Exclusive: Jon M. Chu shares his feelings on the “In the Heights” delay
Yesterday, I had a chance to speak with Jon M. Chu about his involvement in the new AppleTV+ series Home Before Dark starring Brooklynn Prince and Jim Sturgess. My full interview for that series will be posted tomorrow but a few hours prior to our interview, the news broke that In the Heights was officially moved to the Summer of 2021.
As a hardcore musical fan, I was very much looking forward to seeing the film. I was lucky enough to see the musical on Broadway when Lin Manuel Miranda was starring in it way before he was known as the modern musical master. While In the Heights was screened for a few critics and test audiences before the whole Coronavirus hit, I was sadly not amongst the lucky few. That being said, I did hear great things from a few of those who did see it and I look forward to experiencing it for myself on the big screen when it opens in theaters on June 18, 2021.
While I normally focus mainly on the film or television series that the interview is centered around, I have spoken to Jon many times over the past few years and have been a big champion of his work as a filmmaker and storyteller. I was very much looking forward to In the Heights so given that the film was fresh on my mind, I had to talk to him a little bit about how he was feeling about the delay.
“You got me at just the right time because I haven’t talked to anybody out loud about it other than my tweets. So, my heart is broken. I wanted nothing more than to share this with the world as soon as we could. But the world isn’t the same that it was several weeks ago. And so, I knew this was coming. This is not something that we decided overnight. This is something we have been debating for many weeks now, not just how our story can get shown, but also when is the world going to be ready for a movie like this?
And then also the bigger picture of, should we be putting this movie at a time of uncertainty when we don’t know if it’s going to get its full legs that it needs to have in order to take off? We’ve been debating all these points with Lin, with our producers, and with our studio who has been nothing but supportive. I knew for a fact that I wanted this to be in the big theaters. This is a movie to be shared. This is a movie for the whole community to be together for, not separated, and so I’m actually really relieved that we at least have a focus of a date now and that it will be shown on the big screen the way it needs to be.
Of course, I’m broken that it’s going to take a year for all of us to be ready, but at the same time, we have our families to take care of, we have our community to get back on its legs. We have so much work to get back to a place where we can celebrate and hug each other again. And so, I’m all for giving time for us to do that before we get to really have the party of our lives in that theater together.”
I realize that it’s soul-crushing for you right now but, trust me, as I said to you many of the times that we’ve talked, I feel like with everything you do, you kind of up your game from one thing to the next. Doing a musical is something new for you, but musicals make people happy. I love musicals and I love that they make me and many others happy. I remember when The Greatest Showman opened and people went to see that movie over and over and over again in the movie theater and people went to go see Mamma Mia over and over again.
People love feeling good and that’s what these movies do. They make you feel good and I think it was smart on WB’s part to move it to summer so people can feel good and go see it multiple times.
“Especially at a time when we’re being tested, musicals, that’s what they’re there for, to show light at the end of that tunnel and just show how we all can come together and so I’m excited that we have something to focus on and the date that sort of clears the way so that it can have the proper runway that it deserves. This movie took like 10 to 12 years to make so the last thing I want to do is rush it out and then get it on streaming so everyone can have it as soon as possible.
Part of this experience is the experience. And so, I want everyone to go through that process. I also think it’s very important for a giant corporation like AT&T, to be spending tens of millions of dollars to promote these actors, to promote these stories of a bodega owner in Washington Heights. I think it’s important to tell people that this is important and you should leave your house when it’s safe and they deserve your time and your attention. And I think, more than just a movie, that’s the message that this story tells. And that is the bigger picture that when this is all said and done, that’s our job. That’s what we’re supposed to be doing. Of course, entertain, number one, but I think that all comes with it. So that’s what that time allows us to do.”
Thank you. Well, we’ll talk soon, I’m sure when that starts to drop.
Absolutely. Stay safe and take care of your family.
In the Heights opens in theaters next June