Calendar: August 7-13, 2020

August 8th, 2020

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

8/7: Rachel Rebecca Berry (instructor, “Make a Movie” virtual camp, Class Act, Champaign, IL)

 

NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
Closed for the week.

@ Family Video, Champaign-Urbana, IL
SWALLOW, MR. JONES, DIRT MUSIC, EXIT PLAN, COMA, THE SOUL COLLECTOR, PATRIOT: A NATION AT WAR, GATES OF DARKNESS, JACK RYAN (s2), HIS DARK MATERIALS (s1), more! (8/7 on)

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL
Closed for the week. “Virtual Virginia Theatre” screenings: HEAVEN CAN WAIT (1943), AND THEN THERE WERE NONE (1945), THE ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR “House Guest” episode (1962) free on YouTube, BILL AND TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE for Purchase (8/7 on)

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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Student art doc wins BEA award

August 3rd, 2020

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“Negotiation” is often a key word in the culture we strive to uphold in our communities. Last week, I briefly debated whether a local multiplex preferred by many in Champaign, Urbana, and Savoy will stand a chance in the economic doldrums of the present, assuming the landlord partners with new management to reopen it. This week, I’ll offer my two cents on the resolution of how a public artwork loved by many in Bloomington, Normal, and nearby towns will be handled as the owner of the building it resides on wants to make way for redevelopment. The conflict at the core of the latter situation is addressed in a 20-minute-long short called MAKING A MURAL, produced by Illinois State University students earlier this year and embedded below for your convenience. You can also watch a preview at FilmFreeway.

Claire Bottom, Colin Connelly, Akila Howard, and Ian Roberds teamed up in a spring semester course taught by professor Brent Simonds to make a documentary on the ubiquitous mural in downtown Normal. As told by Roberds to Laura Kennedy of WGLT-FM, the university’s public radio station, it challenged the group to look deeper into the controversy surrounding the mural and also find a way to amend their workflow so they could finish the film from a distance, having returned to their respective homes after ISU closed down its campus. The classmates’ effort paid off as MAKING A MURAL earned them an Award of Excellence in the “Short Form Documentary” category of the 2020 Broadcast Education Association (BEA) Festival of Media Arts, a national juried competition for educators and students that celebrates its winners during the annual BEA convention, shortened and held virtually this year due to the pandemic. Out of more than 1,700 entries, 368 video and audio programs received citations.

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Without taking away from their achievement, certainly a bright spot for the foursome and their instructor after watching their semester slip away due to pandemic restrictions, the situation presented in MAKING A MURAL is a bit discouraging for all involved. Voicing support for the artwork is Natalie Wetzel, the former owner of boutique shop The Pod that once resided at the address where the mural remains, and Janean Baird, one of the contributors who painted its panels in 2011 after Wetzel proposed the idea. Expressing a desire to clear the property is Normal mayor Chris Koos, who claims the mural was always expected to be an ephemeral piece, and R.C. McBride, general manager of WGLT and a former town council member who sees worth in establishing a modern mixed-use building at 104-108 East Beaufort Street in line with similar construction that has reshaped the downtown area in the last 15 years. Heartfelt sentiment goes up against revenue-generating opportunism to no one’s surprise.

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Calendar: July 31-Aug. 6, 2020

August 1st, 2020

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

8/2: Jeff Kacmarynski (writer/director, ESSENCE, Refractive Error Media, Champaign, IL)
8/2: Satina Braswell (co-owner, Dark Moon Loot, Urbana, IL)
8/3: Daniela LaFave (SEO specialist, National Instruments, Austin, TX)
8/5: Steve Scott (design manager, Dungeons & Dragons, WotC/Hasbro, Renton, WA)
8/6: Jason Cerezo (co-owner, ThirdSide, Champaign, IL)
8/6: Sam Ambler (producer, Ambler Video, Champaign, IL)

 

MFHQ MEMO | From Chambana LaSalle County with Love Mask On

Well, that’s aggravating. Confirmed cases of COVID-19 are rising in the immediate region where I’m staying at Momkoke Manor. The numbers are enough of a concern that Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker made an appearance in nearby Ottawa on Thursday to plead his case for local officials and authorities to plead their case to the citizens, lest restrictions be tightened up again in the very near future. I might be confined to MFHQ Remote even longer than I had anticipated. I also might not come to Champaign-Urbana any time soon because I don’t have a place nearby to care for my parent. What now? I’ll just sit here and fiddle with content, I guess, such as making note of the 10th anniversary of the first Calendar on C-U Blogfidential. It appeared on Friday, July 30, 2010, buried in this short-lived column. The first listings were just as sparse as they are today but for wildly different reasons. Eegah! Stay safe.

 

NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
Closed for the week.

@ Family Video, Champaign-Urbana, IL
YOU SHOULD HAVE LEFT, SAMURAI MARATHON, THE OTHER LAMB, LIGHT FROM LIGHT, END OF SENTENCE, LEGACY OF LIES, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK (s7), THE OUTSIDER (s1), more! (7/28 on)

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL
Closed for the week. “Virtual Virginia Theatre” screenings: HEAVEN CAN WAIT (1943), AND THEN THERE WERE NONE (1945), THE ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR “House Guest” episode (1962) free on YouTube, BILL AND TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE for Purchase (7/31 on)

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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Calendar: July 24-30, 2020

July 25th, 2020

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

7/24: Colin Gabriel Price (author, Red Light and Other Tales, Page Publishing, New York, NY)

 

MFHQ MEMO | From Chambana Charleston with Love Levity

Next week, you will notice the placeholder listing for the Savoy 16 will be absent from the Calendar. It is a formality given our report yesterday where we confirmed that Goodrich Quality Theaters is not continuing their lease with EPR Properties at the multiplex location in Savoy. That said, we received a brief follow-up message from Matt McSperin, vice president of administration and finance at “New GQT,” who let us know “[I]t is my understanding that another theater company plans to reopen it and take over the lease.” We’ll have to wait for the word to come from EPR and their prospective tenant on what could be in store; neither may be ready to rush in and play Savoy superhero without anticipated new releases from the major studios or clearance from the Illinois government to resume showing movies. “We will miss our customers in central Illinois, particularly since I grew up 45 minutes from there,’ offered McSparin, “but we do wish the Champaign area well.” I appreciated that Matt and his brother Jake responded right away to my query and hope that taking on Goodrich, along with their other sites under the VIP Cinemas brand, will be a worthwhile venture for them once we make it past these dark days for public entertainment. It is yet another instance where we must acknowledge the economic ramifications of that business we call show.

 

CONFIDENTIAL ALMANAC | Dates in Film Culture History

15 Years AgoFriday, July 22, 2005: On “Collector’s Day,” That’s Rentertainment launched the arduous task of purging approximately 16,000 VHS cassettes from their library to make way for DVD replacements and fresh stock. After dropping prices daily through that weekend, the sale racks would linger for another two years until the remainders vanished. Approximately 100 tapes remain in a token VHS section … but not for long. [R]

 

NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
Closed for the week.

@ Family Video, Champaign-Urbana, IL
SCOOB!, CAPONE, DEADTECTIVES, SURVIVE THE NIGHT, NOBODY DIES, THE ROOM (2019), ATTRACTION 2: INVASION, A KILLER NEXT DOOR, CASTLE ROCK (s2), more! (7/21 on)

@ Goodrich Savoy 16, Savoy, IL
Closed.

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL
Closed for the week. “Virtual Virginia Theatre” screenings: HEAVEN CAN WAIT (1943), AND THEN THERE WERE NONE (1945), THE ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR “House Guest” episode (1962) free on YouTube, BILL AND TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE for Purchase (7/24 on)

@ online streaming
Roger Ebert’s Film Festival presents A MOST BEAUTIFUL THING (REFF 2020 selection) (7/27-7/29) Information

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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It’s ‘The End’ for GQT at Savoy 16

July 24th, 2020

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We have unfortunate news to share, dearest viewers, although some of you have possibly been anticipating it as the pandemic wears on. Thanks to a tip by Confidential agent JK, we learned from a press release issued last Friday, July 17, that most of the assets of Goodrich Quality Theaters (GQT) in Kentwood, MI, have been purchased by two New York-based firms, Mason Asset Management and Namdar Realty Group. It rescues the chain from bankruptcy proceedings, although not all the previous GQT locations carry over in the new deal. I reached out to Jake McSparin, vice president of theater operations at the revamped “New GQT” chain, for clarification and he responded via e-mail, “I can confirm that the Savoy 16 IMAX will not continue on as a Goodrich Quality Theater.” This development effectively reduces the number of first-run screens in Savoy and Champaign-Urbana to less than half from the same time frame a year ago, while the Willow Knolls 14 in Peoria is the only one of the four GQT sites in Illinois that is being readied to open under the New GQT brand between now and the end of August.

McSparin, along with family members Mark and Matt, will manage the 22 surviving Goodrich locations through their company VIP Cinemas, which also owns or operates 11 houses in several Midwest states and is headquartered in nearby Charleston. What happened in Savoy, then? “GQT was unable to develop a continued partnership with the landlord at this location,” explained McSparin in his reply, identifying them as EPR Properties of Kansas City, MO. One look at the theater portfolio on the webpage of EPR, a real estate investment trust (REIT) that owns and leases commercial sites across the United States to companies that trade in memorable customer experiences, and I wonder how much the future of Savoy 16 is up in the air. EPR might sell it since the exhibition industry is abysmal and they have nearly 200 other theaters to watch over. EPR could also court any of the dozen or so chains such as AMC, Cinemark, or Regal that are tenants in their facilities elsewhere. Interestingly, the interior design of their theaters can be retrofit to accommodate other kinds of merchants as detailed in this animated video. It’s a handy option if multiplexes remain closed due to COVID-19 restrictions and the plot of Savoy land is valuable to them, assuming Savoy 16 was built for this. I’ve written to EPR for comment on their plans.

All that loyal customers can do in the present is remember their best moments with family, friends and favorite movies at Savoy 16 while we await AMC to resume shows in north Champaign. I seemed to prefer Savoy for my Hollywood screenings and appreciated the chain’s dedication to contemporary Asian films, special event programming, and the rare low-budget release, so I’ll miss making the trek south on Route 45 for a visit. According to Perry C. Morris’ ever-expanding website, Champaign Urbana Theater History, construction commenced for the original Savoy 10 in May 1990 and Goodrich welcomed their first audiences on December 19 of that year. Four screens were added in 1993 and two more in 1998, after which a major remodeling incorporated the area’s first IMAX screen in 2013. Months shy of their 30th anniversary in Savoy, Goodrich opened their last wide-release films back on Friday, March 13BLOODSHOT, EMMA., THE HUNT, I STILL BELIEVE – while the final attraction to debut there was the CBN-funded dramatization, I AM PATRICK: THE PATRON SAINT OF IRELAND, on Tuesday, March 17. The auditorium lights at 232 W. Burwash Avenue went dark a day or two later.

No matter what EPR announces, the parting of Goodrich and the Savoy 16 IMAX affects the place of cinema in Champaign County just like several other recent occurrences. You can hit the links to read about how venue owners are doing what they can to combat a loss in revenue, when blatant neglect adds insult to injury, and why underachieving foresight amounts to plain and simple insult. In better news, AMC Champaign 13 should come back, the Virginia Theatre will come back, and the Avon Theater is back and hopping with popcorn. What else do we have? For the sake of our communities, commerce, and cultural arts, the foundation must be strengthened with new materials if not rebuilt from scratch if we want to avoid relegating the motion picture to flat screens, monitors, tablets, and smart phones. Once we thwart the virus, I want to see viral evidence aplenty of filmic action and innovation stirring up the C-U again.

~ Jason Pankoke

[Updated 7/24/20, 5 p.m. CST]

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Calendar: July 17-23, 2020

July 18th, 2020

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

7/21: Shawnee E. Tefteller (owner, Shawnee Studios: Model & Talent Management/Casting, Mt. Olive, IL)
7/22: Wanda Kanagy (account executive, Premier Print Group, Champaign, IL)
7/23: Randy Wheat (owner, Imagemaker Video Productions, Normal, IL)

 

NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
Closed for the week.

@ Family Video, Champaign-Urbana, IL
BODY CAM, THE SWING OF THINGS, CASTLE IN THE GROUND, ENTER THE FAT DRAGON, AWOKEN, PIT STOP, REBORN, more! (7/14 on)

@ Goodrich Savoy 16, Savoy, IL
Closed for the week.

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL
Closed for the week. “Virtual Virginia Theatre” screenings: BILL AND TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE, HEAVEN CAN WAIT (1943) (7/17 on) Purchase

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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Calendar: July 10-16, 2020

July 11th, 2020

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

7/10: Paul Wood (journalist, The News-Gazette, Champaign, IL, retired)
7/12: Michael Wiese (president, Michael Wiese Productions, Studio City, CA)
7/14: Griffin Hammond (senior video creative, The Recount, New York, NY)
7/14: Shane M. Dallmann (contributor, Video Watchdog/Video Watchblog, Cincinnati, OH)
7/15: Charlie Kessler (freelance editor/filmmaker, Chicago, IL)
7/15: Jill Van Voorst (owner, LIX, Urbana, IL)

 

NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
Closed for the week.

@ Family Video, Champaign-Urbana, IL
TROLLS WORLD TOUR, BLOOD AND MONEY, HOPE GAP, SWEETNESS IN THE BELLY, THE LOST HUSBAND, BELZEBUTH, PROXIMITY, more! (7/7 on)

@ Goodrich Savoy 16, Savoy, IL
Closed for the week.

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL
Closed for the week. “Virtual Virginia Theatre” screenings: BILL AND TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE, HEAVEN CAN WAIT (1943) (7/10 on) Purchase

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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Talents come together in support

July 10th, 2020

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Last week, when I wrote about how the suppressed economy has affected local culture by using theatrical spaces as my examples, I did not reflect on how it also hurts dozens of employees and owners who are still mired without dependable incomes. Of the thousands more in Illinois and millions across the United States facing extended shortfalls like these individuals, consider that a large percentage had already been struggling before March. We also have no accurate timetable as to when joblessness in our state will significantly shrink or how nominal unemployment benefits can honestly help our citizens.

Sure, getting one’s finances stabilized is a chore during a pandemic. Maintaining one’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being at the same time is a much more precarious issue. We’re all hammered by the repercussions of COVID-19, but strife is exponential for those in our cities and towns with perennially low incomes and little other resource who struggle in affording basic needs, including key medical services, while racism, classism, and violence take a huge toll. Fortunately, creativeness and leadership can offer a well-timed response in down moments like the present that both lifts us up and inspires us to take action for the good of our neighbors. Video is the vehicle allowing voices to be heard in this instance.

On Friday, June 26, a fundraising incentive called “C-U Sings” debuted with a collaborative cover of The Beatles’ “Let it Be” performed by more than 50 vocalists and instrumentalists. Visit YouTube to watch the performance, discover who contributed to this rendition, and learn how the project came to be through the core efforts of businessman James Barnham and studio engineers James Treichler, Ryan Groff, and Mark Rubel. More importantly, all proceeds donated through the “C-U Sings” page at the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois website will go towards the operating costs of Promise Healthcare, a network of professional services and facilities in Champaign-Urbana that provides for the underserved, and Champaign County Health Care Consumers, an office that educates and advocates for just practices in our unwieldy medical system. Barnham wants the drive to bank more than $10,000 for them both, according to a News-Gazette feature, and hedges that further “volumes” might not be far off.

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Calendar: July 3-9, 2020

July 4th, 2020

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

7/3: Jorge Cazares (design specialist, Adept Content Solutions, Urbana, IL)
7/5: Leila Ramagopal Pertl (actress, DELTA QUEEN music video, Champaign Underground, Champaign, IL)
7/5: Paul Riismandel (cohost, Radio Survivor podcast, San Francisco, CA)
7/7: Keenan Dailey (actor, CAN’T STOP THINKING BOUT YOU music video, Swede Films, Urbana, IL)
7/9: Jessie Seitz (co-owner, 93/93 Pictures, Urbana, IL)

 

NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
Closed for the week.

@ Family Video, Champaign-Urbana, IL
FORCE OF NATURE, FOUR KIDS AND IT, ENDINGS BEGINNINGS, THE HAMMER, LANCASTER SKIES, PENANCE LANE, more! (6/30 on)

@ Goodrich Savoy 16, Savoy, IL
Closed for the week.

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL
Closed for the week. “Virtual Virginia Theatre” screenings: BILL AND TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE, HEAVEN CAN WAIT (1943) (7/3 on) Purchase

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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Virus fells Orpheum, shorts Avon

July 3rd, 2020

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While retailers, restaurants, and attractions had their operational restrictions eased again as of last Friday, June 26, allowing for more flexibility to serve customers in person, there is no guarantee we will see an end to the pandemic soon even if our state is in better shape than others. Both the coronavirus information page kept by the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District and an animated map embedded on the response page from the Illinois government show that Champaign County has weathered more virus activity than its neighboring counties by far. Why is it the case? Maybe, contagious folks go directly from Chicagoland to Champaign-Urbana more often than other downstate cities. Maybe, our neighbors are more diligent in being tested, thereby increasing the total number of diagnosed cases. Maybe, we will never have enough contact tracing performed to determine the answers. All I know is I plan to wear the damn mask in public for the common good, follow social distancing guidelines until national health officials say otherwise, and adhere to the adjustments made by any establishment I visit.

Opening back up or expanding services under “Restore Illinois Phase 4” is also no guarantee that all businesses will truly be back in business, including theatrical exhibitors. Skim last week’s Calendar and you will see the area’s drive-ins are feasting on catalog titles while indoor screens remain dark. An exception is the Roxy Cinemas in Ottawa, which is within driving distance of MFHQ Remote but too far away from the C-U for a night out. What will it even look like once we’re allowed back in? The News-Gazette gave us an idea when they shared the revised rules; “Movie Theaters and Performing arts” etiquette involves the expected modifications to keep patrons and workers safe including spaced-out ticket lines and seating, lower maximum capacity per show, no refillable food or drink containers, and staggered entry and exit. I wonder how much total effort will be put into maintaining this barometer, especially at a multiplex. Not helping consumer confidence, AMC Theaters recently let it slip they would allow mask wearing to slide before walking back the policy due to criticism from all corners.

The largest movie theater chain in the United States also keeps backpedaling on when they will reopen worldwide, recently resetting that date as July 30 due to various circumstances. Rapid-fire change is suddenly the norm. That makes it interesting, right? In a world where the studio juggernauts are actively leapfrogging over one another for future release dates to space their preordained hits once a sizeable amount of screens are available… In a world where a 27-year-old dinosaur blockbuster tops the box office charts again through drive-in play… In a world where a no-budget, 30-minute chiller filmed in socially distant conditions can be four-walled in a single traditional movie house and gross the highest amount in the country on its one-day run… anything is possible and nothing is completely predictable. Well, that’s not exactly true. What is predictable is the smaller houses in our communities are being forced to innovate as they struggle to float themselves in a downturn that keeps elongating due to coronavirus fears. It seems like what can go wrong will go wrong before anyone can right the ship.

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