Movie theaters in the UK won’t reopen until July 4. In Texas, where the stay-at-home order expired on April 30, a San Antonio chain is giving it a try. Vice News reports that at Santikos Entertainment theaters, “a staff member opens the door when you enter, the self-serve soda machine is no longer self-serve, and every other row in their theaters [is] cordoned off.”
When moviegoers are polled on when and under what circumstances they’ll return to theaters, results differ. According to a late March poll by analytics company EDO, 56% will take their time. By mid-May, 75% were saying they will return if theaters have safety protocols in place. (Fun fact: EDO was co-founded by actor Edward Norton.)
Meanwhile, some films that would have been theatrical releases will instead be on-demand rentals. A few are opening in drive-in theaters. “No Time to Die,” the big new Bond movie originally scheduled for U.S. release on April 10, has been pushed forward to Nov. 25.
For now, virtual cinema is the best movie theaters can do, and it’s turning out to be pretty good. Though nothing compares to sitting in a crowd, and we fervently hope to do that again someday.
MSP Film Society jumped on virtual cinema early, offering new films for streaming in late March, soon after postponing its annual Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF). On May 15, it launched the first-ever virtual MSPIFF with more than 50 films from around the world. The festival is over but the Virtual Cinema Collection is still going strong. Current films include “Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy,” a documentary about “the Mick Jagger of Mexican cuisine”; “Military Wives,” starring Kristin Scott Thomas; and the raved-about Norwegian documentary “The Painter and the Thief.” Starts Friday: Wes Anderson’s “Papicha.”
Here’s a list of other theaters offering films you can stream at home. If we missed something, please add it to the comments. Whatever you rent supports the theater you rent it from.
The Alamo Drafthouse (a national chain, with one location in Woodbury) offers Alamo on Demand, an extensive menu of movies for rent and (often, not always) for sale. We’ll skip “Centipede Horror” but there’s plenty else to choose from.
Emagine Entertainment (with nine theaters in Minnesota including Emagine Willow Creek) is currently offering 22 films in its Virtual Cinema, from “Balloon” to “Spaceship Earth” to “The Woman Who Loves Giraffes.”
The Parkway launched its Virtual Cinema on April 24 and now has a robust collection of more than three dozen films to choose from. Recent additions include “Military Wives,” “Spaceship Earth” and “Clementine.”
The Riverview has Riverview at Home, currently 17 indie films including “The Booksellers” (a behind-the-scenes look at the New York rare books world) and “New French Shorts 2020.” On Thursdays-Sundays, you can enjoy your rented films with honest-to-God Riverview Theater popcorn, sold during these hours.
The Trylon’s first online feature opens this Friday (May 29). Can you guess what it is? Of course not. Who could? The Trylon has long been our most eclectic theater. The film is a new restoration of “The Grey Fox” (1982), an unconventional Western starring Richard Farnsworth that takes place at the turn of the 20th century but feels like a 1970s crime film. FMI and tickets. The Trylon is also selling a cool Toshiro Mifune T-shirt.
Twin Cities Film Fest has a unique selection of American indie films, some from past festivals. Looking them over, we spy “A Method” (2013) starring Jane Froiland. All films are $5.99, and TCFF is splitting profits with the filmmakers.
The Walker isn’t into virtual cinema, but it does offer occasional screenings including kids’ films on the first Saturday of every month. In March, after COVID came, it reconfigured an upcoming INDIgenesis showcase of works by Native filmmakers and moved it online. Some of those films are still available. There are videos in various places on the site, and, of course, the wonderful Walker Dialogues, a virtual Ph.D. in film studies. We’re reminded (by our Google calendar, thanks no thanks) that this Saturday would have been the day when the 2019 McKnight Media Artist Fellows shared their work at the Walker and talked with FilmNorth’s Eric Mueller. Sigh. P.S. You can view screenings and videos on the Walker site for free, but no one will stop you from making a donation.
The Heights Theater remains closed and keeps revising its schedule. But the Heights DQ is open for takeout.
Starts tonight: Minnesota Opera: Massenet’s “Thaïs.” Minnesota Opera continues its Digital Opera series with the lush and passionate tale of a monk who falls in love with a courtesan. Obviously, this won’t end well, but the music is gorgeous and so is the singing, with Kelly Kaduce as Thaïs and Grammy winner (and Minnesota resident) Lucas Meacham as Athanaël. Tune into the Classical MPR broadcast at 7 p.m. This is the night when the 2018 production will also be released for streaming through Sunday, July 12. Still available: Paul Moravec and Mark Campbell’s “The Shining” (through July 5) and Wagner’s “Das Rheingold” (through June 28). Here’s the streaming link. We love that MNOP is also including digital versions of the programs.
Tonight at 8 p.m. on Twitch: The Quarantine Concerts: Damon Locks, Tomeka Reid, Nicole Mitchell and Jeff Parker. Thanks to American Composers Forum for tipping us to Experimental Sound Studio and its daily Quarantine Concerts, streaming on Twitch. Artists from all over the world are playing, and they receive one hundred percent of the donations contributed during their performances. The music of Chicago-based Locks, leader of his 15-piece Black Monument Ensemble, has been described as “fantastical black-nationalist jazz.” Chicago-based cellist and Association for the Advancement of Creative Music (AACM) member Reid performed here in December as part of Mankwe Ndosi’s Great Black Music Mondays at Icehouse. Creative flautist Mitchell, a former chair of the AACM, is director of jazz studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Los Angeles-based guitarist Parker was last here in October 2019, performing at the Walker with Makaya McCraven. Heavy, heavy hitters all. Here’s the link you’ll need. Created for gamers, also featuring DJs and live music, Twitch (in our admittedly limited experience) is crisp and clear.
Tonight (Thursday, May 28) at 7 p.m.: Jazz Fest Live presents Jorge Pacheco. A headliner at the 2019 Twin Cities Jazz Festival, the fiery young Cuban pianist was scheduled to return for the Winter Jazz Festival, which was canceled. Tune in tonight as Jazz Fest ED Steve Heckler gives him a warm welcome, having settled into his new role as host of a virtual series that’s turning out really well. Last week’s concert with Matthew Whitaker was special. Go here to save your spot.
Friday (May 29) at 7 p.m. CST on the New York City Ballet’s YouTube channel, Facebook page and homepage: 21st Century Choreographers. When the NYCB couldn’t present its spring season at Lincoln Center, it created a digital spring season of full ballets from its archives and other online programming. Introduced by resident choreographer Justin Peck, Friday’s program is a collection of seven performances, most world premieres, of works by Peck, Pam Tanowitz, Alexei Ratmansky, Gianna Reisen, Kyle Abraham, and Mauro Gibonzetti filmed from 2017-2020.
Saturday (May 30) at 8 p.m. on the SPCO’s website: A Musical Three-Course Meal, hosted by Matthew Wilson. Dipping into the SPCO’s extensive digital library, Wilson curated and will host “a nourishing evening of music that’s good for the ears and the soul.” Includes selections by C.P.E. Bach, Brahms and Rossini, special introductions to each piece and at-home performances by other members of the orchestra.