Cinema Chat: 'Black Widow' Dominates COVID-Era Box Office, 'Roadrunner' Opens At The State, And More

Jul 15, 2021

The State Theatre
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

The summer movie season is cruising along, so join in on the fun! WEMU's David Fair is away this week, so Michael Jewett steps in to talk all things movies with Michigan Theater Foundation executive director Russ Collins.


"BLACK WIDOW" IS A MASSIVE WIN FOR CORONAVIRUS-ERA MOVIEGOING

In North America, the previous pandemic recordholder was Universal’s "F9," which debuted to $70 million a few weeks ago. But unlike "Black Widow," the ninth "Fast & Furious" movie was exclusively in theaters. Black Widow generated an estimated $80 million in ticket sales in North America. Combined with $78 million from international theaters and at least $60 million in Disney+ Premier Access rentals, "Black Widow" grossed over $215 million in its first weekend. The studio said it’s the largest domestic opening weekend since "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" debuted in 2019, pre-pandemic. "This was a pretty monumental weekend," said Paul Dergarabedian, Comscore's senior media analyst. "'Black Widow' played well on big screens and small screens. And it actually strengthens the case for movie theaters."

OPENING DOWNTOWN

"Zola" -- OPENS FRIDAY, JULY 16 AT THE MICHIGAN

Thist is a 2020 American black comedy film based on a viral Twitter thread by Aziah "Zola" King and the resulting Rolling Stone article "Zola Tells All: The Real Story Behind the Greatest Stripper Saga Ever Tweeted" by David Kushner. Directed by Janicza Bravo ("Atlanta-TV," "Lemon," "Forever-TV," "Them-TV") from a screenplay by Bravo and Jeremy O. Harris, it stars Taylour Paige as Zola, a part-time stripper who is convinced by her new friend (Riley Keough) to travel to Tampa, Florida, in order to earn money, only to get in over her head; Colman Domingo, Nicholas Braun, and Ari'el Stachel also star. 

"Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain" -- OPENS FRIDAY, JULY 16 AT THE STATE

It's not where you go. It's what you leave behind.... Chef, writer, adventurer, provocateur: Anthony Bourdain lived his life unabashedly. This film is an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at how an anonymous chef became a world-renowned cultural icon. From Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville ("20 Feet From Stardom," "Won't You Be My Neighbor?"), this unflinching look at Bourdain reverberates with his presence, in his own voice and in the way he indelibly impacted the world around him.

 

SPECIAL SCREENINGS DOWNTOWN

SPIKE LEE RETROSPECTIVE - Saturdays

 JAPANESE ANIME - Saturdays

 WES ANDERSON RETROSPECTIVE - Fridays       

 CINEMA CLASSICS – Sundays & Tuesdays

NT Live: "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" -- THURSDAY, JULY 22 AT THE MICHIGAN

One-Night Event! Captured live from the National Theatre in London, this critically acclaimed production directed by Marianne Elliot ("Angels in America," 'War Horse") has astonished audiences around the world and has received seven Olivier and five Tony Awards®. Christopher, fifteen years old, stands beside Mrs. Shears’ dead dog. It has been speared with a garden fork, it is seven minutes after midnight, and Christopher is under suspicion. He records each fact in the book he is writing to solve the mystery of who murdered Wellington. He has an extraordinary brain, exceptional at math, while ill-equipped to interpret everyday life.

CONTINUING DOWNTOWN

"I Carry You With Me"

AN ACCLAIMED FILM FROM SUNDANCE 2020. Based on true love, this decades spanning romance begins in Mexico between an aspiring chef (Armando Espitia) and a teacher (Christian Vázquez). Their lives restart in incredible ways as societal pressure propels them to embark on a treacherous journey to NYC with dreams, hopes, and memories in tow. Directed by Heidi Ewing (Farmington Hills native [Jesus Camp, Detropia]), from a screenplay by Ewing and Alan Page Arriaga.

"Black Widow"

In Marvel Studios' action-packed spy thriller, Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger.

It is an American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, it is the 24th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film was directed by Cate Shortland (Australian writer and director best known for "Somersault," "Lore," and "Berlin Syndrome") from a screenplay by Eric Pearson. Stars Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow alongside Florence PughDavid HarbourO-T FagbenleWilliam HurtRay Winstone, and Rachel Weisz. Set after "Captain America: Civil War" (2016), the film sees Romanoff on the run and forced to confront her past.

Scarlett Johansson has been cast in the role for several MCU films beginning with "Iron Man 2" (2010). Work began in late 2017, and director Cate Shortland was hired in 2018. Filming took place from May to October 2019 in Norway, Budapest, Morocco, Pinewood Studios in England, and in Atlanta and Macon, Georgia. It is the first film in Phase Four of the MCU and was delayed three times from an original May 2020 release date due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"Summer of Soul (Or When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)"

In his acclaimed debut as a filmmaker, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson presents a powerful and transporting documentary—part music film, part historical record created around an epic event that celebrated Black history, culture, and fashion. Over the course of six weeks in the summer of 1969, just 100 miles south of Woodstock, The Harlem Cultural Festival was filmed in Mount Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park). The footage was never seen and largely forgotten—until now. The film shines a light on the importance of history to our spiritual well-being and stands as a testament to the healing power of music during times of unrest, both past and present. The feature includes never-before-seen concert performances by Stevie WonderNina SimoneSly & the Family StoneGladys Knight & the PipsThe Staples SingersMahalia JacksonB.B. KingThe 5th Dimension, and more.

"In the Heights" 

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.

"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.

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—Michael Jewett is the WEMU weekday jazz host.  Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org