With the Oscars (mercifully) behind us, it’s time to start worrying again about the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. That much-postponed institution is now scheduled to open with a gilt-edged gala honoring Sophia Loren and Haile Gerima, and sponsored by Rolex, on September 25, with a public opening five days later.
So here’s an idea the museum’s keepers can have for the price of a Wolfgang Puck sushi cone: Let the fans in first.
After years of delay, the film Academy’s museum should actually arrive at a fortuitous moment, just as the lockdown-weary audience is getting comfortable with theaters again. Last weekend’s strong box office performance points toward normalization. Barring a Covid-surge, all four quadrants should be back in the ticket line by September.
What better time to celebrate? The Movies Are Back!
And where better to do that than at a shiny new film museum, smack in the middle of Los Angeles?
Open with an indoor-outdoor event, a no-charge People’s Premiere that is genuinely, to use a current catch-phrase, “inclusive.” No studio walls. No velvet ropes. Reverse Hollywood history by inviting people in, not shutting them out.
There’s lots of space on the dirt patches, grassy knolls and cement patios that surround the adjoining Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Use it all.
I imagine free food. Not the expensive kind, but interesting snacks, probably served by those high-line caterers that turn film shoots into a moveable feast. Sponsors might help. Media-types, always quick to the buffet line, will bring lots of publicity and good will.
As for outdoor attractions, the possibilities are endless. Personally, I would favor folksier displays that catch the fun, rebel spirit, and raw exuberance of movies, which are, after all, the People’s Art.
Have some crazy stuff. Find one of those wacky rocket-launching dune buggies from Hal Needham’s Megaforce, the ones producer Al Ruddy described at a Governors Ball tribute as having gotten him thrown out of Paramount for blowing things up. Re-inflate the Arnold Schwarzenegger stand-up that deflated during a Westwood premiere for Last Action Hero. Get stars to sign autographs—hey, baseball players do it.
The indoor program might be a little trickier, given the museum’s apparent bent toward uplift, significance and global reach. Crowds may or may not be fascinated by a review of racial and gender stereotyping or the work of Hayao Miyazaki or stories of women Breaking the Oscars Ceiling. But there will be plenty of costumes and creatures to view. And there’s still time to stock the gift shop with Eddie Murphy Mumford shirts from Beverly Hills Cop or louche talking teddy bears from Ted.
Anything to get people, lots of them, excited.
Once having let the fans in, take a day, clean up, and let the exclusive set have their gala. The audience will already have gotten the message: At the movie museum, and in theaters, they come first.