My childhood wasn’t spent swimming in cash.
Dad was in automotive manufacturing during what was rather tumultuous times for the industry, and Mom worked in retail. We weren’t poor, mind you. Let’s just say we were penny pinchers by necessity.
Going to the movies was a real treat that came few and far between. Fortunately, though, we lived in a small town — population 1,500, give or take a few — with no theater. So, it wasn’t like the bright lights of the marquee were in my face flaunting a luxury I couldn’t afford. In fact, the closest theater was 12 miles away. Worse yet, the closest legit theater with multiple screens was 20 miles away.
We were stuck waiting until movies came out on VHS or, worse yet, until they made their way to TV. We were a little behind the times to say the least.
Flash forward to today, and I’m a super geek for theaters playing previously run movies. That’s because it’s a chance for me to finally see them on the big screen. A few years back, I got to see an anniversary showing of “Dirty Dancing” in a theater. And just last year, I caught “The Shawshank Redemption” on its 25th anniversary.
So, imagine my surprise when I visited the Fandango website this week to see if there were any showings for what used to be the Daily Journal’s weekly rundown of theater offerings — back in pre-pandemic times.
What I found was showtimes for several older run movies, including “Ghostbusters,” playing at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Kankakee. Geek mode ensues.
None of the titles were anniversary showings, so I wondered what was going on over there.
I called up Chris Johnson, CEO of Classic Cinemas, to find out.
“’Cause there’s no new movies to play,” he said with a laugh.
Turns out the studios aren’t releasing new movies yet, thanks to the pandemic. Those won’t come until later this month and into August. They’re waiting for more theaters to open, specifically in key cities New York and Los Angeles, he said.
“Saint Maud” is coming July 17, and “Unhinged” is set for a July 31 release. The first big post-pandemic blockbuster — Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” starring Josh David Washington and Robert Pattinson — is coming Aug. 12.
In the meantime, he says, they’re filling in the gaps with previously run titles.
They’re all great titles worth seeing for the first time or for a second time, he said. And for the truly old school titles — “Ghostbusters,” “Jurassic Park” and “The Empire Strikes Back” — it’s also a great chance to share a piece of your formative years with your children.
Johnson said he hopes the titles attract more viewers to the theaters, which have been open for a week with diminished crowds.
“Everybody that’s gone has loved it,” he said of those who have ventured back out to theaters after their three-month closure. “It’s just a matter of getting more people to get out and go. There was definitely that core group that wanted to get in right away and they did.”
He said he wishes more people would come back to the movies, but he understands the hesitation. But, he said, the theater is taking additional precautions to ensure the safety of all.
For those who have worries, he said, you will find plenty of room to space out in the theater.
The additional precautions are new, but the escapism of watching a movie on the big screen is not.
“Once you settle in, get your concessions and all that, it is just an amazing escape,” he said. “One you don’t really appreciate until after it’s done.”
Movies are a chance to enjoy something collectively and forget “about all the stuff that’s going on.”
This week you’re invited to escape with “Trolls World Tour,” “The Jungle Book,” “Deadpool,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Ghostbusters.”
Coming next is “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Black Panther,” “Inside Out,” “Jurassic Park,” “Beauty and the Beast” (live-action version) and “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
If you’re looking for me this week, you’ll find me at “Ghostbusters.” Next week, you’ll find me at “Jurassic Park.”