Matt Katz: You're listening to the takeaway. I'm Matt Katz in for Tanzina. Do you have any experience in motion pictures?
Speaker 1: Active renter at blockbuster.
Matt Katz: Can we talk about something other than Hollywood for a change?
Speaker 2: Miss. Taken. You know Mr. Taken from the taken movies, this is his niece.
Speaker 3: A studio makes pictures to serve the system.
Speaker 4: Your job is to rate movies on a scale from good to excellent.
Matt Katz: 2020 was a rough year for movie theaters. The biggest chains took major financial hits and many beloved local theaters had to close their doors for good. This summer, movie theaters are back and you don't have to take my word for it. Just listen to Vin Diesel.
Vin Diesel: For more than 100 years, there's one place where we all came together to be entertained, to escape, to go someplace new, in movies. There's nothing like that moment when the lights go down, the projector ignites, and we believe.
Matt Katz: And we eat popcorn. Now, Vin Diesel has a major incentive to get people back into theater seats. The ninth installment in his Fast and Furious franchise comes out at the end of June. More than a year into the pandemic, some people still feel uncomfortable spending hours in a dark theater with a group of strangers and others might just prefer the ease of streaming movies at home. What will the coming months look like at the movies.
Van Diesel: The Movies.
Matt Katz: Here with me now to talk about it is Rafer Guzman film critic for Newsday. Rafer, great to have you back on the show.
Rafer Guzman: Hi, Matt. How are you doing?
Matt Katz: I'm doing great, thank you. I'm not going to ask whether we need to see a ninth Fast and Furious. I'm going to first ask, whether we should be going back to the theaters? You've recently started going back in-person. What's it like?
Rafer Guzman: Yes, I've done it a couple of different ways actually. I've been a paying customer. I have done the private rental for me and my family. I've been a critic where I've gone back to a private screening room and sat and watched an advanced screening of a movie. I would say it's wonderful to be back. If you're going to a regular old theater, you're going to see the same differences I think that you're seeing everywhere else. Things are a lot emptier, people are keeping their distance from each other, everyone's got a mask, the usual thing. It's pretty darn nice to be back in a movie theater with that $80 popcorn on your lap and sitting there watching something on a big screen.
I watched Raya and the Last Dragon, the new Disney movie. I'd seen it on my computer, I gave it a so-so review. I saw it in the theaters and I got to tell you on the big screen, I thought this a lot better. This is a lot better movie seeing it on the big screen.
Matt Katz: Was it the screen? Was it the sound? Was is it the communal experience? Why was it better? Do you think?
Rafer Guzman: I think it's just everything. You're there with other people. I was there with my kids, watching that movie. My kids reacted to it a lot better, the jokes landed with them a little more than they did with me. You've got that big screen that just takes up your whole field of vision. I know we've all got fairly big TVs these days, but you can't really replace that big screen experience, the sound that's all over you. It's so much more immersive. You're in the dark. Your phone is not ringing, no one's walking back and forth in front of you, going back to the kitchen or doing whatever, it's that movie feeling. I agree with Vin Diesel, it's just where the magic happens.
Matt Katz: What's different about theaters now. Many theaters have undergone a number of changes to comply with public health guidelines. Were you noticing any of those changes while you were inside these theaters?
Rafer Guzman: I think a lot of theaters are redoing their ventilation systems and stuff. That's the thing you're probably not going to notice, that's very behind the scenes. If you go get popcorn, you’re not going to be able to go pump your own butter. They're going to give it to you and then the little tiny thing that they use for hot sauce, a little thing of that oil. Which really makes you realize what you're putting on that popcorn, when you can really see it. It really gives you some second thoughts, I've got to tell you.
Matt Katz: It's delicious [crosstalk]
Rafer Guzman: Oh, it is delicious, I can't live without it. Some of that stuff. Again, you can't pump your own drinks, you've got to give it to somebody and that person is going to turn around and fill it up for you and then give it back to you and then give your straw. People are being pretty careful. Everyone's got the gloves on, everyone's still got their masks on indoors, ff course. The same as you'll notice when you go to the cafe or something, and you go to the donut shop or whatever. Things have changed and things are going to be different. I think for some time to come.
Matt Katz: Some studios like Warner Brothers and Disney are going to keep releasing their movies, both in the theaters and then on streaming services simultaneously, at least for a little while. This is a new shift, it's a new thing. What are some of the major releases that are coming out that are getting this type of hybrid release?
Rafer Guzman: There's quite a few. I think that the two big players in that space, I think are just like you said, Disney and Warner Brothers, they're the ones that have really gone whole hog on this. For instance, Cruella, the origin story of Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmatians with Emma Stone, that's coming out May 28th. That'll also be on Disney+, but again, you got to pay extra, it's premier access, it's an extra $30 fee to see Cruella. They're doing the same thing with Black Widow, July 9th. That's going to be in theaters, but also on Disney+ with the premier access.
Warner Brothers is doing all this with HBO Ma. In the Heights, they're going to do that way. I think all Warner brothers movies are going to be on in theaters and on HBO Max.
Some of these will be on Disney where you pay extra, some of the middle of be on Disney where you don't pay extra. Some will be in theaters only. Disney is being a little more careful about that. For instance, their big Beatles documentary from Peter Jackson Get Back that's out August 27th, that's a Disney movie, but that's in theaters only. They want people to come out and see that one, so it depends on the title.
Matt Katz: If you have the option to screen it at home, and it's only a couple of bucks, are you going to go to the theaters? You will enjoy the experience? Do you imagine that there'll be enough people to keep going to theaters, even if they have the option to sit at home on the couch?
Rafer Guzman: I think that's the big question for all this stuff. For me, I think the real signpost for whether or not the movies are really back and whether they still hold that place in our hearts. I think it's going to be Black Widow because there is a movie that's going to be in theaters, but also on premiere access. This is a huge movie, Scarlett Johansson, she's a massive movie star, people love her in this the Black Widow role, from The Avengers. All these other Marvel heroes have had their own stand-alone movies. This is her first, it's been delayed for a year. It was originally supposed to come out last May. There's a lot of pent-up demand for this.
Now you've got a choice, are you going to stay home and pay the 30 bucks flat fee and your whole family, and maybe even your friends can all sit around and watch it in your home safely? Or do you go out to the movies, pay the $15 per person, pay that extra premium for the popcorn and the Coke and the M&M's. Will people go out and do that? Will they make the choice? I think that'll be really interesting, if people stay home or just wait for that to come on video, that's going to be a troubling sign. If they get out and go see it, then I really feel like, hey, the movies are back.
Matt Katz: Oh, interesting. Until I can figure out how to make that butter concoction myself at home, I think I'll have to continue to go to the theaters. Rafer Guzman is the film critic for Newsday. Rafer, thanks so much. Enjoy the films.
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