The summer of 1975 unleashed a never-before seen spectacle on the entertainment world that would forever change the experience of moviegoing. With the release of “Jaws,” a then-aspiring young director named Steven Spielberg rewrote the rules of movie making and launched the modern era of the Hollywood Blockbuster.
In that spirit, this year’s return of movies to the United Palace has heated up the cinematic season with a red-hot lineup of its own. Accompanying the epic screenings on the theatre’s 50-foot screen has been a klieg light-worthy series of events attended by many of the big screen’s greatest talents from both in front of and behind the lens.
March saw the return of Movies at the United Palace with titles selected by fan voting. The first film was the silver screen classic, “All About Eve,” starring Bette Davis which included a live post-screening discussion led by Lin-Manuel Miranda, accompanied by Broadway, TV, and movie stars Bebe Neuwirth and Laura Benante.
In April Hugh Jackman took time out from the Broadway revival of “The Music Man” to join Lin-Manual for a screening and conversation about “The Greatest Showman” and the making of musicals in today’s Hollywood. Hugh also managed to give us a little Wolverine for good measure.
With May’s arrival, it was time for some summer heat. What better picture to capture the real New York in the summer than Spike Lee’s seminal, “Do the Right Thing.” After the movie, the director shared stories from behind the scenes about discovering Rosie Perez, working with Public Enemy on the classic soundtrack, and noted that today’s young people watch movies on their phones the wrong way – it should be landscape not portrait!
In June, the Tribeca Festival returned for the second year to host its opening night with the world premiere of Jennifer Lopez’ “Halftime,” in which the global superstar reflects on her multifaceted career. Capping the event was a surprise live performance by Ms. Lopez’ daughter’s dance troupe on the theatre stage that brought tears to her eyes.
Later that week, Tribeca had two more special screenings. First was a newly restored digital print of “The Godfather” for its 50th anniversary followed by a discussion moderated by The New York Times best-selling author, Michael Hainey, featuring Tribeca Co-founder, Robert DeNiro (The Godfather, Part II), and the film’s star, Al Pacino. Before the panel, Mr. DeNiro noted, “Tonight, you’ll see a new restoration on the big screen in this beautiful theater. The moviegoing experience doesn’t get any better.”
(Note: A brief acknowledgement of the recent passing of James Caan, whose indelible portrayal of Sonny Corleone in “The Godfather” will never be forgotten.)
Next, Messrs. Pacino and DeNiro were joined live on stage by producer, Art Linson, for a pre-screening panel discussing the classic crime drama, “Heat,” moderated by journalist and filmmaker, Bilge Ebiri. Director Michael Mann appeared in a pre-recorded video.
Bringing it all full circle, in late June, we screened the 1981 blockbuster that kicked-off one of cinema’s most beloved adventure series, “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” directed by the most commercially successful director of all time, Steven Spielberg. Following the movie, Mr. Spielberg joined our friend and patron, Lin-Manuel Miranda, for a rousing and insightful talk-back about his career and the inspiration behind the making of so many of the world’s favorite movies. A true gentleman, Mr. Spielberg stuck around after the panel to sign autographs for fans lining the street outside after the show. We’d be remiss not to mention BBQ Films assisted with the pre-show event, using costumed actors, a vintage car, and a thousand rubber snakes to help transport guests to the movie’s fantasy world.
As the dog days of summer drag on, we are taking a brief hiatus in July and August, but have big plans for the remainder of the year. Planning for an Indian Summer of movies, this September 18 or 19, Movies at the United Palace returns with a screening of “Black Panther” (special guest to be announced) followed on October 16 by the final title of this year’s film series, “Coco.” And, there is still a super secret December screening in the works. Learn about it first in an upcoming e-blast.
Thank you to the Miranda Family Fund, with support from American Express, all our self-produced Movies at the United Palace screenings are FREE.
We can’t wait to have you all back in the theatre!