AMC continues to ride coronavirus roller coaster

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Following the plight of AMC Theaters through the pandemic’s nearly three-month closure of the movie exhibiting business has been a roller-coaster ride to say the least.

One week the world’s largest theater chain is on the brink of bankruptcy, then it is standing strong with promises of a cash infusion from its Chinese part-owners to now being on the ropes once again as there is chatter of some theaters reopening as soon as this month.

Right now there is no new word on exactly when theaters will reopen in Northwest Arkansas. The 112 Drive In opened last weekend and will be showing a double feature of “The Goonies” and “Wonder Woman” tonight through Sunday with the first feature starting around 8:45 p.m. and the second at approximately 11 p.m. The Drive In’s website has “The Goonies” listed as the first feature, while a Google search lists “Wonder Woman.”

CNN reported earlier this week that AMC does plan to reopen its theaters in July, but that company has “substantial doubt” that they will be able to remain open due to the substantial debt it acquired in refurbishing its theaters in recent years and because of the loss $2.1 to $2.4 billion in revenue since its theaters were shuttered in March.

Some pundits have surmised that the statement by AMC was as much a plea for investors to sink more cash into the business as anything, but that’s only speculation.

The coronavirus close-down has been hard on all movie exhibitors. “Variety” reported that as many as 40 percent of the movie theaters in China might not re-open because of the financial stress the closures place on the businesses.

AMC, of course, owns the AMC Fiesta Square Theater in Fayetteville, which it bought from Regal Theaters in 2016.

Malco Theaters, which owns the Razorback Cinema, Springdale Cinema, Rogers Towne Cinema, and Pinnacle Cinema, has yet to announce when its theaters in Northwest Arkansas will reopen. Malco’s Summer Drive Inn in Memphis has been operating for about a month in Memphis, but none of its theaters have opened as of yet.

While it has no direct effect on theaters in Northwest Arkansas, news that Cinemark plans to begin a phased re-opening of its theaters beginning June 19, according to “Variety,” is heartening news to those who are hankering to once again see a movie on the big screen.

That said, the rise in COVID-19 cases in Northwest Arkansas over the last week has to be concerning to Malco and AMC’s plans for reopening in our area. The rise in cases of coronavirus has caused Gov. Asa Hutchinson to pause in moving the entire state into Phase 2 of the CDC’s guidelines for reopening. Hutchinson even mentioned the possibility of areas of the state moving into Phase 2, while other areas wait until cases go down. The spike in cases in the last week has primarily been in the northwest quadrant of the state.

This is just speculation, but the spike could see theaters remain closed in Northwest Arkansas longer than in Pulaski County, where cases are more level.

An article by “Business Insider” reported that the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) predicted 90 percent of the world’s theaters that are going to re-open will be up and running by July 17 when the first big-budget tent-pole film of the year, “Tenet” opens from Warner Bros. A week later the Disney live-action remake of “Mulan” is set to bow on July 24.

I’m looking forward to seeing both films. Hopefully the infection rate of the coronavirus in Northwest Arkansas will be curtailed by the middle of next month so local film fans can once again return to theaters.

The Goonies

“The Goonies” is a special film to so many who grew up in the 1980s, but I have to admit, I don’t get the 1985 film’s charm.

If it is one of your favorites, the 112 Drive In is running it with “Wonder Woman” as a double feature tonight through Sunday.

Maybe, I was just a bit too old or thought I was when it debuted, but “The Goonies” never really worked for me. Even in a recent attempt at watching it again, I made it about half way through, but just wasn’t interested enough to finish the movie about a group of kids who attempt to save their homes from foreclosure by searching for the lost treasure of 17th-century pirate One-Eyed Willy.

The movie that was directed by Richard Donner, written by Chris Columbus, and produced by Steven Spielberg has more than just a cult following and is a good selection for a night at the Drive In to find out if whether the Goonies or the crooked Fratelli family can find Willy’s treasure first.

The film is full of gross-out and crude humor, but on the tame end of the spectrum. I’m sure Donner was attempting to recapture the magic and charm of the “Our Gang” comedies of the 1920s, 30s and 40s, but it just doesn’t hit that grove for me. It’s lacks the spontaneity of the Little Rascals, and the acting skills the young cast are just too uneven.

The movie is filled with familiar faces like Sean Astin (“Rudy” and “Lord of the Rings”) as the Goonies leader, supported by Josh Brolin (“No Country for Old Men” and “Avengers: End Game”), Corey Feldman (“Stand By Me” and “The Lost Boys”), former Oakland Raider John Matuszak as Sloth, noted character actor Joe Pantoliano as one of the Fratellis.

Again, the movie’s charm escapes me, but I know that I’m in the minority.

(PG) 1 hr. 55 min.
Grade: C

Wonder Woman

We won’t be able to see director Patty Jenkins new film “Wonder Woman 1984” until at least Aug. 14 when it’s set to debut in theaters, but 112 Drive In is showing the movie this weekend that is the reason why so many eagerly anticipating it.

The drive in is playing Jenkins’ 2017 smash hit “Wonder Woman” as part of a double feature with “The Goonies” tonight through Sunday.

The film stars Gal Gadot as the Princess of Power and Chris Pine as her sidekick and boy friend Col. Steve Trevor. Their chemistry makes the movie work along with Jenkins’ deft direction.

Jenkins delivered a strong, contemporary, big-screen translation of the venerable comic-book character without sacrificing the core traits that has made the Amazing Amazon popular since her creation in 1941 by writer William Moulton Marston and artist Harry G. Peter.

The stand-out scene among many great ones is when Wonder Woman tramps through no-man’s land to lead the allies in liberating a town occupied by the Germans. The scene truly establishes Gadot and Wonder Woman as a big-screen hero that can go toe-to-toe with any other character.

The movie is not perfect. It suffers from the third-act sameness that weighs down most super-hero films with the inevitable climactic clash between hero and villain. Some of the CGI effects are a bit too video game-ish, and at 2 hour and 29 minutes, the movie is a hair long. But it’s still a blast to watch on the big screen.

(PG-13) 2 hr 29 min.
Grade: B