in the heights in theaters

It’s been roughly 15 months since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit and we were last able to see movies safely in theaters. Some moviegoers have already started braving the cinemas in recent months to get that long-missed big-screen screen experience. But others have reasonably been cautious about going to the movie theater, either because of crowds or lack of vaccinations.

But both In the Heights director Jon M. Chu and screenwriter Quiara Alegría Hudes want to tell moviegoers that their new musical movie will be worth the trip to the theater.

in the heights opening

“It will heal you. I promise.”

In an interview with /Film’s Jacob Hall, director Jon M. Chu urged audiences to see In the Heights in theaters. And it’s more than just to promote his own movie (though there’s plenty of that as well). It’s because In the Heights is just the kind of healing experience we all need as we emerge from the isolation of the pandemic. Chu said:

I know it’s a hard time. And I know that some people don’t feel comfortable. So I’m glad that if you don’t, you have an option to see it. However, you better sit close to that screen and turn that fucking volume up. But two, get vaccinated! Go to the theater! This community deserves your time, deserves your money, and deserves your attention. At this moment, they will guide you out of the darkness. Because they’ve been feeling powerless and are able to survive and get past things because of each other and the community, and you will see that. You will see it in your own life, with your community. You will realize, after a year of isolation, how much we need that community back. It will heal you. I promise you. You will feel joy. I know it’s hard to feel joy these days. But I know we’re feeling inklings of positivity. This will invite you back, and in the biggest way possible, bring you back to your childhood. And your kids will be reminded about why we go to the movies. I think this is a moment we have to experience in person and see it with people.

Screenwriter Quiara Alegría Hudes got to see the movie several times in the theater with an audience, and said the experience outstrips the at-home experience in every way.

“I got to see it in Chicago with a largely Puerto Rican audience, and it was so fun hearing where they gasped. Mostly it was the food close-ups and when Marc Anthony appeared on screen,” Hudes said. “Then I also saw it with a general audience, which was the original Broadway cast, which is a more diverse crowd and for us, it was emotional knowing that decades of our lives have gone into creating this thing that’s now a major motion picture.”

In the Heights movie

How Does Seeing In the Heights in Theaters Differ From Seeing It on Broadway?

Maybe you’re one of the lucky few who got to see In the Heights on the stage, either during its many tours, its 2007 Off-Broadway run, or when it hit the Great White Way in 2008. As the writer of both versions, Hudes has seen both the movie and the stage musical in a theater many times, and emphasized the difference:

“I think it’s a looser vibe in a movie theater. Well, maybe it’s just right now in 2021, it’s really novel to be in a room with people again. We have forgotten how to do that. But the vibe was really loose at both of the screenings I went to, and people were vocalizing much more than I think is accepted in a Broadway audience. In a Broadway audience, people paid a lot of money, and everyone is [shushing]. It can be a little like, ‘Calm down, everyone’ for me sometimes. But people were dancing at some of the screenings I went to. People stood up and danced, or danced in their seats. It was awesome to see that.”

One thing you won’t be able to see in a Broadway audience: the audience dancing. And waving the flags of their Latin American countries. Yes, people brought flags to the screening Hudes attended.

“There’s this song called ‘Carnaval del Barrio,” and we were really careful to try to get every flag in there that relates to Latinidad, Latin America,” Hudes said. “We had to pore over those shots over and over and over again to make sure. I could hear in the audience that if people saw their flag, they’d exclaim. That is so cool, I love that.”

In the Heights hits theaters and HBO Max on June 11, 2021.

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