Optimistic celebrities and theater owners have proclaimed that “movies are back” so many times now that it just seems redundant to say, but it looks like this vague notion is now going to be a reality.
Just as everyone got bored rewatching Training Day for the umpteenth time on Netflix, theaters began to open back up, with Cinemark and AMC reopening their doors in March. But theatergoers who want a slightly more luxurious experience can count on the return of the Texas-centric Alamo Drafthouse chain.
Drafthouse theaters closed down in the early stages of the pandemic, and it’s safe to say their full relaunch has been less than certain. The chain recently filed for bankruptcy, though the North Texas franchise was kept alive through individual investors.
Thankfully, local cinephiles won’t have to wait much longer until they can lean back in their comfy Alamo recliners and enjoy a nice alcoholic beverage and meal (let’s face it, Alamo’s menu is a lot more appealing than Cinemark’s frozen pretzel bites or AMC’s gross nacho snack). Alamo Drafthouse Cinema recently announced a nationwide reopening plan with locations in Cedars, Lake Highlands and Richardson all set to return in June.
Of course, COVID safety precautions will remain in place, including mask requirements and socially distanced seating. The benefit of picking your seats ahead of time guarantees that you won’t be accidentally placed right next to a crazed anti-vaxxer or an obnoxious film bro who insists on adding his own commentary throughout the screening.
The major hurdle that theaters have faced isn’t a lack of audience (people swarmed to see Godzilla vs. Kong in theaters last month, with the monster mashup earning the biggest opening weekend of any post-COVID release), but a lack of new titles. Studios have understandably been hesitant about releasing their movies; if a new project from Hollywood’s most popular director, Christopher Nolan, can bomb, then there’s certainly a risk in putting out titles of mixed quality.
Many new films are being shifted to streaming services or pushed back to later in the year, but it seems like this year we might actually get a summer movie season again. Some of the most anticipated titles coming up include the Jason Statham action vehicle Wrath of Man (May 7), Angelina Jolie’s firefighter thriller Those Who Wish Me Dead (May 14), Chris Rock’s Saw reimagining Spiral (May 14), Emma Stone’s villain origin tale Cruella (May 28) and horror sequel A Quiet Place: Part II (May 28), all of which should be available at the Drafthouse at launch.
We’re not even getting to the rest of the summer. In the pipeline is the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical adaptation In the Heights (June 11), buddy-cop follow up The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (June 16) and the space-bound F9 (June 25), all in Alamo’s first month back.
The rest of the summer promises the Marvel Universe’s long-awaited girl power origin story Black Widow (July 9), the totally necessary Space Jam: A New Legacy (July 16), Henry Golding’s action debut Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins (July 23), the definitely relevant Hotel Transylvania (July 23), M. Night Shyamalan's twisty Old (July 23), The Rock’s Disney ride adaptation Jungle Cruise (July 30), DC’s R-Rated The Suicide Squad (August 6), another Ryan Reynolds movie in Free Guy (August 13), award biopic Respect (August 13) and the Jordan Peele-produced Candyman (August 27).
In other words, we’re getting a new sequel, prequel, remake, reboot or ripoff coming just about every week. But hey, that’s Hollywood. Alamo generally does a good job at diversifying their lineup with a nice selection of indie films, and we certainly can’t wait to see what Dallas filmmaker David Lowery has in store with his medieval epic The Green Knight, set for release July 30.
Alamo has a pretty good track record when it comes to putting on special events, Q&As and retro screening parties, so we’re sure to be inundated with a flurry of special screenings in the next few months. The real question is whether the Drafthouse will bring back its “rowdy” screening of Cats — are we ready to get intoxicated and watch creepy CGI felines again?
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