Writer gets ‘red carpet’ treatment at area theater

Danny Kravitz, who co-wrote the script for the movie “The Marksman,” gets the red carpet treatment as he is accompanied by Tamara for a private showing at the Geneva Theater recently. Kravitz, who lives in Chicago, was unable to see the movie there because theaters are closed.

Chicago native can’t see his own movie, reaches out for private showing

By Mike Ramczyk


With the ever-changing landscape at area movie theaters due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fewer and fewer people are going to movies as part of date night or really for any reason.

Many are afraid of large crowds, and some don’t want to wear a mask indoors.

But some movie lovers still have that itch to get out and see a movie on the big screen.

Marie Frederick, events coordinator for Plaza Theater in Burlington and Geneva Theater in Lake Geneva, said private showings of movies are becoming much more popular, since people aren’t coming back to the theaters “at a rate we’d like to see.”

A recent request made the hair rise on the back of Frederick’s neck.

It started out like any other email, as Danny Kravitz requested a rental or private party.

Frederick followed up with a phone call, and she quickly learned Kravitz wasn’t just your average moviegoer.

Kravitz was interested in seeing “The Marksman,” a new movie starring Liam Neeson that came out recently.

“He said, ‘I’m the writer and I haven’t seen it. The theaters aren’t open where I live and I have to see my movie when it opens … somehow,’” Frederick said.

Kravitz, who lives in Chicago, is a co-writer of “The Marksman,” which debuted at No. 1 at the box office.

Due to coronavirus restrictions, there wasn’t even one theater in the Chicago area that would give Kravitz a private showing, so he first asked Frederick to bring an inflatable theater down to Chicago.

She offered that renting out the upstairs screen of the Geneva Theater would be much cheaper, and Frederick and owner Shad Branen literally rolled out the red carpet.

“It was a such a funny phone call,” Frederick said of Kravitz’s request. “They were very concerned about COVID. In the first email, he didn’t say he was the writer. Private parties have become a good revenue stream for us.”

Two weeks ago, Kravitz and friends were treated to “our finest, cheap champagne,” Frederick joked, to go with the pomp and circumstance of old chrome posts called stanchions, velvet ropes, red carpets and a movie poster of “The Marksman” next to the balcony theater entrance.

Frederick said there was an older couple seeing “The Marksman” in another theater, and they left the movie and told the manager, “That’s a nice movie, you’ve got to see that.”

That was all the approval Kravitz needed.

From wedding anniversaries to people not wanting to go out in crowds, private parties have been a new thing for Branen’s theaters.

“We have never had someone on a national scale like that,” Branen said about Kravitz. “Hollywood has been the biggest challenge, as most movie releases are getting delayed.”

Branen said they are limiting theater hours to Tuesdays and weekends.

He said masks are required in the lobby area, but, despite that, some people just don’t feel comfortable being at theaters.

He added that interest in going out to theaters is gradually increasing, as many people ask if it will be packed.

“Both theaters enhanced cleaning, and there’s limited capacity. There is seating in every other row,” Branen added.

But attendance is still not even close to the limited capacity mark.

Frederick is hoping private parties and showings continue to gain popularity.

She said one Illinois woman is planning to surprise her husband with a private showing on Valentine’s Day of their wedding video.

The couple got married last Valentine’s Day and was on their honeymoon when the country shut down.

In the past year, they’ve stayed indoors and haven’t really gone anywhere for a date night. It will be their first time out since returning to Illinois during the pandemic.

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