Remember “going to the movies”? It’s one pre-pandemic pleasure that has been nearly impossible to recreate — unlike, say, dining out — even as the state’s safety restrictions have eased.
Sure, drive-ins have allowed us to watch movies on the big screen. The 70-year-old Ford-Wyoming Drive-In in Dearborn even ranked as the top-grossing theater in the country for a time in June. But that’s no substitute for slipping into a cushy chair in a darkened theater, surrounded by fellow cinephiles and the scent of buttered popcorn as a projector casts characters from behind us like images in a dream.
It may be a while before we get to enjoy that experience again. In the meantime, local, independent cinemas specializing in artsy, indie, and foreign films have leaned into virtual screenings to keep movie lovers occupied. Here’s what two are doing until they can welcome patrons in person once again.
As a nonprofit, Cinema Detroit is metro Detroit’s “only truly independent theater,” curating seven-day-a-week screenings of contemporary, indie, cult, genre, and classic films. The building in Midtown is the former Weber Furniture Store, and it proudly carries Faygo among its concessions. It’s now offering ticketed, virtual screenings through its website, showing titles that have included John Lewis: Good Trouble, a 2020 documentary about the late congressman and civil rights legend. It has also hosted well-received drive-in screenings of the Prince classic Purple Rain at the city’s former Herman Kiefer Health Complex.
View Cinema Detroit’s lineup of films at cinemadetroit.org.
The Film Lab
Hamtramck’s microcinema and craft cocktail bar is situated in an old Polish Legion of American Veterans building and still retains the original 1920s marble bar. It’s not your typical red-cushion-seat theater, but rather a wood-paneled cocktail lounge with tables and chairs for seating. It has also recently provided virtual screenings through its website and will be hosting a virtual edition of its fourth annual Cine Mexico Now Film Festival — a celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 through Oct. 15) and Mexican Independence Day (Sept. 16). The cinema has also been having Summer on the Patio screenings, featuring such films as Pan’s Labyrinth and The Thing.
View The Film Lab’s lineup of films at thefilmlab.org.