First off, the crowds for "Arrival" at the Bijou have been outstanding, way above the national average! So I'm holding it over one final week. DON'T MISS IT! SEE IT AGAIN!
But regarding the award-winning and stellar film, "Loving", at the State Theatre, it's doing ok. Everyone comes out after each screening telling me how wonderful it is, how moved they were, thanking me and the others here for bringing movies like this to Traverse City.
But here's the rub. We're barely breaking even on some nights with it. And this fits a pattern that has confounded me -- and saddened me -- over the past year: Whenever we show a movie whose main characters are African American or when the movie is directed by a black director, attendance drops.
Now I know people get uncomfortable talking about race or looking at things through a racial lens. Well, I should say white people get uncomfortable. Black people don't seem uncomfortable about the discussion -- they already live their lives with the "discomfort" of bigotry, racial slurs, housing discrimination, and police harassment. "One bad apple" cop flying a Confederate flag on his vehicle reflects on all of us.
Is the City of Traverse City up here an oasis, an outpost, or a beacon of light? Is it becoming a playground for those with nice incomes while the working people can no longer afford to live here? Do we expose our youth to other cultures, other peoples? Or is it best to keep them sheltered -- only to eventually find themselves suffocated by the sameness and wanting to get out, and not return. Do we benefit from that?
The box office doesn't lie. People here generally don't come to black films. And that's not the kind of place where I want to live. Except, I'm not leaving. So we have a problem. What to do?
Well, here's what I'm going to do this week. I'm going to hold over this brilliant, tender love story of true grit that has been hailed as one of the best films of the year. It's the story of a white man who marries a black woman -- which meant, they were breaking the law. Because the law in large parts of the USA used to be that you would be thrown in jail if you "mixed the races." Just like the law said black people had to sit at the back of the bus. Just like the law today still says it does not matter who got the most votes nationwide. You just have to accept it -- that's THE LAW.
The movie is called "Loving". Come see it. You'll love it. If you don't, I'll give you your money back. How's that for a deal? Pop and popcorn, as always, still $2.
See you at the movies!