Gene Wilder's death this week has been a big blow to movie fans. He hadn't appeared on-screen for decades, but much of his filmography from when he was working includes a lot of classics we all watch regularly so it was like he never went anywhere. We'll still have those oft-revisited favorites, of course, and in fact this weekend we can see a couple of them on the big screen — again or maybe for the first time.
AMC Theatres is honoring Wilder's passing with screenings of the 1971 Roald Dahl adaptation Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (not to be confused with Tim Burton's remake) and Mel Brooks' politically incorrect Western Blazing Saddles in 55 of its locations. The shows are reportedly only $5 and are set for alternating times (5 p.m. for the more kid-friendly title and 7:30 p.m. for the other), so you can definitely make it a double feature if you like.
Check out a list of participating movie theaters via Mashable here, and then give them a call to see if they'll make exceptions for outside food so you can enjoy Wonka candies and, umm, beans, while watching their respectively appropriate movies. It also seems other theaters are showing Willy Wonka this weekend at a different cost and time, so take that into consideration when buying tickets.
Blazing Saddles has also already been on a screening tour with dates in major cities booked way before Wilder's death. Tonight, it's showing at NYC's Radio City Music Hall with Brooks attending for a special conversation afterwards. Tickets for that are a lot more than $5. Brooks has been talking about how he'd also like to show the movie to crowds who also have to view Some Like It Hot and the audiences' laughter will be measured to determine which movie is officially the funniest.
He recently told Vanity Fair about the idea to challenge Billy Wilder's film, which was named the funniest comedy of all time by the AFI:
"We do a laugh-off. At 6 o’clock they come in to see Some Like It Hot, and you take a 20-minute break, and at 8 o’clock they see Blazing Saddles. And you just measure the laughs. We have twice as many laughs, maybe three times as many. And bigger."
But competitive measurement isn't important, especially since humor and the laughter that it evokes is so subjective. Just go and enjoy, and remember Wilder fondly.