Local 4 News has exclusive comments from filmmakers Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, who are opening a new downtown Davenport movie theater — The Last Picture House — at 2nd and Iowa streets, next to Half Nelson restaurant and across Iowa Street from Bechtel Park.
Beck, 37, and Woods, 38, are Bettendorf High and University of Iowa alums who are most famous for co-writing the 2018 huge horror hit, “A Quiet Place,” directed by and co-starring John Krasinksi. On a $17-million budget, it brought in $340.9 million at the box office, spawning a sequel (which Beck and Woods were not involved in), directed and written by Krasinski, producing $297 million in box-office receipts.
The planned Last Picture House (named after the Peter Bogdanovich classic “The Last Picture Show”) will transform a vacant building at 325 E. 2nd St., Davenport. On Friday, it won $600,000 in state funding (through Destination Iowa) to support the $3.72 million project, a two-screen theater with a rooftop bar to open by June 2023.
“We always dreamed of building a movie theater, a place where a community comes together for a shared experience,” Beck & Woods said in a Friday night email. “And over the years, we had the opportunity to visit cinemas in cities like Los Angeles or London, and Dublin, and we experienced the unique amenities, film programming, special events, and guests that they would bring in to really foster a first-class cinematic environment.
“And we thought, why can’t this exist in the Quad Cities? Why not bring a first-rate cinema to the area that isn’t just a place where you buy popcorn, see a movie, then leave, but instead you’re there to spend an entire night seeing a movie with the best sound and visual presentation possible, then listen to a celebrity guest do a Q&A, and follow that up by getting a cocktail in the social lounge or on the rooftop, and see a gallery of Hollywood movie props and artwork first-hand, all within the walls of a one-of-a-kind venue that you’d expect to see in a major city.”
The dream project has been years in the making, and the filmmakers said they’ve been fortunate to be joined by the team of Pete Stopulos, Jens Baker, and Christy Beck — “who all have varied backgrounds to help turn this creative endeavor into a business that isn’t just unique to the Quad Cities, but the state-wide region,” Beck & Woods wrote.
Adding to the growing downtown
“We love the downtown corridor and the explosion of businesses and art venues that have come before us,” they said of the booming East 2nd Street, also home to Urbane210 apartments, Raccoon Motel, Bootleg Hill Honey Meads, Ragged Records, Trash Can Annie’s, The Drawing Room cigar lounge, Mississippi River Distilling downtown lounge, Barrel House and Theo & Co.
“In any major city, the downtown corridor is the beating heart of the city, and Davenport has done a wonderful job to foster growth,” Beck & Woods said. “We would always drive past this old building and think it was a shame it sat untouched and underutilized for years, and it’s a dream come true to breathe new life into it and fill the walls with a community.
“The Quad Cities will always be our home – there’s nowhere else we’d like to build this project,” the Los Angeles-based pair said.
The Last Picture House will be home to first-run movies and independent films, exclusive events featuring actors alongside local filmmakers and film screenings. The space will also include a social lounge, cocktail bar, and a rooftop bar with another movie screen.
The stylish new destination will “blend mainstream, art-house, cult, and classic cinema programming with exclusive events that can only be found in entertainment meccas like Los Angeles, New York, or London,” Beck & Woods (whose partnership for the project is called Cinema Paradiso LLC). “It’s a cinema where you could see the latest Marvel movie, or the new film from Bong Joon-ho, or a Saturday-morning cartoon for families, or even a special premiere from a Hollywood filmmaker.
“The cinema will cater towards audiences of all ages and tastes. The Last Picture House will truly be the home for everyone,” they said.
The theater project will not include any significant demolition at the 8,700-square-foot building (last used in early 2019 as a Downtown Davenport Partnership garage), since “we want to preserve the structure and the original style of the Motor Row corridor,” Beck & Woods said.
“The design aesthetics of the building derive from European-style cinemas, maintaining the native architecture style of 325 East Second Street, while updating the space using modern colors, unique fixtures and film-inspired lighting design to provide a venue that feels timeless and cinematic,” they said.
The Last Picture House is expected to open between April and June 2023.
What’s next from the pair?
Next up for Beck & Woods’ own cinematic products is Sony Pictures’ sci-fi thriller “65” with Academy Award nominee Adam Driver starring, along with Ariana Greenblatt and Chloe Coleman. The film is an original screenplay written by the duo, which they also serve as directors and producers under their Beck/Woods banner. The project is a reunion for them and Sam Raimi, who is also a producer of “65.”
The only plot point released about the new film (expected in theaters March 2023) is that it’s about “an astronaut who crash lands on a mysterious planet discovers that he is not alone.”
Beck & Woods previously worked with Raimi on 50 States of Fright, the anthology series he was producing for the now-defunct streaming service Quibi. That show is now available to watch on The Roku Channel.
Also on deck for the pair is “The Boogeyman,” based on Stephen King’s iconic short story of the same name. They wrote the screenplay with Mark Heyman and director is Rob Savage, with the film to be distributed on Hulu in 2023.
Beck & Woods serve as executive producers on the film. The short story “The Boogeyman” was first published in the March 1973 issue of the magazine Cavalier, and later collected in King’s 1978 collection Night Shift. It follows a man who’s recently lost all his children to a creature lurking in the closet.
King himself gave his endorsement of “A Quiet Place,” tweeting that the film “is an extraordinary piece of work.”
“Ever since we were children, our nightmares have been fueled by the ‘King’ of horror,” Beck & Woods said in June 2018, about the plan to adapt Stephen King’s story. “Whether we were consuming ‘The Shining,’ ‘It,’ ‘Misery’ or countless other works by this master, our imagination has been captivated by his command of the genre.”
Past credits for the filmmakers include 2019’s acclaimed thriller “Haunt,” which they wrote and directed for producer Eli Roth, Sierra/Affinity, Broken Road Productions, and Nickel City Pictures. The film had its world premiere as the opening film at the Popcorn Frights Film Festival, then its international premiere at FrightFest in London.
“A Quiet Place” (which earned an Oscar nom for Best Sound Editing) was named as a Top Ten Film of 2018 by the American Film Institute and the National Board of Review. Beck & Woods’ script earned them the Saturn Award for Best Writing, alongside nominations from the Writers Guild and the Critics Choice Awards, and was named one of the year’s 10 best scripts by The Tracking Board Hit List.
Co-star Emily Blunt (Krasinski’s wife) won a Screen Actors Guild award, Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role, for “A Quiet Place,” in January 2019.