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Let’s All Go To The Movies. Please?

Here we are in March 2023, and it struck me the other day as I sat watching trailers ahead of Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania.

I’ve been back in the movie theater this past month! A lot.

I saw Women Talking, Knock at the Cabin, Triangle of Sadness, and the aforementioned Marvel Studios slugger.

The previous four movies I saw in the theater were over a seven-month period: Thor: Love and Thunder, Nope, Black Adam and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

And there are recent movies I didn’t get around to seeing yet such as M3GAN (an ultimate “let’s go see a movie” kind of movie), Avatar: The Way of Water (an experience made for the theater), Magic Mike’s Last Dance (a bible for male burlesque dancers and other stripping men), and Cocaine Bear (because of course we’re going).

Not to mention the movies coming out this month that I want to see: Creed III (more Jonathan Majors, duh), Shazam! Fury of the Gods (looks hella fun, and it’s in my hometown Philadelphia), John Wick: Chapter 4 (Donnie Yen, come through), and Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. (A heist movie set in D&D with Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriguez? Yes, please.)

The movies are back! Well, I’m back. And studios are putting movies out again more frequently in the post-COVID era. (For now. Contracts with writers, stagehands and visual effects unions are due.)

But movie theaters aren’t back, because people aren’t back at pre-pandemic levels after years of streaming at home, a disruptive economy, and yes, COVID still in these streets.

AMC Theatres, for example, saw its revenues fall further and net losses widen from $134.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2021 to a $287.7 million net loss in fourth-quarter 2022. Mind you, that’s despite Avatar: The Way of Water, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever earning big. (And that Nicole Kidman ad owning the internet.) Cineworld filed for bankruptcy last year, and Cinemark continues posting losses.

Some days it feels like nothing’s ever going to be nice again, despite that my local movie theaters are nicer than ever. They upgraded to the recliners, the popcorn is better, the projection is better, the sound is better. I enjoy my TV and sound setup at home, but the theater sound system never muddles the sound mix and muffles the dialog like a streaming service does.

Furthermore, in an age of tons of reboots, revivals and superpowered spectacle, I believe the grandeur is lost on a smaller screen. Avatar: The Way of Water wants to immerse us in Pandora, and I can’t do that if the screen isn’t as wide as my eyes can see. The infamous captain’s dinner scene in Triangle of Sadness was made all the better by watching it with an audience and hearing them groan along with the seasick elites.

That’s right, nerds. Even middling Marvel movies such as The Eternals and Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania were made better in an environment where the cosmic bigness and the Quantum Realm’s infinitesimal landscapes were displayed big. (As murkily lit as Quantumania was, I shudder to think of blowing out my TV screen settings to watch it at home.)

I want my big movies big. Catch me there for Fast X, for the next Dune, for the bizarre and emotional. Catch me at the theater when I’m just hanging out at home and want to get out somewhere low-key.

Yes, I’ll be attending more and more movies, and not just the big boys at the corporate theater. My wife got me a membership to my local independent arthouse theater, a place that survives on donations and grants, and putting real butter on the popcorn.

Imagine how much of a boost those theaters might have had if Glass Onion had a larger theatrical run. A room of guessers engrossed in the latest Benoit Blanc mystery sure would have been fun to witness and join.

Did I also mention that April has Renfield (Nicolas Cage is mother-effin’ Dracula), The Super Mario Bros. Movie (sorry, Jack Black voicing Bowser got me), Evil Dead Rise (always gimme more)?

And this quaint tale titled Polite Society.

Say less.

 

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