‘GI Cho’ partnering with USO, Southpoint Mall for movie opening
Augustus Cho has come up with a novel plan to celebrate the premiere next month of the highly anticipated “GI Joe 2: Retaliation” movie in which he plays the role of a North Korean leader.
He’s planned a red carpet East Coast event at Southpoint Mall on March 30, a day after the movie hits U.S., theaters, to honor active duty military personnel with a private screening of the film at AMC Southpoint 17 Cinema.
Complimentary tickets will go to the first 150 active duty members of the Armed Forces who show up at the theater at 3 p.m., with military ID.
“There’s a war still going on and people really don’t know that because less than 1 percent of our citizens are fighting that war,” Cho said in an interview last week. “This is my way of contributing to families in the military.”
The screening for the movie starring an ensemble cast that includes Bruce Willis, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Channing Tatum, among others, will take place in the IMAX theatre.
Film buffs might recall that “GI Joe 2: Retaliation” was supposed to open last summer but was pushed back so Paramount could convert the film to 3D, a move it believes will increase attendance at theaters overseas.
In addition to Southpoint Mall, Cho, the Chapel Hill resident and budding screen actor, has partnered with the USO at Raleigh-urham Airport in his effort to bring awareness to the struggles of the region’s military personnel and their families.
The partners have big plans to kick off the March 30 event, which will begin at 10 a.m., and end at 4 p.m., including a parachute jump by retired members of the Golden Knights.
The jump team will feature one member who has performed tandem jumps with former nt George H.W. Bush, a former naval aviator who marked his 80th and 85th birthdays with parachute jumps.
The USO is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to lift the spirit and morale of U.S troops and military families through programs, services and entertainment.
In recent years, the organization has also been called on to offer support services to address the financial and psychological stresses caused families when service members are deployed overseas for long periods of time.
“Augustus reached out to us because of his passion for the military,” said Connie Inggs, director of the USO at RDU.
Inggs said the offer by Cho to use the movie opening to highlight the USO and U.S. troops, comes as an important time for the USO, which is facing increased pressure for resources as members of the armed forces begin to return from overseas in greater numbers.
“It’s going to be a big education event about the military to let the community know about the heavy burden we have now with service members coming back home, some returning to difficult times,” Inggs said.
President Barak Obama recently announced a major reduction of troops in Afghanistan with plans to bring home 34,000 service men and women within the next year.
Last year, Inggs said USO-North Carolina (USO-NC) served more than 650,000 members of the armed forces and members of their families.
The nonprofit, which operates five centers in North Carolina, relies on funding from private grants, donations, corporate gifts and sponsorships and fundraisers.
Travel-based centers at RDU, Charlotte Douglas International Airport and Fayetteville Airport host an average of 13,075 visitors per month. USO-NC also oversees traditional centers in Jacksonville and on Ft. Bragg.
Ashley Warrick, marketing manage at Southpoint Mall, said the event is a great opportunity for the mall to become involved in a worthy cause with great partners.
“We’re working with them to roll out the red carpet for military families and the community,” Warrick said.
Patrick Anderson, general manager of Southpoint Mall, said the fact that Cho is in the film makes the event especially attractive for the mall.
“It’s a pretty good opportunity because he [Cho] lives here and has ties to the community,” Anderson said.
The event will also be used to raise money for the USO.
Movie-goers will be able to present their GI Joe ticket stub or military ID to their server at California Pizza Kitchen at Southpoint March 30-April 4, and the restaurant will donate 20 percent of the bill to the USO of North Carolina.
Meanwhile, Cho is preparing for the release of another film in early spring or summer in which he portrays a Japanese immigrant.
Cho, a Korean immigrant, said the film is a cross between “Shawshank Redemption” and “The Blind Side” with him playing an immigrant who believes he has to change to fit in after he arrives in America but later realizes he does not.
“It ought to be pretty good,” Cho said.