The box office is big news this week, less for its totals than for its totemic significance. Crowds will greet Top Gun: Maverick, but will kids join the adults to see a nearly 60-year-old actor in a sequel to a 36-year-old hit? At the other end of the audience spectrum, seniors will break through their torpor to embrace the new Downton and even entice their children – the film bears a dubious title Downton Abbey: A New Era to motivate the youth quadrant.
These are jittery days for an industry searching for clues to two major mysteries: Does a broad demographic really long for a return to the cool comforts of their movie theaters? And if so, what kind of movies would best combat their streamer fatigue?
There’s a dark omen in Los Angeles: The multi-screen Landmark Theater on the Pico, long the cathedral of indie films, will close its doors forever shortly after opening Downton Abbey. Charles S. Cohen, owner of Landmark, who is a committed movie nerd – he owns 35 other theaters (195 screens) – has his own analysis of these issues (see below).
Those moviegoers that are Downton This week, despicables can instead turn to an alternative film multiverse whose protagonists struggle with their own personal dissociative disorders. Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness competes with several other mind-benders, such as Everything everywhere at onceset in a more indie-oriented multiverse.
“The Emotional Impact of Doctor Strange allows for miraculous visits from characters from other Marvel films, each of which is met with a burst of joy,” writes Anthony Lane, critic for The New Yorker.
But will the resurgent moviegoers share in the joy? This is where history casts its shadow: when Hollywood fell into the Great Depression generations ago, Jack Warner promptly stopped his upbeat musicals (42nd street) to progress through a series of great gangster movies. Images of George Raft and Humphrey Bogart “settling” with the law seemed to please ailing ticket buyers. The gangsters themselves would soon be dethroned by WWII heroic figures.
Who will be the protagonists of the present? Acclimatization granted coda hinted at an appetite for an empathetic genre, but this film, while winning Oscars for Apple, never got a real chance in the cinema market. In fact, indie producers believe that the Apple-Netflix business model will actually affect their ability to raise production funds from European territories – the streamers’ deals span all major markets.
Still, veteran indie filmmakers like Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa believe a revived festival circuit could once again provide strong launch pads for their product, just as it did for them Little Miss Sunshine, cold mountain and choice. your new movie, Somewhere in Queensis a warm hearted story about an Italian-American family directed by and starring Ray Romano.
Berger believes that indie imagery, when carefully assembled, can still win funding and distribution, but theaters need to become “welcoming places with food and wine and even bookstores. The shared cinema experience becomes even more valuable in a moment after the pandemic,” he believes.
This view is supported by distributors like Neon’s Tom Quinn, who has argued that when viewers sit at home and control their experience, turning movies on and off, “it’s not cinema anymore because there’s no emotional connection.”
That opinion would enlist the support of Charles S. Cohen, who, while closing the Landmark, is opening new theaters in Scottsdale, Arizona, Annapolis, Maryland and other locations, and also scouting new prospects in Los Angeles. Cohen credits his Landmark closure to a stubborn landlord who overcharged in a Los Angeles neighborhood that had lost its luster.
“We are at an important turning point in cinema,” argues Cohen. “Our locations need to be full-fledged entertainment venues that draw audiences to all of the demos.” Cohen hopes the Tom Cruise film will prove to be generational, unlike this year’s early box-office hits, which were mostly played by young men. an abundance DowntonCohen believes that geriatrics could also be encouraged to rediscover cinema.
Coming from a wealthy real estate family, Cohen himself is involved in various aspects of cinema. Aside from his cinemas, Cohen owns a library of nearly 1,000 films by French and other European filmmakers, as well as works by Buster Keaton, Merchant-Ivory Productions and other artists. Cohen Media also has a channel on Amazon Prime and is opening a new film in London entitled Operation Mincemeat, a World War II thriller starring Colin Firth and directed by John Madden. He also produced The Great Bustera film about Buster Keaton directed by the late Peter Bogdanovich.
It’s Cohen’s hope that by the end of the summer, the clues will once again point to the rise of a new resilient cinema.