“We are back!” Arnold Schwarzenegger exclaimed enthusiastically, before speaking about the importance of resurrecting the theatrical experience for moviegoers last week. The one-time action star told a socially distanced audience last week at the AMC Century City 15 theater in Los Angeles, “Now it’s time to get back to the big screen.” The event was one of the first in-person opportunities for the industry to present its most important upcoming projects.
It was called the “Big Screen is Back” initiative, the actor and the former California governor was joined by filmmakers and major Hollywood studio executives. J.J. Abrams, Maggie Q, Sam Richardson, Janicza Bravo, and David Bruckner were among the other speakers.
“If you have the movie and you don’t have the theaters, you don’t have nothing,” Schwarzenegger said. “Yes, we’ve seen over the past year in the pandemic, that people watch movies on their little iPhone and iPad and put on their glasses to see what’s going on there. They are missing special and visual effects and all the great stuff you usually see on the big screen.”
Movie clips and trailers from Disney, Sony, and other studios were also shown during the three-hour event. Extended scenes from Warner Bros.’ “In the Heights,” Disney’s “Cruella,” Universal’s “F9,” Paramount’s “Snake Eyes,” and MGM Studios/United Artist Releasing’s Aretha Franklin biopic “Respect” were shown. Each speaker urged moviegoers to return to theaters as the industry tries to recover from the pandemic that shut down theaters a year ago.
Maggie Q, who stars in the upcoming action film “The Protégé,” expressed her delight at the prospect of seeing her work again in theaters. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige appeared in a pre-recorded message before introducing a sizzle reel that included “Black Widow,” and Bravo gave a sneak peek into her film “Zola.”
“With every inch of the frame, we set out to craft an epic cinematic experience that is visually spectacular and totally engrossing,” Feige said. “We want you to feel like you’re a part of the action,” says the narrator. It’s by far the best way to see a Marvel film, or any film for that matter.” Abrams gave an energizing speech, saying that some of his most memorable experiences occurred in places like movie theaters.
Will their pleadings be enough to draw audiences back to overpriced concessions and high ticket prices. Will moviegoers overcome their COVlD fears and head back to the cineplex? Or has streaming at home become the movie going experience of choice?