Movie theaters are among the industries being hit hardest due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Despite making a desperate attempt to come back as businesses around the country began to reopen, the release of Christopher Nolan‘s Tenet wasn’t the savior they were counting on. Since its lackluster box office, studios have sent their movies running for the safety of either the winter of 2020, or perhaps more wisely, sometime in 2021. With barely any movies to draw in a crowd, movie theaters are facing a real crisis, and now Hollywood’s biggest filmmakers are imploring the U.S. Congress to do something to help them.
Dozens of filmmakers, including Martin Scorsese, Sofia Coppola, Taika Waititi, Greta Gerwig, Seth Rogen, Cathy Yan, Barry Jenkins, Michael Bay, Judd Apatow, Alfonso Cuarón, Edgar Wright, M. Night Shyamalan, and more, all signed a letter addressed to Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Schumer, and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. In it, they ask congress to “prioritize assistance for the hardest-hit industries, like our country’s beloved movie theaters.” Read the full letter below.
In the letter, the filmmakers aligned with John Fithian, President & CEO of the National Association of Theater Owners, to say:
“The pandemic has been a devastating financial blow to cinemas. 93% of movie theater companies had over 75% in losses in the second quarter of 2020. If the status quo continues, 69% of small and mid-sized movie theater companies will be forced to file for bankruptcy or to close permanently, and 66% of theater jobs will be lost. Our country cannot afford to lose the social, economic, and cultural value that theaters provide.”
They continue by calling the moviegoing experience “central to American life” and defining it as “an essential industry that represent the best that American talent and creativity have to offer.” Furthermore, they highlight the economic importance of the film industry, including how many jobs movie theaters provide, on top of all those who make cinema possible, whether they’re directors or below the line crew members.
Their request is this: reallocate unspent funds from the CARES Act toward programs designed for industries like movie theaters, or by enacting new proposals such as the RESTART Act. Unless movie theaters get financial help from somewhere, there won’t be nearly as many theaters to watch movies in by the time 2021 rolls around.
The coronavirus pandemic is still very much a real threat. While many countries around the world have had success squashing the virus with strict quarantining and extensive shutdowns, certain government leaders and their citizens have been obstinate about the easiest and most efficient ways to deal with the problem in a significant way. Businesses have opened up too early, schools are unnecessarily back in session, and as the coronavirus numbers continue to grow, so does the damage inflicted upon not just our economy, but the citizens of the United States.
We’ve heard movie theaters will likely have to close again if blockbusters keep shifting from being released this year. They just don’t have the movies to remain open, and that means thousands more could be out of a job. So this is the only other option to keep them afloat. Here’s hoping our leaders listen.
Read the full letter from the filmmakers, including the list of everyone who signed, below.
Dear Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, and Leader McCarthy:
Thank you for your leadership at this challenging time for our country. As you consider forthcoming COVID-19 relief legislation, we ask you to prioritize assistance for the hardest-hit industries, like our country’s beloved movie theaters.
No doubt you are hearing from many, many businesses that need relief. Movie theaters are in dire straits, and we urge you to redirect unallocated funds from the CARES Act to proposals that help businesses that have suffered the steepest revenue drops due to the pandemic, or to enact new proposals such as the RESTART Act (S. 3814/H.R. 7481). Absent a solution designed for their circumstances, theaters may not survive the impact of the pandemic.
The pandemic has been a devastating financial blow to cinemas. 93% of movie theater companies had over 75% in losses in the second quarter of 2020. If the status quo continues, 69% of small and mid-sized movie theater companies will be forced to file for bankruptcy or to close permanently, and 66% of theater jobs will be lost. Our country cannot afford to lose the social, economic, and cultural value that theaters provide.
The moviegoing experience is central to American life. 268 million people in North America went to the movies last year to laugh, cry, dream, and be moved together. Theaters are great unifiers where our nation’s most talented storytellers showcase their cinematic accomplishments. Every aspiring filmmaker, actor, and producer dreams of bringing their art to the silver screen, an irreplaceable experience that represents the pinnacle of filmmaking achievement.
As well as their critical cultural impact, theaters are economic force multipliers. In addition to the 150,000 employees working in cinemas nationwide, the industry supports millions of jobs in movie production and distribution, and countless others in surrounding restaurants and retailers that rely on theaters for foot traffic. Movie theaters are also leaders in employing underrepresented groups, including people with disabilities, senior citizens, and first-time job holders. Cinemas are an essential industry that represent the best that American talent and creativity have to offer. But now we fear for their future.
Theaters need specific relief targeted to their circumstances. We urge you to come together on a bipartisan solution that provides this relief, by reallocating unspent funds from the CARES Act toward programs designed for industries like movie theaters, or by enacting new proposals such as the RESTART Act. These solutions would fulfill Congress’s intent in helping severely distressed sectors of the economy and ensure that our resources are focused on the industries that need them the most.
Please fight for our country’s beloved and essential cinemas by including relief for them in any forthcoming COVID-19 legislation. Thank you for your leadership and for considering this request.
John Fithian, President & CEO, NATO
Russ Hollander, National Executive Director, DGA
Charles Rivkin, Chairman & CEO, MPA
Thomas Schlamme, President, DGA
Jon M. Chu
Cary Joji Fukunaga
Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu
David O. Russell
Michael R. Roskam
M. Night Shyamalan
David E. Talbert
Michael G. Wilson
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