‘Free Guy’ and ‘Respect’ open in theaters as COVID-19 concerns continue keeping some away


The Regal Cinemas movie theater welcomes back patrons to its theater in Bowie, Maryland, on May 24, 2021. – he US federal government is pushing out $350 billion in stimulus funding for states and localities to help them recover from the devastating hit inflicted by Covid-19.
The aid is part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that Congress approved in March, and will help recover the 1.3 million workers who still have not come back following the pandemic crisis, officials said. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (NewsNation Now) — A tribute to the Queen of Soul and a quirky video game-inspired movie are expected to reign supreme at the box office this weekend as movie theaters continue recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Free Guy” starring Ryan Reynolds takes place in the video game world, but with a twist.

“It’s an action, comedy, adventure kind of film. Its inspiration is ‘Back to the Future’ and movies like that,” said Reynolds.

“Free Guy” is the story of a bank teller who discovers he is a nameless background player in a hyper realistic video game. He decides to break out and forge his own path in a story that moves between the real world and the virtual world.

In a business dominated by sequels, spinoffs and franchises, Reynolds says “Free Guy” stands out.

“It’s become an increasingly rare unicorn in this industry where you get to make a movie that is based on nothing other than an original idea,” said the actor, who is also a producer on the film.

Meanwhile the highly anticipated “Respect” is paying its tribute to the late Aretha Franklin with it’s own twist on the genre it’s in, the Biopics

Franklin, who died in 2018 at age 76, handpicked Hudson, an Oscar winner for “Dreamgirls,” to play her in the biographical movie.

The new film, the second screen project this year to tell Franklin’s remarkable story, focuses on the challenges of her life from a child in her father’s gospel church choir through domestic violence and alcohol addiction as she finds worldwide fame.

Hudson, 39, who sang at Franklin’s funeral, said she felt the two had a lot in common.

“Our faith – that’s one. I didn’t realize she had the tragedies that she had in her life – that as well,” Hudson said. The film, she said, is “from the heart, and it’s a tribute to Miss Franklin, and I hope in the best possible way.”

Hudson had weekly phone calls with Franklin before her death, and the singer stressed that she wanted her faith to be the main theme of the movie.

“That was her base and premise, and that was the most important thing to me to remind everyone of and keep the context of throughout that process,” Hudson said.

Movie theaters are continuing to recover from losses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

DC Comics tentpole film “The Suicide Squad” opened to $26.5 million in the U.S. last week, $3.5 million under industry expectations. The underperforming box office was despite strong reviews and a cast filled with celebrities.

Another comic book film, “Black Widow,” dominated its opening weekend with $80 million in North American box office. Then it saw profits drop dramatically in the weekends following.

There’s already concern that the delta variant surge will keep audiences away from theaters. Some studios have already pulled their blockbuster films from release amid that concern.

Other films released this weekend will be “Don’t Breathe 2” and Chance the Rapper’s self-directed concert film “Magnificent Coloring World.”

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