Within six months of their grand opening in the new Chauncey Building, FilmScene closed its doors in response to the pandemic. But after more than 14 months of private screenings, virtual screenings and Friday night concession pick-ups — and, last month, the debut of their outdoor cinema — the Iowa City nonprofit theater is ready to welcome moviegoers inside again.
Public screenings begin Friday at The Chauncey in Theaters 1 and 2. While the two spaces have a total 182 seats, FilmScene is opening them at 42 percent capacity to facilitate social distancing between groups. Face coverings are required when patrons are not seated, no matter their vaccination status.
The concession stand, restrooms and box office will be open as well. FilmScene encourages patrons to buy tickets online ahead of time to reduce lines and contact with employees.
Three films will debut on Friday for the reopening: Dead Pigs, a Chinese dramedy from Birds of Prey director Cathy Yan about a eclectic group of locals reacting to a pile of dead pigs floating down the Huangpu River towards Shanghai; Dream Horse, a family-friendly crowd-pleaser starring Toni Collette and based on the true story of a small-town UK bartender turned champion horse breeder; and A Quiet Place Part II, the much-anticipated sequel to John Krasinski’s directorial debut and breakthrough horror hit from 2018.
A Quiet Place — about a family struggling to survive on a remote farm surrounded by monsters with hypersensitive hearing that strike at the slightest sound — began as a spec script written by Davenport native Bryan Woods and friend Scott Beck while they were students at the University of Iowa.
Krasinski got his hands on the story in 2016 and began developing it in collaboration with Woods and Beck. Krasinski stars in the film alongside Emily Blunt, his real-life wife, and child actors Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe. Made on a relatively modest budget of $17 million, A Quiet Place went on to gross more than $340 million on top of critical acclaim, in particular for its original concept and use of silence and sound to create suspense. It was nominated for Best Sound Editing at the 2019 Academy Awards, and Woods, Beck and Kransinski’s screenplay was nominated for a slate of honors, including a Critics’ Choice Award, Satellite Award and Writers Guild of America Award.
Despite the success, Woods and Beck decided not to return as screenwriters for the film’s sequel, saying they’d rather focus on “original ideas” over franchises. (The pair wrote and directed the upcoming sci-fi thriller 65, starring Adam Driver and produced by Sam Raimi). Krasinski originally said the same, but soon decided to push forward with the sequel as its sole screenwriter and director. Early reviews for A Quiet Place Part II have been largely positive.
FilmScene’s Ped Mall cinema — where the first Quiet Place was shown in 2018 — will not host public screenings this summer. It will, however, host FilmScene’s summer animation camp, and undergo “comfort and presentation upgrades for a fall reopening,” according to the organization. Theater 3 in the FilmScene-Chauncey space will be reserved for private parties.
FilmScene’s full schedule and presale tickets can be found at icfilmscene.org.