It took “Everything Everywhere All at Once” to get me to return to a theater. Actually, it took even more than that. 

I missed seeing the movie during its original release. I heard so many rave reviews from friends that had seen it. I wanted to go, if only to simply cure my fomo. But life got busy and I delayed and delayed till it was no longer in theaters. 7 Academy Awards later, I knew I missed out on something extraordinary. My fomo was no longer just a fear, it was a reality.

In my defense, like most of the world, I have become accustomed to watching movies online. The conveniences of watching a movie at home are numerous: you pick your own showtime, you eat whatever you want, you can press pause. Heck! You don’t even have to wear pants! 

A few weeks back, I read that The Athena Cinema was hosting a film series called Heroes In Color that was to feature 5 movie screenings over the course of five weeks. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” was the third film. Here was my chance. No mo’ fomo!

So at 7:10 PM on Thursday, February 15, 2024 I walked into the theater lobby. The scent of buttered popcorn and the sight of the ticket counter brought back a flood of memories from my movie watching past. It felt comfortable, like reuniting with a lifelong friend.

As I settled into the plush seat, the anticipation of the big screen experience enveloped me. What I did not anticipate was the extra added value that the “Heroes In Color” organizers brought to the experience. There was movie trivia, an educational introduction, raffle prizes, a themed cocktail and the theater staples — popcorn and candy. The introduction, in particular, briefed the audience on the movie’s themes and representation of people of color. It was edifying and informative without being a spoiler for those, like myself, who had yet to see the film.

The Athena Cinema website describes the film series in this way: “The Heroes In Color mission is to synergize education and entertainment, creating a unique experience for our community. At the heart of the film series lies a commitment to celebrate voices and stories of people of color that have traditionally been marginalized within popular culture. By showcasing a kaleidoscope of cinematic heroes who reflect the spectrum of human stories, backgrounds, and aspirations, we strive to redefine heroism, proving that anyone, regardless of their origin, can rise to greatness.”

The event creators, Brandon Thompson and Dr. Gordon Briggs, are truly a dynamic duo. They have long been friends and always shared an enthusiasm for sci fi and action films. 

“Gordon (Briggs) and I talk about movies a lot, about their impact and how important they are. We’ve wanted to show certain movies in the theater for a while,” Thompson shared. “We thought it would be really cool to come hang out and just show people of color in a different light. Because a lot of these movies we see, they’re not presented in a strong way.”

Brandon Thompson (left) and Dr. Gordon Briggs before the screening of “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” Curious about what Briggs is wearing? You’ll have to see the film to find out.

“We had talked about black sci fi, black action, and we were like, ‘You know what? What if we just show heroes?’ And we always had this short list…’” explained Thompson.

The duo faced challenges organizing and acquiring the rights to show the films they wanted. They emerged victorious with a stellar selection of five films for the series: “Black Panther,” “Blade,” “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” “Spiderman: Across the Spider-verse” and “The Last Dragon.” The Heroes In Color film series was born.

“I get emotional, when I think about it, said Briggs. “These movies, (some) I have watched alone my entire life, and then suddenly Ican watch them with a group of people. We laugh together and jump together.”

There is something intrinsically unifying about watching a movie in a crowded theater. During “Everything Everywhere All at Once” I felt a part of something bigger. I laughed. I cried. My emotions felt amplified by those sitting in the theater with me. The affirmation of it all was something that I had missed these past years of quarantined movie watching at home. 

“It is a unique experience that we’re offering,” explained Briggs. “The biggest challenge is trying to convince people that this is more than just a commercial enterprise. It’s a communal enterprise.”

There are only two movies left to go, and I encourage you to join forces with your fellow movie lovers at this uniquely Athens’ experience celebrating “Heroes In Color.” I’ll see you there!


Seating and pre-show activities at 7:00 p.m., film start time 7:30 p.m.

Joel Prince
Author: Joel Prince

Creative Director, Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau