Hamilton / Courtesy photo
If we have learned anything from observing the film industry during a global pandemic, it’s when the sands shift, the dominoes begin to fall.
The drastic uptick in coronavirus cases in the Sun Belt states as well as in Arizona and California in recent weeks has prompted a pause in the reopening of businesses in those areas, and movie studios and theater chains did not go unaffected.
Just a week after reopening two of its movie theaters in Northwest Arkansas, Malco Theaters of Memphis announced Tuesday that its Rogers Towne Cinema would close back up until August and that the Malco Razorback Cinema and IMAX would operate on a reduced schedule of Friday through Sunday during the month of July.
AMC Theaters of Leawood, Kan., which operates the Fiesta Square 12 Cinema in Fayetteville, announced Monday that it would push the reopening of its theaters back to July 30 in response to movie studios like Warner Bros. and Disney once again changing the debut dates of their latest films.
Last week, Warner Bros. announced that director Christopher Nolan’s new movie “Tenet” would be held until Aug. 14. Disney quickly responded by moving its live-action remake of “Mulan” until Aug. 21.
As we’ve learned from past announcements, we should take these recent ones with a grain of salt. If the nation is unable to get a grip on the month-long surge of coronavirus infections, we should, no doubt, expect more changes.
The Malco Razorback continues to play a mixture of classic summer blockbusters this weekend with a few newish releases at reduced ticket prices of $6 per person for all showings.
The 112 Drive In’s double feature for this weekend is Disney’s remake of “The Jungle Book” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
Disney + and ESPN Pick Up Slack
While studios keep backtracking on new releases, the Disney + streaming platform and ESPN are stepping in this Fourth of July weekend to fill the void with music.
The filmed version of smash Broadway musical “Hamilton” debuts today (Friday) on Disney +, telling us the hip-hop version of the life of one of our key Founding Fathers Alexander Hamilton, through the lens of multi-talented composer, lyricist, singer, rapper, and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda.
The film was originally scheduled to open in October 2021, but the pandemic’s shutdown of film and TV production prompted Disney to move its debut up more than a year and to its fledgling streaming platform to provide subscribers with new content.
Alexander Hamilton, of course, was the American Revolutionary War figure, who rose from being Gen. George Washington’s aide to become the United States first Secretary of the Treasury. He was instrumental in laying the foundation of American government and finance. He played a key role in the ratification of the Constitution by writing the majority of the “Federalist Papers,” which remain key references for Constitutional interpretations today.
He also was the founder of the Federalist Party, the U.S.’s first political party, which dominated the national government fro 1789 until Hamilton’s death in 1801.
To put it lightly, Hamilton’s impact on the founding of our nation was immense, and in many ways unparalleled.
Miranda’s musical uses a diverse cast and diverse musical choices to tell the remarkable and quite tragic story of a true American genius.
Critics have given Disney’s filmed version of the play solid reviews, although there is no way for a film to capture the energy and spontaneous excitement of a live performance.
I’ve yet to see the musical in person, though I hope to catch a touring performance one day. Like so many others, I’ll be tuning into Disney + in the near future to see what “Hamilton” is all about.
Eagles Live From the Forum MMXVII
Even during this entertainment-starved draught of a pandemic, it still seems odd that ESPN is the platform for one of America’s most beloved musical acts to choose to debut its latest concert film.
But that’s what’s happening at 7 p.m. (Central) Sunday when ESPN televises “Eagles Live from the Forum MMXVIII.”
I guess the “E” in ESPN does stand for entertainment, but it still seems an odd choice.
“Sports and music have long been at the top of the list for being able to bring people of all types together. The Eagles have been doing just that for almost half a century,” said Chris Berman, longtime ESPN sports anchor and pundit in a press release. “We at ESPN are thrilled beyond belief to share this premiere with everyone! What a wonderful way to cap off the holiday weekend!”
The title of the film is a bit of a misnomer. It was filmed live, but it was cobbled together from three performances at The Forum in Los Angeles in September 2018, but as a fan of the band since I was in elementary school in the 1970s, I’m not going to quibble too much. They could call the concert film Fred, and I’d still watch.
The coronavirus postponed the Eagles concert in Dallas that I was anticipating attending in March. It’s been rescheduled for September of 2021, if the world is still spinning at that point. This concert film should tide me and other Eagles fans over until the band does resume touring.
I’ve not seen the Eagles perform live since the death of the band’s founder and original leader Glenn Frey in Jan. 2016. I’m very interested in hearing his son Deacon’s take on several of the band’s classic tunes like “Peaceful Easy Feeling” and “Take It Easy.”
Country super-star Vince Gill, who fronted the country rock band Pure Prairie League before he found solo stardom in Nashville, has also joined the band.
Gill and Frey were very good friends and golfing buddies, and Gill’s voice and guitar skills seem like an excellent match for the band, which is being steered by lone founding member Don Henley and band manager Irving Azoff. Henley once referred to the tough-dealing Azoff as “Satan,” but added, “He’s our Satan.”
Gill’s sweet tenor voice will be featured on “Lying Eyes,” “Heartache Tonight,” and “New Kid in Town,” which were originally sang by Glenn Frey. Gill also will sing “Take It to the Limit,” which original bassist Randy Meisner first sang and made a hit. Gill may be one of the few singers whose voice can reach the same high notes Meisner did with the song.
Henley, the vocalist/drummer who wrote most of the band’s hit lyrics with Frey, is joined by guitar hero/vocalist Joe Walsh (James Gang) and bassist/vocalist Timothy B. Schmit (Poco) have been with the band since 1975 and 1977 respectively.
Of course, there was that long pause from 1980 to 1994 when Henley and Frey carved out profitable solo careers, and Eagles music only became more and more popular thanks to be a staple of Classic Rock radio stations.
Guitarist Steuart Smith isn’t a recognized member of the band; however, he does handle many of the bands most popular guitar solos in concert, including dueling with Walsh at the end of the band’s signature song “Hotel California” as well as playing the song’s haunting intro.
Smith, who often plays in Henley’s solo band, began touring with the Eagles after the band acrimoniously parted ways with guitarist Don Felder in 2000. Felder joined the Eagles in 1974 and in many ways defined the harder rock sound of the band starting with their album “On the Border.” He wrote the music to “Hotel California” as well as many memorable guitar solos such as the searing one the close out “One of These Nights.”
The late Frey was a huge sports fan. He loved his hometown Detroit Tigers, was an excellent golfer, and owned season tickets to the Los Angles Kings and Lakers since the 1970s. So I guess it’s appropriate that the band he started with Henley, Bernie Leadon and Meisner back in 1971 is having its latest concert broadcast on ESPN?
No, it’s still odd.
But, hey, who am I to complain. I’ll be watching Sunday night. As Steely Dan sang in their 1976 tune “Everything You Did,” turn up the Eagles; the neighbors are listening.
New In Local Movie Theaters
- Followed – (R) 1 hr. 36 min. (watch trailer)
Playing at: Malco Razorback
- The Jungle Book – (PG) 1 hr. 51 min. (watch trailer)
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens – (PG-13) 2 hr. 15 min. (watch trailer)
- Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back – (PG) 2 hr. 7 min. (watch trailer)
Playing: July 9-12
- Inside Out – (PG) 1 hr. 42 min. (watch trailer)
Playing: July 11-12