Malco to reopen six theaters Monday, phase others in through mid-July

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There is no exact word on when movie theaters will reopen in Northwest Arkansas, but Memphis-based Malco Theaters will reopen six of its 35 theaters on Monday, and announced the rest of its theaters will return to business over the next month.

While the press release issued Wednesday did not specifically mention the Razorback, Springdale, Rogers Towne, or Pinnacle cinemas which service Northwest Arkansas, we can assume they will be part of the phased reopening.

Likewise, the world’s largest movie theater chain AMC, owner of the Fiesta Square 12, has also said it plans to have 90 percent of its theaters open by mid-July or August.

That’s good news for film fans even those who remain apprehensive about visiting a movie theater while the Covid-19 pandemic continues to pound Northwest Arkansas with infections for more than two weeks. Even if you’re not ready to return to a movie theater yet, it’s good news to hear that they will be reopening soon.

My heart tells me I’m ready to go back to the movie theater for the unmatched experience it offers, but my head tells that might not be the wisest move, considering the circumstances.

There’s basically a month until the Christopher Nolan-directed “Tenet” takes a bow on July 17, if Warner Bros. sticks with its planned debut date. Reportedly WB needs for around 80 percent of the world’s reopening theaters to be open for it to be worth maintaining the July 17 debut. The production budget for “Tenet” is reported to be $205 million. With marketing expenses tacked on, the film would need to make upwards of $410 million at the box office to break even.

With no new releases available at this point, the press release said Malco would run a combination of older movies, indie films, and pre-pandemic releases to fill its screens. Here’s a few mentioned: “The King of Staten Island,” “The High Note,” “Jaws,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Madagascar,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Trolls: World Tour,” “I Still Believe,” and “The Invisible Man.”

As much as I love “Jaws” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” I’m not sure I want to rush out to see either of them right now when considering the highly infectious nature and the dangers contracting the coronavirus poses for myself and members of my family.

Circumstances might have me feeling differently in another month.

Drive in for Garth

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Also announced this week is that country super star Garth Brooks will be featured in a concert film set to play at 300 drive-in theaters across the nation, including Fayetteville’s own 112 Drive-In, on June 27.

Here’s the catch, admission is $100 a car. Yeah, you read that right.

Far be it for me to tell anyone how to spend the money they’ve earned. I’ve bought a lot of dumb stuff in my lifetime, a lot. That said I can’t think of any entertainer alive or dead that I’d drop a Benjamin to watch on a drive-in screen and listen to on the radio in my car.

But more power to all the Garth Heads who are hankering to give it a try.

112 Drive-In – Grease

“Grease” was the word in 1978 when the throwback musical set in the 1950s topped the box office, and it’s the word this weekend as the lead picture in a double feature with 1984’s “Footloose” at the 112 Drive-In. It plays at 8:45 p.m. tonight through Sunday.

“Grease” has become a classic over the years fo film fans that grew up with it. It’s a teen fantasy that shines a spotlight on the talents of John Travolta at his apex as well as on his co-star Olivia Newton-John who play cool gang leader Danny and Sandy, the ingenue who caught his eye. The chemistry is palpable between the two.

Travolta’s charisma is on full display in the musical that homages and parodies the teen B-movies of the 1950s and ’60s. The film lacks the drama of his break-out hit “Saturday Night Fever” from 1977, but it’s more fun. Newton-John can’t match Travolta’s acting skills, but she’s perfectly cast as the adoring Sandy, who toughens up with a little help from her friends for the musical’s climax “You’re the One That I Want.”

The film also features standout numbers “Summer Loving,” “Hopelessly Devoted To You,” and “Greased Lightning,” along with several other fun tunes that help tell the tale of Danny and Sandy’s senior year at Rydell High.

The film is uniformly well cast with Stockard Channing stealing scenes as Rizzo, the leader of the Pink Ladies, and Jeff Conaway turning on the charm as Kenickie, Danny’s best friend and second in charge in their gang the T-Birds.

It’s really a perfect choice for the top bill of a drive-in double feature.

(PG) 1 hr. 51 min.
Grade: B

112 Drive-In – Footloose

“Footloose” is another movie that will take film fans of a certain age back in time to the ultra-conservative 1980s when the youth culture just rubbed the “Moral Majority” the wrong way.

The 1984 film, directed by Herbert Ross and starring Kevin Bacon and John Lithgow, is unintentionally silly and melodramatic, but it’s still a fun movie that pits the youth of a small Oklahoma town against the adults for the right to get to boogie.

The 112 Drive-In is showing the film tonight through Sunday as the second half of its double feature at 10:45 p.m.

Bacon plays Ren, a teen from Chicago that moves too Bomont, Okla., to live with his aunt and uncle. Music and dancing his his thing, but the Rev. Shaw Moore (Lithgow) led a campaign to outlaw dancing after his son was killed in a car wreck after a night of partying.

This puts Ren at odds with Moore, who just happens to be the father of Ariel (Lori Singer), the wild-at-heart girl, who has caught Ren’s eye. The high school kids want to have a prom, and Ren leads the battle against Moore and the city council for the right to do so.

The movie’s not a musical per se, but music is a driving force in the film, which often plays as an extended MTV video. That’s not a bad thing, though, if you are a fan of 1980s rock and pop.

Really, the music is the best thing about the movie. It features Kenny Loggins’ title cut as well as “I’m Free.” Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero,” Deniece Williams’ “Let’s Hear It for the Boy,” and “Almost Paradise” by Mike Reno of Loverboy and Ann Wilson from Heart are a few other key songs used in the movie that were popular during the period.

The film is too ham-fisted and simplistic to be taken seriously, and it’s at its best when kids are cutting loose rather than focusing on the plot. “Footloose” is a fun movie, but not particularly a good one. However, it does make an interesting pairing with “Grease.”

(PG) 1 hr. 50 min.
Grade: C