice you have for others : I have always said “ Have fun and make money – and it has to be in that order ”. If you have fun with whatever your job happens to be then it won ’ t feel like work !
People who ’ ve influenced you most : I have to tip my hat to Stan Durwood who was the owner of AMC Theatres back when I worked there . He always challenged you to do a better job today than you did yesterday . I learned so much during those 21 years at AMC and have been able to continue to use those learnings throughout my career . I also need to mention Chuck Goldwater who was the President at Mann Theatres when I was there and Bruce Taffet , Kurt Hall , and Neil Pinsker who worked with me at United Artists . Finally I must thank Lee Roy and Tandy Mitchell for bringing me on board at Cinemark and treating me like family .
Giving back : In 2000 I was blessed to be able to be the Chief Barker for the Colorado Tent of Variety The Children ’ s Charity . This industry charity provides for children ’ s needs and has a rich history dating back to 1927 . Currently Martha and I are very active in our church and community working with special needs individuals and food banks .
Fondest Convention Memories : I have been very fortunate to be able to meet quite a few “ movie stars ” in various Green Rooms , charity golf tournaments , and industry functions . One of my favorites was during ShoWest in 1983 riding on an elevator with Debra Winger who was there to receive the Female Star of the Year award – it was just Debra and her body guard and me !!
Biggest reason to remain optimistic : I have to admit that I have seen many changes in our industry over the past 51 years but the fact that our Guests still have a need to gather together to be entertained stays strong . Many of the exhibitors have had to step up their game to include recliner chairs , the newest innovations in sight and sound , and even high end food and alcohol options in the auditoriums ! I can ’ t wait to see what is going to happen next . And Hollywood continues to do their part in releasing exciting product for all generations to see . Thank goodness that our Guests still love to have an ice cold beverage while munching on the best popcorn and enjoying their favorite movies . Life is good !!!