The 20th edition of the Tribeca Film Festival, taking advantage of its timing as the city and film business emerges from the pandemic, will open June 9 with the world premiere of In the Heights.
Warner Bros’ adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning musical, which is directed by Jon Chu, will screen outside at various sites simultaneously, and indoors at the United Palace. The restored 1930 theater is in the Upper Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights, the setting for the film and also Miranda’s longtime home base.
There will also be outdoor screenings on opening night across all five of New York’s boroughs, a first for Tribeca, though the fest has long explored many parts of the city. In 2019, the fest opened with a documentary about Harlem’s Apollo Theater held at the Apollo itself. After shifting its usual April start back to June, the fest will be the first major one in North America since the onset of Covid-19 to have in-person screenings, though smaller regional events have returned to form.
Just two days after kicking off Tribeca, In the Heights will premiere theatrically across the U.S. as it also begins streaming on HBO Max. Each of the 2021 Warner Bros films ticketed for day-and-date release will stay on HBO Max for 31 days.
New York City movie theaters started to reopen in the first week of March with a 25% capacity limit imposed by state authorities. While commercial exhibitors are hoping that limit will be raised soon, even 25% should be workable in the United Palace, which seats more than 3,000.
“It is such an honor to open the 20th anniversary Tribeca Film Festival with In the Heights,” Miranda said in the official announcement. “We’re so excited to welcome them uptown! This will be an unforgettable night at the United Palace. We can’t wait to share this musical love letter to our community, with our community, in our community.”
The choice of venue was a natural one for a host of reasons. Warner Bros and The Miranda Family Fund have both been supporters of a repertory series of screenings of the studio’s classics at the United Palace, which was originally one of five Loew’s “Wonder Theatres” in the New York area.
Tribeca will soon announce the full slate for its 20th edition, which will run from June 9 to 20. The festival is the culmination of NY PopsUp, the statewide revitalization initiative to bring back live entertainment and the arts to the community.
“In the Heights is the quintessential New York story of hard-work, resilience, and triumph,” said Jane Rosenthal, the festival’s co-founder and CEO of its parent, Tribeca Enterprises. “We are proud to feature this film as Opening Night where it can debut in its hometown in celebration of its New York roots and the Latinx community.”
Paula Weinstein, chief content officer of Tribeca Enterprises, called the opening night “a gift to communities all over New York City.”
Quiara Alegría Hudes adapted the screenplay for In The Heights, with original songs and lyrics by Miranda. The cast includes Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace, Melissa Barrera, Olga Merediz, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Gregory Diaz IV, Stephanie Beatriz, Dascha Polanco, and Jimmy Smits. Miranda, Hudes, Scott Sanders, Anthony Bregman, and Mara Jacobs produce.
Plans are still being finalized for Tribeca’s lineup across film, video games, virtual reality, podcasts and other verticals. For its film program, the festival has affirmed it will have outdoor screenings throughout its 12 days at multiple sites. Specially equipped 40-foot screens are being used, which organizers say are the first mobile HD screens in the country.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with Tribeca for a city-wide takeover of In the Heights,” Chu said. “New York, and specifically Washington Heights, is the lead character in our film—its vibrancy and energy are unmatched. How incredible that after a year of isolation, New Yorkers from across all boroughs will have an opportunity to see it first, together, and join us in the celebration of life coming back.”
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