John Wick 2 opens in the streets of New York, showing an old movie projected onto a wall. In Jessica Jones Season 2 episodes 1 and 7 set in New York, Jessica and Trish watch an old movie being projected onto a wall together from a rooftop.

Is that a reference to some anonymous New York-based movie screener, or some other phenomena or event that has occurred in New York? Is that something from the comics, implying they are in the same universe?

  • 1
    I'm thinking this might be a troupe that happens to also be common practice. Felicity and Ben also watch old films such as Gold Rush together with a projector on Shaun's rooftop in one episode of the Felicity TV series, which also takes place in New York City. But that show is 20 years old now. Nov 29 '18 at 19:57
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    Related, but not a dupe: Why was there a clip of silent movie at the start of John Wick Chapter 2? Some interesting BTS for John Wick 2, but no reference to it being an actual event in New York IRL, so it's probably just a trope like @DarthLocke said. Possibly a way of setting up scenes that would, pre-1990s, have otherwise been set at a drive-in theater? That also explains Felicity, and it was in the 70s/80s that the popularity of drive-ins began dying off, IIRC.
    – Steve-O
    Nov 30 '18 at 14:31

Kind of.

There is a niche practice of projecting films on buildings or rooftops in NY which partly inspired the opening scene of John Wick 2. JW2's director Chad Stahelski described the inspiration (and his choice of Buster Keaton) in this interview to Slash Film, saying:

We’re big fans of silent movies, or silent storytelling, or visual storytelling as opposed to just exposition. So I had to reveal what we’ve already determined is kind of a mythological figure. Once again, let’s just stick to what we know, we’ll just do it with... When I say action I just don’t mean stunts, I mean let’s just tell a story [visually]. It’s a wacky city [...] and as a little nod to our established audience, we want everybody to know that we’re making fun of ourselves. We’re gonna start with Buster Keaton.

We went to New York, and we saw all these kids from the NYC film school, and it was awesome, they’re just walking around with [t]his little projector on a little red wagon. It was really funny. With a little generator, they’re projecting all these silent movie images up on buildings and taking pictures, and that was part of their art project. Like, that’s f#@&ing genius. Yeah, I just talked to the kid, “I’m gonna steal your s#!@, man.” So I was like, I’m gonna get the right to a Buster Keaton film, and I’m gonna project it on a wall, to let everybody know out there we’re making a fun action movie.

But it's not just film students. This 2009 New York Times article describes the practice through a couple in NY projecting rooftop movies for their friends (like Jessica Jones) and mentions a Brooklyn organization that does this regularly:

What they found was nothing short of their own personal movie theater. The rooftop of their fourth-floor walk-up, besides affording majestic views of Manhattan, includes a white wall — a perfect surface for showing a movie. [...] Screening movies up on the roof is nothing new, of course. Rooftop Films, based in Brooklyn, has been doing it on summer weekends for years.

Rooftop Films has been around since 1997, projecting independent shorts and well-known features against NY backdrops for large audiences. (They usually place screens on the intended buildings, though.)

  • Street projections aren't exclusive to NY, of course, or to old movies.
    – Walt
    Jan 10 '19 at 8:43

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