Greetings again, adventurous film lovers. It’s time for your weekly preview of all the notable “alternative” cinema attractions taking place over the next seven days in the greater Savannah area.

Bored with the couple of handfuls of pabulum that’s routinely on tap at our corporate multiplexes? Then take a gander at this bumper crop of special screenings. There’s everything from recent, family-friendly blockbusters to bona fide cult classics from the U.S. and Japan, and at least a couple of high-def digitally streamed stage events. As always, admission prices to all Film Scene listings are in the accompanying sidebar.

 

Heroes in many forms

Let’s start at the beach, where the historic Tybee Post Theater is offering four popular features for special engagements. First up is last year’s female-driven action smash “Wonder Woman,” which, at a worldwide box office total to date of more than $800 million, is the sixth highest grossing superhero movie of all time. It screens June 14.

 

Five days later, on June 19, they’ll show 2017’s “Despicable Me 3,” which stands as the fourth-highest grossing animated film ever made, and features the vocal talents of Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig and “South Park’s” Trey Parker. That’s followed the next day, June 20, by the highly successful CGI animated flick “Peter Rabbit,” which just hit theaters a few months back. It stars actor and late-night TV talk show host James Corden as the voice of Peter himself, and as you might imagine was based on the classic series of children’s stories written at the start of the 20th century by famed British author and conservationist Beatrix Potter.

 

And finally, on June 21, the Post offers folks one more chance to catch 2017’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” on the big screen. Directed by Rian Johnson (whose prior films include “Brick” and the JCVD-enraging “Looper”), it’s the eighth installment in the main “Star Wars” franchise, and wound up as the top-grossing film of 2017, with almost $1.5 billion in ticket sales. That’s billion with a “b.” This and all the above films at the Post will be shown twice on their respective days, at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

 

Variety at Mars

In Springfield, the restored Mars Theatre is offering its own selection of mainstream titles, including 1978’s beloved film adaptation of the 1950s-themed stage musical “Grease” at 7 p.m. on both June 14 and 15 (in honor of the pop-culture touchstone’s 40th anniversary). June 19 finds this single-screen venue presenting the sly 2017 CGI comedy “The Boss Baby” (starring the voices of Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi and Lisa Kudrow) at both 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. as part of its “Two for Tuesdays” series of kid-oriented picture.

 

And then, on June 21, the Mars begins an extended run of “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” the soon-to-be-released sequel to 2015’s dinosaurs-run-amuck popcorn flick “Jurassic World.” Starring Chris Pratt, Jeff Goldblum and B.D. Wong (!), it’s the fifth entry into the “Jurassic Park” franchise and is poised to be one of the biggest financial successes of the year. It screens at 7 p.m. each Thursday, Friday and Saturday of that weekend and the next.

 

‘Space Mutiny' and more

Moving out to the Regal Stadium 10 behind the Savannah Mall, Fathom Events presents four extremely different digital programs over the next few days. At 8 p.m. June 14, the RiffTrax crew (made up of stand-up comics and comedic writers and actors associated with the pioneering, geek-tastic movie parody TV series “Mystery Science Theater 3000”) pokes fun at one of the most notoriously terrible low-budget duds ever made, the 1988 South African sci-fi abomination “Space Mutiny.” Rarely seen in public, this embarrassing flop will be “enhanced” by an irreverent audio commentary track by the RiffTrax folks, pointing out the flaws in the film and played in tandem with the movie itself. Showtime 8 p.m.

 

A few nights later, Fathom presents the latest installment of its ongoing series known as Studio Ghibli Fest, which consists of classic Japanese features from the award-winning animated film studio of the same name responsible for such inventive, mesmerizing, hand-drawn motion pictures as “Princess Mononoke” and “Spirited Away.” Many of their films, while extremely popular worldwide on home video, have rarely if ever been seen on the big screen in U.S. cinemas, so this is indeed a rare opportunity to witness these films as their creators intended.

On June 17, 18 and 20, the controversial 1994 anime “Pom Poko” will be shown. The film, whose title translates roughly to “The Raccoon War,” is a decidedly bizarre but humor-filled ecological fable about a quiet wooded area of Japan that is threatened by greedy commercial and residential developers. This puts the inhabitants of the forest at great risk, and so these “raccoon dogs” master the ancient magical art of shape-shifting so they can impersonate humans in hopes of thwarting the destruction of their natural habitat.  The 12:55 p.m. show on June 17 and the 7 p.m. show on June 20 will be shown in spoken English, while the 7 p.m. show on June 18 will be in the original spoken Japanese with English subtitles.

 

Then, on June 20, the Regal presents an encore offering from the Metropolitan Opera’s popular series of high-def-filmed stage performances. It’s a previously recorded document of Puccini’s 1904 tale of betrayal and adultery, “Madama Butterfly,” starring the acclaimed soprano Kristine Opolais as the doomed Madame herself. This stunning version was first produced in 2006 by Oscar-winning British stage and film director Anthony Minghella (“The English Patient”), and runs nearly three hours. Showtime is 7 p.m., in spoken Italian, with English subtitles. By the way, both this program and “Pom Poko” are also showing at the same times in nearby Bluffton, S.C., at the Cinemark multiplex.

 

Drum march mesmerizes

If you’re into loud, complex, musical percussion (and who isn’t?), the next night, June 21 at the Regal only, Fathom Events will digitally stream a live simulcast of the opening night of the 2018 Drum Corps International Tour. This is your chance to see the top junior marching drum and bugle corps in the U.S. and Canada go head to head in intense competition. It’s bound to be a mesmerizing display of athletic, polyrhythmic prowess. Showtime 8:30 p.m.

 

Thriller uncut

Heading downtown, I’m excited to announce that on June 16, SCAD’s Cinema Circle series at Trustees Theater kicks off four special one-night-only presentations over the next few weeks, each of which focuses on the notion of a “zombie apocalypse.” The first in this quartet of frightening (and, at times, quite humorous) flicks is a real coup. It’s an incredibly rare public screening of the late, great writer-director George A. Romero’s epic 1978 cult classic, “Dawn of the Dead.”

 

The second Romero film to focus on the slow takeover of the world by recently deceased, re-animated flesh-eating humans (the first being the landmark 1968 B&W sensation “Night of the Living Dead”), “Dawn” was shot on a miniscule $1.5 million budget in a suburb of Romero’s hometown of Pittsburgh. The cast was mostly unknown regional stage actors possessing little, if any, film experience. Made and released independently (as no movie studio would agree to finance or promote such a relentlessly gruesome film, which also served as a blistering indictment of American consumer culture and greed), it ultimately grossed more than $50 million worldwide.

However, its greatest achievement is in the supreme influence it immediately had, and continues to have, on the way the horror genre is presented in cinema, television and print. Simply put, without “Dawn of the Dead,” “The Walking Dead” comics and TV series could not exist (as there is a direct through line between the works), nor would countless other books, graphic novels, feature films and TV shows around the world. “Dawn” functions as a standalone picture in the sense that one need not have already seen “Night” in order to understand and appreciate this sequel.

Trustees will show the full, uncut and unrated widescreen edit of the film Romero himself preferred, and which has been out of print for years on Blu-Ray (used copies of which now routinely cost more than $125). Yours truly will host the screening, introducing the film and leading a post-show audience discussion on the making of the movie and its enduring legacy. This is likely the most challenging and graphic motion picture ever included in the Cinema Circle series, and I sincerely hope all adventurous movie enthusiasts will make plans to attend — even if they don’t generally consider themselves fans of the horror genre. Showtime 7 p.m.

Will Ferrell Wednesdays

A few nights later on June 20, the Lucas Theatre kicks off a new feature known as Will Ferrell Wednesdays. Once a month from June through August, they’ll show a different well-liked comedy starring the former "SNL" standout. That night, it’s the fan favorite “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” co-starring Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell and Fred “Fernwood 2 Night” Willard. This relentlessly silly parody of tacky 1970s local TV news teams and the blatant, pervasive chauvinism of that time period has held up well since its 2004 theatrical release, and has become a fixture on cable. However, many folks, especially younger viewers, have never had the opportunity to see it uncensored, in a public setting. Showtime 7 p.m.

 

Peter Falk tribute

And finally, that same night at The Sentient Bean, the Psychotronic Film Society’s award-winning weekly series of underappreciated titles from around the world continues with a special memorial tribute to the beloved actor Peter “Columbo” Falk, almost seven years to the day since his death at the age of 83. In his honor, they’ll screen a forgotten gem: the 1996 made-for-TV adaptation of playwright Neil Simon’s Broadway play “The Sunshine Boys.”

 

Based on real-life characters, this fictionalized tale of a once-popular comedy duo who have aged into bitter, spiteful enemies made it to the big screen in 1975, in an Oscar-winning feature film starring legendary comedic actors George Burns and Walter Matthau as the feuding ex-partners. Those roles are handled ably in this production by Falk and Woody Allen, respectively. Simon wrote the script for this TV version himself, updating his original play to better suit these two masterful actors, and this is the only time that updated version has been performed, which makes it quite unique.

Also worth noting is that this is one of very few projects in which Allen has starred, but which he did not also write and/or direct. It features Sarah Jessica Parker, “Better Call Saul’s” Michael McKean and Liev Schreiber in supporting roles, and has not been widely seen since its original broadcast. Showtime 8 p.m., with discounts on craft beer and organic wine during the show.

Until next issue, see you at the movies, be kind to those around you and don’t forget to turn off that cell phone.

Jim Reed directs the Psychotronic Film Society of Savannah.

 

IF YOU GO

What: “Wonder Woman”

When: 3 p.m. & 7 p.m. June 14, July 5

Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.

Cost: $5-$7

Info: tybeeposttheater.org

 

What: “Grease”

When: 7 p.m. June 14-15

Where: Mars Theatre, Springfield

Cost: $7

Info: marstheatre.com

 

What: “RiffTrax Live: Space Mutiny”

When: 8 p.m. June 14, 7:30 p.m. June 19

Where: Regal Stadium 10, 1132 Shawnee Ave.; Cinemark, Bluffton

Cost: $13.38

Info: fathomevents.com

 

What: “The Boss Baby”

When: 10 a.m. & 2 p.m. June 19

Where: Mars Theatre, Springfield

Cost: $2

Info: marstheatre.com

 

What: “Dawn of the Dead (1978)”

When: 7 p.m., June 16

Where: Trustees Theater, 213 E. Broughton St.

Cost: $5-$8, free w/SCAD ID

Info: trusteestheater.com

 

What: “Studio Ghibli Fest: Pom Poko”

When: 12:55 p.m. June 17; 7 p.m. June 18 & 20

Where: Regal Stadium 10, 1132 Shawnee Ave.; Cinemark, Bluffton

Cost: $13.38

Info: fathomevents.com

 

What: “Despicable Me 3”

When: 3 p.m. & 7 p.m. June 19, 26, July 10

Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.

Cost: $5-$7

Info: tybeeposttheater.org

 

What: “Peter Rabbit”

When: 3 p.m. & 7 p.m. June 20, 27, July 11

Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.

Cost: $5-$7

Info: tybeeposttheater.org

 

What: “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”

When: 7 p.m. June 20

Where: Lucas Theatre, 32 Abercorn St.

Cost: $5-$8, $2 SCAD card holders

Info: lucastheatre.com

 

What: “The Met: Live in HD - Madama Butterfly”

When: 7 p.m. June 20 both locations; 1 p.m. June 20 Bluffton

Where: Regal Stadium 10, 1132 Shawnee Ave.; Cinemark, Bluffton

Cost: $13.38

Info: fathomevents.com

 

What: “The Sunshine Boys”

When: 8 p.m. June 20

Where: The Sentient Bean, 13 E. Park Ave.

Cost: $8

Info: instagram.com/pfssav

 

What: “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

When: 3 p.m. & 7 p.m. June 21, 28

Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.

Cost: $5 - $7

Info: tybeeposttheater.org

 

What: “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”

When: 7 p.m. June 21-23, 28-30

Where: Mars Theatre, Springfield

Cost: $7

Info: marstheatre.com

 

What: “2018 Drum Corps Intl. Tour Premiere”

When: 8:30 p.m. June 21

Where: Regal Stadium 10, 1132 Shawnee Ave.

Cost: $16.05

Info: fathomevents.com