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Cinema Chat: Hollywood's Push For More Moviegoers As The Latest In 'The Conjuring' Series Opens

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Summer is nearly here, and movie theaters around the country and here at home are getting warmed up! WEMU's David Fair connected with Michigan Theater Foundation executive director Russ Collins to discuss the latest movie openings and news from Hollywood.  


The Big Screen Is Back event featured presentations from all the major studios and specialty divisions, and CinemaCon 2021 Wants to Be Exhibition’s Comeback Party

“We are back!” said Arnold Schwarzenegger as he opened The Big Screen Is Back, a straightforward, if rare, collaboration among 13 distributors, the National Association of Theater Owners, the Motion Picture Association, and CAA, along with a team of top marketers and publicists. Jon M. Chu and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights” launched the show with the first eight minutes of the film, which will open the Tribeca Film Festival on June 9 with 8 sold-out screenings throughout NYC and opens at the Michigan Theater June 10, before opening nationally on June 11. Director Chu said, “l and Lin-Manuel Miranda knew we wanted to use every fiber of the cinema experience to show Washington Heights and introduce it to the world and make it feel like home and show all the colors and shapes and sizes and hopes and dreams.” A prescient intent for the film and for the movie theaters in which it will be shown.

J.J. Abrams introduced a sweet short about Miss Kitty, an 86-year-old veteran AMC West Village theater worker, and offered up something he once heard on the radio about the relationships people have to TV and the movies. “With TV, the relationship is you’re the parent and it’s the child,” he said. “It’s in your house and you control it, change it, in the context of the home. With the movies you’re the child, it’s the parent, it’s controlling you, taking you where it wants to take you. I think we all want to be kids again.” Abrams thinks the world will open up again like it did after the 1918 pandemic with the Roaring Twenties. “There will be a hunger to live again,” he said.

Marvel president Kevin Feige made no bones about his allegiance to theater going. “Marvel movies are made to be seen on the big screen,” he said. “For each one we set out to to create a visually spectacular experience. It’s the best way to see a Marvel movie. See ‘Black Widow’ on the biggest screen you can possibly find."

The studios are likely saving their big guns (James Bond and “Dune,” anyone?) for a week of special events called Cinema Week starting June 22, as well as this year’s long-delayed exhibitor convention CinemaCon (August 23-26) at the usual location at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.

Clearly, indies are important suppliers to the theaters as they come back. Lisa Bunnell, distribution president for Focus Features, choked up during her speech. “It’s important to have that human connection with people,” she said. “Without that, why do we make the movies? We were able to release 12 movies during the pandemic, and it was not just a bullshit throwaway. We went out there and did the marketing and theatrical campaigns as best we could during a difficult period of time.” Focus has two Edgar Wright movies, a “Sparks” music documentary (June 18) and “Last Night in Soho” (October). “Movies made us cry and laugh and feel emotions and they have the power to heal us and bring us back together again,” said Wright.

In closing remarks, horror-maestro Jason Blum said: “If you told me right now to turn down the lights and show me any movies that were previewed today, I would stay and take that two-hour journey, knowing it might shift my perspective, might move me to laughter or make me cry or scare the crap out of me, or show me something profound about the human condition. That’s the heart of our business.”


To butter or not to butter? The choice is back at the Michigan and State!

At this time, masks will still be required at all times that you’re not in your seat enjoying your movie snacks and beverages.


"The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It" -- OPENS FRIDAY, JUNE 4 AT THE STATE

Directed by Michael Chaves("The Curse of La Llorona," 2019) with a screenplay by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick from a story by Johnson-McGoldrick andJames Wan (who directed the two previous The Conjuring films). The film serves as a sequel to "The Conjuring" (2013) and "The Conjuring 2" (2016), and as the eighth installment in the Conjuring Universe. Originally slated for a September 2020 release, the film was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The film is a chilling story of murder and unknown evil that shocked even experienced real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. It is based on the actual murder trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson that took place in 1981 in Connecticut. One of the most sensational cases from the files of Ed and Lorraine Warren, it starts with a fight for the soul of a young boy, then takes them beyond anything they’d ever seen before, to mark the first time in U.S. history that a murder suspect would claim demonic possession as a defense. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson return as the paranormal investigating team of Lorraine and Ed Warren. The film also stars Ruairi O’Connor (Starz’ “The Spanish Princess”), Sarah Catherine Hook (Hulu’s “Monsterland”) and Julian Hilliard (the series “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels” and “The Haunting of Hill House”).


This is an upcoming American musical drama film directed by Jon M. Chu from a screenplay by Quiara Alegría Hudes. It is based on the stage musical of Lin-Manuel Miranda. The film stars Anthony RamosCorey HawkinsLeslie GraceMelissa BarreraOlga MeredizDaphne Rubin-VegaGregory Diaz IV, and Jimmy Smits.

Lights up on Washington Heights... The scent of a cafecito caliente hangs in the air just outside of the 181st Street subway stop, where a kaleidoscope of dreams rallies this vibrant and tight-knit community. At the intersection of it all is the likeable, magnetic bodega owner Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), who saves every penny from his daily grind as he hopes, imagines and sings about a better life.


This Week's Classic Films Coming Soon to the Michigan


"A Quiet Place Part II"

A 2020 American horror film and the sequel to the 2018 film, both of which follow a family that is forced to navigate and survive in a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by blind monsters with an acute sense of hearing. The sequel was written and directed by John Krasinskiunder the studio Paramount Pictures. Emily BluntMillicent Simmonds, and Noah Jupe reprise their roles from the first film, and Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou joined the cast. Krasinski also returns from the first film in a small role, seen in flashback sequences set before the first film.

"The Dry"

An Australian mystery drama thriller directed byRobert Connolly, from a screenplay by Connolly and Harry Cripps, and starring Eric BanaGenevieve O'ReillyKeir O'Donnell, and John Polson is based on the 2016 book of the same name byJane Harper. Aaron Falk returns to his drought-stricken hometown to attend a tragic funeral. But his return opens a decades-old wound - the unsolved death of a teenage girl.

"Dream Horse" 

Experience the inspiring true story of Dream Alliance, an unlikely racehorse bred by small town bartender Jan Vokes (Toni Collette). With very little money and no experience, Jan convinces her neighbors to chip in their meager earnings to help raise Dream and compete with the racing elites. Their investment pays off as Dream rises through the ranks and becomes a beacon of hope in their struggling community.

"The Truffle Hunters"

Deep in the forests of Piedmont, Italy, a handful of men, seventy or eighty years young, hunt for the rare and expensive white Alba truffle—which to date has resisted all of modern science's efforts at cultivation. They're guided by a secret culture and training passed down through generations, as well as by the noses of their cherished and expertly-trained dogs. They live a simpler, slower way of life, in harmony with their loyal animals and their picture-perfect land, seemingly straight out of a fairy tale. They're untethered to cell phone screens or the Internet, opting instead to make their food and drink by hand and prioritizing in-person connections and community.

The demand for white truffles increases year after year, even as the supply decreases. As a result of climate change, deforestation, and the lack of young people taking up the mantle, the truffle hunters' secrets are more coveted than ever. However, as it soon becomes clear, these aging men may just hold something much more valuable than even this prized delicacy: the secret to a rich and meaningful life.


LGBTQ Voices Series

This June, we’re excited to share a hybrid virtual and in-theater series of four films focused on the voices of the LGBTQ+ community. Keep an eye to our weekly emails for details on upcoming post-film discussions!

"Brave Blue World" (STREAM FOR FREE TODAY ONLY!!!)

Playing as part of our 2021 Science on Screen series.

This is the first honest, hopeful documentary to paint an optimistic picture of how humanity is successfully adopting new technologies and innovations to fundamentally rethink how we manage water. The team have been on an incredible journey to meet with pioneers and innovators who are addressing global water and sanitation challenges. 

Narrated by actor Liam Neeson, the film uses real-life stories with proven outcomes to challenge commonly held assumptions about water, including actor Matt Damon, co-founder of global non-profit Water.org, actor and musician Jaden Smith, co-founder of non-profit 501CThree, and Glen Daigger, University of Michigan Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. 

Their stories, the sort that never make the news, reveal a bright future for our most precious resource. We are at a momentous tipping point in the history of mankind’s relationship with water and the future is better than we think it is – the Brave Blue World Foundation serves to take this message to as many viewers as possible.  

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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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