Big movies are back this summer in Minnesota, but big screens may not be
Unlike last year, it's looking like Hollywood will release big summer movies in 2021. But they'll be playing on fewer — and, in some cases, smaller — screens.
Visit any theater on the weekend and you'll see that moviegoers are ready to return, even as some studios continue to wait until a larger number of fans brave multiplexes. The James Bond adventure "No Time to Die" is planned for October, 18 months after its original date.
Unlike last year, when virtually every major title was delayed, "No Time" is an outlier. Many movies are opting for theaters or a combination of theaters and streaming services, led by the oft-delayed "Black Widow," the Scarlett Johannson/Marvel film that was supposed to open in 2020. Now it seems firmly planted on a July 9 release in theaters and Disney Plus.
Other big titles will include Emma Stone as the title character in "Cruella" and "A Quiet Place Part II," which explores what happens after the (spoiler alert) death of actor/writer/director John Krasinski's character in the first movie about a family fighting to survive a world where making the tiniest sound attracts the attention of violent creatures. Both open Memorial Day weekend: "Cruella" in theaters and on Disney Plus; "Quiet" in theaters only.
That means "Quiet" will test waters waded this spring by "Godzilla vs. Kong," whose $400 million gross in theaters worldwide seems to indicate that the popcorn-and-Red Vines crowd still has an appetite for big titles.
That's the waiting game Hollywood and theaters continue to play. Studios don't want to release titles until they're sure people will pay to see them in theaters, but theaters can't fully reopen without movies to exhibit.
Most Twin Cities locations have returned, albeit many with fewer screenings (on weekdays, Lagoon Cinema, like several other venues, only screens during the day). Owned by Landmark Theatres, the Lagoon is seen as a way to rebuild the in-person audience, according to a Landmark spokesperson, who noted that the chain's Uptown and Edina theaters remain closed because Landmark has only reopened one venue in each of its markets. (At press time, she could not confirm reports that the Edina is permanently closed.)
Some theaters continue to be closed. Alamo Drafthouse in Woodbury remains shuttered although the chain, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March, indicated it will reopen soon.
Other theaters haven't announced plans, including the St. Anthony Main Theater (although the marquee indicates it's returning this spring), CMX theaters at the Mall of America, Plaza Maplewood and south Minneapolis' Riverview Theater (which sells popcorn Thursdays-Sundays). The Grandview in St. Paul currently is closed but Mann Theatres intends to reopen it in mid-May, just in time for those Memorial Day weekend blockbusters.