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Cinema Chat: 'Godzilla Vs. Kong' Box Office Win, 'Lord Of The Rings' Returns To Theaters, And More

Michigan Theater
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The Oscars are just a few weeks away, and the box office seems to be coming back to life.  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair and Michigan Theater Foundation executive director Russ Collins talk about the latest movie news and all of the flicks coming your way in the theaters and online this weekend.


“Godzilla vs. Kong” doubled box office expectations projection an optimism that is worth more than the  nearly $50 million of tickets it sold last week.


The official total of $48.5 million for five days (don’t be surprised if it gets closer to $50 million when Sunday’s numbers are verified) represents $32.2 million for the three-day weekend.  By midweek, it should outgross the totals for “Tenet” ($58 million) and “The Croods: A New Age” ($56 million).


This comes with day-and-date play for HBO Max subscribers in the U.S. and Premium VOD in Canada, where most theaters are closed. (It earned another $3 million there.)  In the U.S., many theaters remain closed including nearly all Regal locations, Pacific/Arclight, and other regional circuits.  Seating restrictions affect most theaters, IMAX auditoriums in particular, and many moviegoers still aren’t keen to visit theaters.  As a theatrical exclusive without those restrictions, it might have earned $100 million across five days.


It is a film that begs for theatrical presentation.  Although I did not see it my movie maven, sources tell me it was not great, but better than expected.  Warner Bros. timed this perfectly and did a big favor for the upcoming “F9” (June 25) and “Black Widow” (July 9).  Every data point has the power to change perception. Another lesson is heightened presentation can provide a major draw.  Even with extreme home alternatives like HBO Max, theaters are back in the game.


"Godzilla vs. Kong" continues at the commercial theaters.



Special Series: "The Lord of the Rings" Trilogy -- PLAYS APRIL 11, 18, & 25 AT THE MICHIGAN

In keeping with these distinctly un-Spring-like humid 80-degree days of late, we're kicking off some summery-feeling classics this April at the Michigan with three back-to-back Sundays of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.  Starting this Sunday with "The Fellowship of the Ring," each of these 4K theatrical cut screenings will feature brand new post-film conversations between Stephen Colbert and the trilogy's stars!  Plus, if, before this Sunday, you get the complete Package to See Them All, you will secure a seat at all three films and a precious spot in the much-anticipated "Lord of the Rings" special edition of the popular Virtual Movie Trivia on May 21st.  See the 4K remastered trilogy presented with brand new special cast conversations hosted by Stephen Colbert.  This Sunday's post-film conversation includes Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, and Elijah Wood.

Oscar Nominated Live-Action Shorts -- OPENING AT THE MICHIGAN SATURDAY

  • “Feeling Through”: A broke teen looks for shelter on a cold night.  His random encounter with a middle-aged, deaf-blind man changes his course, possibly in more ways than one.  Writer-director Doug Roland gets strong work from both performers: Robert Tarango actually is deaf and blind; Steven Prescod is convincing as a desperate kid who turns out to be a genuinely good person.
  • “The Letter Room”: Oscar Isaac plays a corrections officer who takes over the job of scanning prisoner mail and gets involved in the lives revealed therein.  It’s a well-acted, low-key drama that could be ready for expansion.
  • “The Present”: A goodhearted Palestinian man takes his young daughter to pick up a gift for his wife; to do so, they must pass through an Israeli checkpoint.  The stresses and humiliations complicating what should be a simple errand pile up, pushing him toward a potentially tragic outcome.
  • “Two Distant Strangers”: Takes a familiar fantasy trope and applies it to a deadly serious subject: police mistreatment of Black Americans.  To its credit, its denouement makes that gamble pay off.  It evolves into something thoughtful, eventually becoming a startlingly dark commentary.
  • “White Eye”: An examination of unintended consequences in modern-day Tel Aviv.  When a young man seems to have solved the mystery of his stolen bicycle, his single-minded quest to reclaim it takes a turn that forces him to see with greater perspective.  Shot in one continuous take, Tomer Shushan’s film puts its audience in a tense situation with steely focus until its deeper meaning becomes clear.


Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts -- AT THE STATE THIS WEEKEND

Each year, we're thrilled to present the Academy Award-nominated shorts programming featuring the year's most spectacular short films.  From 96 total qualifying films, these five received nominations in the Animated Short Film category at the 93rd Academy Awards. 

  • "Burrow" – Madeline Sharafian and Michael Capbarat (USA, 6 min.)
  • "Genius Loci" – Adrien Mérigeau and Amaury Ovise (France, 16 min.)
  • "Opera" – Erick Oh (USA, 9 min.)
  • "If Anything Happens, I Love You" – Will McCormack and Michael Govier (USA, 12 min.)
  • "Yes-People" – Gísli Darri Halldórsson and Arnar Gunnarsson (Iceland, 8 min.)


  • "Kapaemahu" (USA, 8 min.)
  • "The Snail and the Whale" (UK/Germany, 26 min.)
  • "To Gerard" (USA, 7 min.)

"French Exit" -- PLAYING AT THE STATE APRIL 9-11

“My plan was to die before the money ran out,” says 60-year-old penniless Manhattan socialite Frances Price (Michelle Pfeiffer), but things didn’t go as planned.  Her husband Franklin has been dead for 12 years, and with his vast inheritance gone, she cashes in the last of her possessions and resolves to live out her twilight days anonymously in a borrowed apartment in Paris, accompanied by her directionless son Malcolm (Lucas Hedges) and a cat named Small Frank—who may or may not embody the spirit of Frances’s dead husband. 


If you liked the indie hit “The Farewell” (starring Awkwafina), you will like this film.  A tender and sweeping story about what roots us, the film follows a Korean-American family that moves to a tiny Arkansas farm in search of their own American Dream.  The family home changes completely with the arrival of their sly, foul-mouthed, but incredibly loving grandmother.  Amidst the instability and challenges of this new life in the rugged Ozarks, Minari shows the undeniable resilience of family and what really builds a home and family.  Starring Steven Yeun ("Burning") and Yeri Han ("Champion").

"Nomadland" -- PLAYING AT THE STATE APRIL 10 & 11

Following the economic collapse of a company town in rural Nevada, Fern (Frances McDormand) packs her van and sets off on the road exploring a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad.  The third feature film from director Chloé Zhao, this film features real nomads Linda May, Swankie, and Bob Wells as Fern’s mentors and comrades in her exploration through the vast landscape of the American West.


The film earned six nominations at the 93rd Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Hopkins), and Best Supporting Actress (Colman).

Anthony (Academy Award Winner Anthony Hopkins) is 80, mischievous, living defiantly alone and rejecting the carers that his daughter, Anne (Academy Award and Golden Globe Winner Olivia Colman), encouragingly introduces.  Yet help is also becoming a necessity for Anne; she can't make daily visits anymore, and Anthony's grip on reality is unraveling.  As we experience the ebb and flow of his memory, how much of his own identity and past can Anthony cling to?  How does Anne cope as she grieves the loss of her father, while he still lives and breathes before her?  This filim warmly embraces real life, through loving reflection upon the vibrant human condition; a heart-breaking and uncompromisingly poignant movie that nestles in the truth of our own lives.


2021 Korean Cinema NOW Film Series - A FREE Film Series Online

In partnership with the UM Nam Center for Korean Studies, this semester’s Korean Cinema NOW will be presented virtually!  Five weekends, five films available FREE to stream!

Over 30 films now playing virtually at michtheater.org.



Written and directed by Neil Burger("Interview with the Assassin" (2002), "The Illusionist" (2006), "Limitless" (2011), and the sci-fi action film "Divergent" (2014)).  The film stars Tye Sheridan, Lily-Rose Depp, Fionn Whitehead, andColin Farrell.  Set in the future, the film chronicles the odyssey of 30 young men and women who are sent deep into space on a multi-generational mission in search of a new home.  The mission descends into madness, as the crew reverts to its most primal state, not knowing if the real threat they face is what's outside the ship or who they're becoming inside it.

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu

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