I am sure you have noticed that there has been a flood of posts from Hollywood & Whine lately. I took too long a break and figured Oscar season was the opportune time to dive back in and give you the content you have been longing for (ok, it’s not like I was getting a flood of emails or messages asking what happened).
I figure it was time to get to TOP GUN: MAVERICK. But really, what is the point of reviewing a movie that has been out for 9 months and that has made (checking Box Office Mojo) more than $718 million (nearly $1.5 billion worldwide). If you haven’t seen it, well I have to question your life choices and whether you like fun or even have a heart. I mean, MAVERICK is just 130 minutes of fun, action and nostalgia. It’s awesome. I dare you to challenge me or the millions of people around the world who have enjoyed the film.
So, what to talk about? I was intrigued by the comments from Steven Spielberg that Tom Cruise “saved Hollywood’s ass” and saved the theater industry. Spielberg has been very vocal about his frustrations with so-called “day and date” releases, the decision by studios (most notably HBO MAX) to release new films in theaters and on streaming on the same date. Several filmmakers hated it. Spielberg was among the most vocal bashing the idea. Cruise also refused to allow the release of TOP GUN: MAVERICK on a streaming service until it received an appropriate run in theaters. The movie dropped on Paramount+ just before Christmas. Almost 10 months after its theatrical release. Tom got his way and was proven correct the right movie would bring people back to theaters after the pandemic. It has been proven several times with Avatar: The Way of Water, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Spider-Man: No Way Home, No Time to Die and several others earned boatloads of cash (north of $500 million domestic) with theater first releases. So, maybe Steve should also thank Marvel, but well he’s not going to do that. He’s with Martin Scorsese in the opinion that the MCU is ruining movies. For all that, theaters are in no less trouble than before. Regal is closing theaters all over the country, including one it took over from Arclight in Sherman Oaks when that company closed during the early days the pandemic. A Laemmele Theater (a Los Angeles arthouse chain) is shuttering a theater around the corner from me because the landlord is going to tear it down to build luxury apartments (so much for affordable housing in L.A.) So, did Cruise really save theaters?
Look, I’m as in love with the movie-going experience as the next guy. Seeing TOP GUN: MAVERICK in a theater was the most fun I had since AVENGERS: ENDGAME. The audience was all in. People were cheering, sobbing and hooting and hollering throughout the movie. It was awesome. Then, when I wanted to see it again, I bought a digital copy on Apple (good deal, both Top Gun movies for $30). I didn’t need to go back to a theater. I could watch in the safety and comfort of my own home. Of the 10 Best Picture nominees, I have seen only TOP GUN: MAVERICK, THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN, THE FABELMANS and EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE IN THEATERS. The rest I watched either on streaming or DVD.
Maybe I am missing something by not participating in theatrical experience. Maybe it will eventually kill the mid-level or independent film. But no business can stay the same forever. The studios and filmmakers must adapt. I know it seems lazy to not go to a theater. That may be true, but I am lazy. I also don’t want to have to fight traffic, parking, people talking during the movie and other assorted annoyances. If I can watch something at home, then I will. For example, tonight I think I’m going to watch Babylon. I didn’t want to go to a theater to see it, but now I can. This all may seem counterintuitive for a guy who fancies himself a film critic. I’m not saying I will never go to a theater. I will. This year for example I will go see the new Ant-Man, Indiana Jones, and Fast & Furious movies in a theater. Just because they are fun in that environment. And I want to review them in a timely manner. But as I get older and crotchetier, I find myself just wanting to stay home. Why should I be robbed of great art because of that? The answer is I shouldn’t. Isn’t part of the point of movie making is have people see your creation? If that’s the case than getting more eyes on a film can’t be anything but good whether it’s in a theater or in your living room.