You might think since Regal declared bankruptcy and shuttered many of its theaters – and terminated its relationship with Coca-Cola even before that – it would mark the end for the nation’s most promising young sell-outs. Fortunately, there exists still a pocket universe where student filmmakers compete for the chance to cut their teeth on the bleeding edge of preshow commercials. This is canon.
But even this universe has trouble with the vagaries of entertainment economics and the fickleness of an uneducated public. Which is why these bold visionaries must work together to remind us of the joy of seeing a movie at Regal Theaters with a delicious popcorn and refreshing Coke – and Save the Movies!
EXT. REGAL CINEMAS THEATER PARKING LOT – NIGHT
The front marquee of the theater reflected in a puddle. A stylish stiletto heel splashes through the surface.
High angle on the owner of this shoe. She lowers the hood of her cloak – it’s A DIGITALLY DE-AGED KATHERINE HEIGL.
We come to this place… for magic.
INT. REGAL CINEMAS HALLWAY
Katherine stalks the empty hallway between theaters, ignoring the kiosk where she should have purchased her ticket. Maybe a ghost?
We come to laugh, to cry… to care.
INT. REGAL CINEMAS THEATRE
Katherine enters the theater and regards the big screen.
Because we need that. All of us. That
indescribable feeling we all get… when
the lights begin to dim.
Katherine watches in majestic awe as the screen is bathed with beloved films: Jersey Boys. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Charlie’s Angels (2019). Jersey Boys again.
Theaters offer us the chance to be truly
alive. A chance that some have been taking
She walks to the pulpit at the front of the theater.
You are here. But is that enough?
Reverse on THEATER-GOERS in their seats, squirming with guilt.
Still you clutch at your tribute! The cheap
seats at the front are sold out yet they are
empty. The handicap row is filled with liars!
The masses cry out. “Forgive me!” “Save us!” and so on.
Heed these shorts, true believers, and take
them into your heart before it’s too late…
for the movies.
She gestures to the big screen which begins to show our first parable.
INT. LIVING ROOM
An average house in the United States of America. MOM, DAD, and BALTHAZAR (age 8) prepare to leave.
(putting on hat)
Gertrude, it’s time to go to our neighborhood Regal Theater!
Come on, buttface! I don’t want to miss the previews!
GERTRUDE, a teenager and kind of done up like a tart, looks over from her lazy spot on the couch.
No thanks, the theater isn’t really my generation’s thing.
She goes back to looking at her phone. Dad can’t even. He exits. Mom looks really concerned.
Gerty, you’re just going to sit here and go viral?
Gertrude pops her bubblegum.
You’re not going to stream the movie, are you?
I don’t know what the kids at school say,
but the experience isn’t the same.
Gawd! Why can’t you just trust me?
Dad’s leaning on the horn in the driveway. Mom and Balthazar rush for the door.
What a buttface!
Mom knits her brow. She gazes back at her daughter and nods in agreement.
Gertrude swipes around on her phone as we hear the family car drive away outside.
CRASH! Someone comes through the window! It’s Jezebel, Gertrude’s friend from school.
What’s up, bitch?
Gertrude clutches her heart.
Jezzy! You really gave me a start.
You wanna stream that new movie?
I don’t know that we should. My Mom
and Dad said there are repercussions.
Aw, they just say that because they’re old
and like to sit in filth. It’s the same movie!
Rack focus from Gertrude’s tempted face to the TV.
It would be nice to keep up with the discourse…
Jezebel grabs the remote and starts the movie. It looks like a regular movie – studio fanfare, credits, etc. The girls are having fun!
But something’s wrong. The music warps and twists into ambient mayhem. The opening titles melt onto the floor.
The movie starts. But it only comes in staticky bursts. There’s a high-pitched ringing tone. You know the drill. Two glowing eyes open in the middle of the screen.
The demon pushes at the screen. The surface bends with the force of his clawed hands. He begins pounding at the screen, the only barrier betwixt him and human throats!
He’s getting out! Jezzy! What do we do?
Gertrude looks at Jezebel. Horror spreads across her face. JEZEBEL HAS BEEN LOOKING AT HER PHONE THE WHOLE TIME.
The Demon CACKLES. One more hit and he’s through the screen!
Gertrude panics but then, a memory.
Gertrude… open the theatrical window…
Of course! Gertrude runs to the family’s open copy of Pauline Kael’s I Lost it at the Movies. She takes a breath and reads aloud the incantation in the index.
The glowing theatrical window opens up in midair – a portal to another world. The Demon howls in agony as it’s sucked through the portal.
Gertrude picks up the TV and hurtles it through another kind of window-like portal – a window! Dad walks through the front door as we hear the TV crash outside.
Gertrude runs to her father. They embrace.
I’m sorry, Dad! I’m so sorry!
No, Gertrude, you did the exact right thing.
I don’t think we should even have a screen
in the house.
Yes we should!
Dad rounds on Gertrude, fury rising.
So we can look up showtimes!
Dad’s fury leaves. He chuckles and embraces Gertrude as the police arrive to take Jezebel away.
Katherine Heigl stands waist-deep in Coca-cola. She pulls a woman up from below the surface and finishes the baptism.
A timely cautionary tale. Movies give us
more. But perhaps you think more is
always a good thing?
The audience sits stone silent, terrified to respond.
Let’s roll film, shall we?
The screen comes alive again:
“The Monkey’s Paw: A Limited Series”
INT. REGAL MOVIE THEATER
JEFF and MATT grin ear-to-ear as they recline in comfortable Regal armchairs, popcorn and delicious Coca-Colas at their sides.
On the screen, two of our hottest stars approach each other as the sun sets behind them.
What an incredible sunset.
HOT STAR 2
What an incredible adventure.
The Hot Stars embrace and kiss. A TRIUMPHANT FANFARE finishes playing as the words THE END appear on the screen.
As per usual, the Regal crowd bursts into spontaneous applause. Jeff and Matt join in with gusto.
INT. REGAL MOVIE THEATER
Jeff and Matt have dinner at the classy Regal in-theater restaurant. Jeff eats chicken fingers while Matt tucks into some nachos.
That movie was so great!
I know, I wish it were longer.
Hey, what’s that?
Jeff, your chicken finger has fingers!
Jeff studies the odd shape. He knows Regal would never, never serve a gross-looking chicken finger. But this one is covered in fur and has a simian five-digit shape to it.
Jeff and Matt exchange an excited look. Just what they need! Jeff raises the monkey’s paw aloft.
I wish that great movie were longer!
INT. THE MOVIE
Hot Stars approach each other as before, but this time it’s cloudy.
Someday, we’ll get to see an amazing sunset.
HOT STAR 2
What an adventure that will be.
Jeff and Matt sit, watching. Both sport multiple days’ worth of facial hair growth. Both seem weak despite ample evidence of popcorn and Coke consumption.
I think… I think something’s about to happen.
He sits up, hopefully.
I just can’t get any closer, not after what I
went through ten years ago!
HOT STAR 2
Baby! Tell me aaaallll about it!
How many flashbacks is this? Fifty?
We hit fifty last month. Why don’t they kiss already?
I can’t take this anymore. You have to do it, Jeff.
Yes, it’s the only interesting course of action…
Jeff raises the monkey’s paw. Then lowers it.
The time has to be right.
No! Do it! Save us.
Jeff raises the monkey’s paw again. He lowers it.
If only we know more about where it came from.
Matt SCREAMS. His scream transitions into the unmistakable sound of…
EXT. THE 70s
Creedence Clearwater Revival plays. Nam rages somewhere else on the planet. A close-up on a hairy, intact paw very much attached to an arm. Its owner turns around and lowers his sunglasses. This is THE MONKEY.
The Monkey chitters into a cabana and sits at a table.
Across from him sits VLAD THE MACHETE-WIELDER
The fabled wish-granting Monkey. You play
a dangerous game, coming here. One day it
will cost you more than a few thousand pesos.
The Monkey, being a monkey, says nothing.
CUT TO BLACK. BEGIN WRITE-IN CAMPAIGN TO NETFLIX TO CONTINUE.
Katherine Heigl finishes giving a theatergoer the sacrament – a kernel of popcorn and a drink from the Coke Zero chalice.
Never forget the superiority of the format!
Never forget those who have given so much for it!
She gestures upward to MARTIN SCORSESE hanging on a cross.
As far back as I can remember I always wanted to be a martyr.
The consequences for forgetting are… dire.
Submitted for your approval: a world where
our greatest past time… isn’t!
Push in on the big screen. Next movie.
EXT. CITY SIDEWALK – DAY
Leonard runs down the street past a construction zone. He dodges around a guy smoothing cement but steps right in the middle of the wet sidewalk square.
Sorry! I don’t want to miss the previews!
The CONSTRUCTION WORKER looks up with a scowl.
Hurry yourself, lad! The world is made for such as you!
Leonard looks over his shoulder and gives a thumbs up, but when he turns back—
–he runs smack into the edge of a steel girder.
CUT TO BLACK
Leonard’s eyes open slowly. He looks around woozily at the gathered construction workers.
Are you all right? That whammed you
pretty good. You were out for the whole
solar flare and lightning storm!
Leonard brushes them away.
There’s still time–!
Shaky, he gets to his feet and continues running.
EXT. PARKING LOT
Leonard runs up to his gathered friends.
Whew! Sorry I’m late! Let’s get into the—
He looks up expecting to see the front of the theater – IT’S A BOWLING ALLEY.
Leonard searches, panic rising.
Where’s the Regal Theater?
What’s a Regal Theater?
Like The Globe? It’s in London.
No, one of the many members of the thriving
Regal Theater chain. You know, the best place
to see a movie with friends!
What’s a movie?
Leonard looks at his friends’ faces, trying to find some indication they’re joking.
CLOSE ON: Each friend’s face giving no indication they’re joking.
Oh God, I’m in a world with no movies?
Instead we’re going to a bowling alley?
No, silly, we’re going behind it. To get high!
You brought the paint, right?
It can’t be. It can’t BE!
Leonard runs away.
INT. CONVENIENCE STORE
Leonard dashes in and pleads with the cashier.
You there! Please tell me you have popcorn and Coke!
Cocaine and my father’s vegetables? Sir, that is a wild request.
Leonard’s memory is jogged.
My father! He was conceived in the back
row of a movie theater! Is he even still alive?
I have to find him!
How do I get to 1234 Oak Street?
The cashier puts down the bag of cocaine he was weighing and thinks.
Everything you say is a puzzle. You know
that side of town was destroyed.
He points to a rack of newspapers each with a large headline stretched across the top:
10TH ANNIVERSARY OF NUCLEAR WAR THIS AFTERNOON
Leonard is flabbergasted.
What is that weird paper thing?
He gasps anew as he notices a cardboard standee advertising Hitler brand bubblegum. And a sign that prohibits bad thoughts about the monarchy. And a cereal that comes with a free handgun. We could do this all day because everything is all kinds of fucked up!
EXT. STREET – DAY
Leonard runs out of the convenience store.
I have to make things right! I have to—
He is knocked down by a bus.
INT. REGAL THEATER
Leonard’s friends sit in their proper place – the front row of the Regal Theater with their popcorns and Coca-Colas, happy as all get-out.
What a great movie!
Just as good as Leonard said it would
be. Too bad he was killed by that bus.
Yeah, but you know something? Devastating
loss feels good in a place like this.
ON THE SCREEN – Katherine Heigl appears.
Yes! Feelings can only be substantiated by the movies!
She pulls the trio into the screen and begins exorcising their demons.
And only you have the power to save them, friends!
Will you pay twenty dollars for popcorn?
Will you pay an extra three for a fake iMax screen?
(emptying their pockets)
Katherine places her hands upon their heads, glorious projector light radiates from behind her.
Then bask in the blessing of the silver
screen and live again! Why do the moments
at the movies feel better, feel more fulfilling
and more substantial than the ones outside
a Regal Theater? It’s because…
She looks into the camera/your soul.