The Movies are Back For Good

Don’t let them go away again

Well, would you look at that? ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings‘ earned a Labor Day weekend record at the box office. It made more than $90 million. The Marvel Cinematic Universe brand is clearly the world’s biggest draw. ‘Shang-Chi’ is also a movie with an almost-all-Asian cast. Asian-Americans, after a difficult year of bigotry and violence, clearly embraced their new hero. This cultural phenomenon has been gestating for years. But the most important thing is that the movies are back. 

Signs had been pointing that way anyway. The Ryan Reynolds comedy action flick ‘Free Guy’ earned well, and so did Nia Da Costa’s ‘Candyman‘ reboot. After a few weeks where Americans simpered about the Delta variant of COVID-19, this is the weekend they really decided to go back to the movies. And to go back to life in general. The joyous crowds at this weekend’s college football games extended a middle finger in the direction of lockdown proponents and fear peddlers everywhere. In a more quiet way, moviegoers did the same thing, one $10 to $17.50 ticket at a time.

For all the horror and illness that COVID-19 has wrought, the worst thing has been what it’s done to the vast, vast majority of people who either never got sick or got a little sick or got really sick and then recovered. They told us we couldn’t gather, that we couldn’t see our friends and our family, that we had to hide our children and ourselves away until the virus passed. But clearly, the virus isn’t going to pass. And most people, most Americans, at least, aren’t interested in hiding anymore.

The fact is, it’s basically safe to go to the movies. It’s always been safe to go the movies. If you want to go, then go! We live in the most prosperous and decadent culture in human history, with the most potent entertainment industry ever devised. If you like horror, action, romances, superhero movies, little indie movies about a grief-stricken chef and his prized truffle pig–anything but comedies, really, because most comedies are bad now–the movies are still there, waiting for you. Don’t be afraid, you’ll be fine. Keep going to the movies. I won’t be in the theater myself. Now that movies are back, I’ll revert to seeing then at the 2 PM Tuesday showing when theaters are empty. That’s not because I’m afraid of COVID, but because seeing movies in big crowds is usually annoying.

But crowds should turn out, huge ones. People can wear masks or not. I don’t actually care. Movies have returned. Don’t tell me they don’t matter, because they do, they matter enormously. Life must go on, and life includes the movies. Go see them, all of them. Stay home if you want, but not because anyone tells you that you should. Those days have ended. Let’s never shut down the movies, or anything else, ever again.

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Neal Pollack

Book and Film Globe Editor in Chief Neal Pollack is the author of 11 semi-bestselling books of fiction and nonfiction, including the memoirs Alternadad and Stretch, the novels Repeat and Downward-Facing Death, and the cult classic The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature. A Rotten Tomatoes certified reviewer for both film and television, Neal has written articles and humor for every English-language publication except The New Yorker. Neal lives in Austin, Texas, and is a three-time Jeopardy! champion.

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