SCREEN TIME: End of an era?

‘Walking Dead,’ ‘Stranger Things,’” and ‘Atlanta’ will all wind down in 2022

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Photo credit: Courtesy of AMC Networks

A major part of Atlanta culture was defined in the past decade by the massive influx of television and film production to Georgia. Some significant chapters in this volume of local history are scheduled to close in 2022.

One of the first major events of the Y’allywood era began in October of 2010 with “The Walking Dead.” AMC’s zombie show was a sensation on its debut and has been a steady local employer, even as it lost its buzz ages ago. It’s currently airing its 11th and final season, with the final episodes expected to air later this year, although at least one spin-off is tapped for 2023. It may never die…

While “The Walking Dead’s” Atlanta-based apocalypse signaled that Georgia was open for business, the premiere of Netflix’s “Stranger Things” marked the increased importance of the streaming services as competitors to cable and the networks. Like “The Walking Dead,” it’s the kind of show that inspires guided tours and themed escape rooms, even as its brand of 1980s kids vs. monsters nostalgia has lost some of its spark over the years.

“Stranger Things’” rapidly-aging cast of young actors return for the fourth and final season, with episodes dropping in two parts on May 27 and then July 1.

Also in 2016, Donald Glover’s “Atlanta” debuted on FX and established itself as one of the city’s best creative exports. Ostensibly a sly, sharply-observed dramedy about the city’s hip-hop scene. “Atlanta” has proved to be a show of striking ambition, able to nimbly switch from situational comedy to Gothic horror to allegories on race and politics between episodes, while maintaining the same aesthetic sensibility.

After a two-year delay, “Atlanta’s” third season finds the show more ambitious than ever. Most episodes follow rapper Paper Boi (Bryan Tyree Henry), his manager Earn (creator Donald Glover) and their pals having weird confrontations and unexpected epiphanies while touring Europe. But “Atlanta” has also become a de facto anthology show, with some episodes having (apparently) nothing to do with the main ensemble, but everything to do with race in the 21st century.

The harrowing season premiere “Three Slaps” fictionalized a real-life tragedy to show Black children fostered by deranged white liberals into a kind of modern-day slavery. “The Big Payback,” offered a “Twilight Zone”-style take on the reparations issue – or, specifically, a satire of white anxiety over the issue. No matter the subject, Glover and his creative team have become masters at sustaining tensions, whether comedic or dramatic, and following their instincts to revelatory places.

“Atlanta’s” third season is scheduled to conclude May 19, with its fourth and final season currently expected to air later in 2022. The culminations of “The Walking Dead,” “Stranger Things” and “Atlanta” will feel like the end of an era. Hopefully these won’t be peaks of popularity and creativity for Atlanta-made television, but just the trail-blazers.

Fri., May 6

Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness — Fresh from his supporting role in winter’s blockbuster hit Spider-man: No Way Home, Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) returns to prevent a crisis on infinite Earths. “WandaVision’s” Elizabeth Olsen co-stars, but the most intriguing talent involved is director Sam Raimi, who launched Marvel superhero movies as we know them with his Spider-man trilogy. Can he save today’s Marvel Cinematic Universe from its persistently drab visuals and slavish continuity? 
Opening May 6 at area theaters.

Wed., May 11

This Much I Know To Be True — Andrew Dominik’s documentary explores the creative process and live performances of artists Nick Cave and Warren Ellis in a one-time screening.
$15. 7 p.m. Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, 931 Monroe Drive NE, Atlanta, 30308.

Fri., May 13

Memoria — Acclaimed Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul directs this Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize winner that stars Tilda Swinton as a woman uncovering a mystery in Columbia. The distributor originally announced a “never-ending release” at one theater at a time, but then adopted a more traditional release at multiple U.S. theaters.
$13. Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce de Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, 30306.

Wed., May 18

Take Me To the River New Orleans — This music documentary showcases New Orleans’ diversity of music, from traditional jazz to contemporary hip-hop and more. — Curt Holman
7 p.m. Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, 931 Monroe Drive NE, Atlanta, 30308.

Thu., May 19

Thrilling Bloody Sword — For years this insane-sounding Thai martial arts fantasy was only available to U.S. viewers on bootleg video. A new 2K digital version preserves this phantasmagoric, low-budget riff on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs that adds demons and swordfights. It sounds like a must-see experience with a live audience.
$13. Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce de Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, 30306.

Tue., May 24

Do the Right Thing — Landmark Midtown Art Cinema’s spring classics series winds up with 1989’s scorching, still-relevant take on race relations. In Spike Lee’s breakthrough film, an Italian-owned pizzeria in the majority black Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood becomes a flashpoint on the hottest day of the year. Now regarded as a classic, it was famously underrepresented at the Academy Awards, which gave Best Picture to Driving Miss Daisy that year. The cast includes Giancarlo Esposito, Danny Aiello, Rosie Perez, Samuel L. Jackson, Bill Nunn and Spike Lee himself.
$13. Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, 931 Monroe Drive NE, Atlanta, 30308.

Thu., May 26

Demons — Videodrome’s “Filmovond” series collaboration with Summerhill’s Halfway Crooks Beers presents free screenings – with popcorn on the house– at the outdoor biergarten. May’s installment is Demons, Lamberto Bava’s horror film about two college students trapped in a movie theater with a bunch of you-know-whats.
Halfway Crooks Beer, 60 Georgia Ave. SE, Atlanta, 30312.

Fri., May 27-Sun., May 29

Atlanta DocuFest — The 17th annual Atlanta International Documentary Film Festival, a.k.a. Atlanta DocuFest, presents independent nonfiction feature films and shorts from around the world.
RoleCall Theater, 675 Ponce De Leon Ave. NE Atlanta, 30308.