Movie theaters may have reopened across parts of the nation — though still not in New York City or Los Angeles, two of the biggest markets — but they’re far from back to normal. Safety measures have forced them to operate at a fraction of their original capacity, and concessions are still a no-no. Not even the breathlessly anticipated Tenet has been able to save them. There’s a chance the nation’s movie theaters may not survive the pandemic, which is why dozens of filmmakers signed a letter, urging congress to take action.
According to Deadline, directors like Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, Sofia Coppola, Greta Gerwig, and many, many more joined with the Director’s Guild of America, the National Association of Theatre Owners and the Motion Picture Association, penning a joint letter that urges Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy to come to the rescue. The letter asks redirect unallocated funds from the CARES Act to save what was once one of the most profitable businesses in America.
“The moviegoing experience is central to American life,” the letter read. “Theaters are great unifiers where our nation’s most talented storytellers showcase their cinematic accomplishments.” Moreover, it read, “theaters are economic force multipliers,” employing 150,000 exhibition industry jobs, plus countless more across distribution, marketing, production, plus retail where multiplexes are located.
The letter also states that 3 percent of theater companies and losses of more than 75 percent compared to this time last year. Without any aid, 69 percent of small and mid-sized movie theater companies will be forced to file for bankruptcy, and may have to close permanently. If that happens, 66 percent of theater jobs will be lost.
Other filmmakers who signed the letter include Wes Anderson, Judd Apatow, Noah Baumbach, James Cameron, Jon Chu, Alfonso Cuarón, Lee Daniels, Clint Eastwood, Barry Jenkins, Patty Jenkins, Rian Johnson, Richard Linklater, Steve McQueen, Seth Rogen, M. Night Shyamalan, Zack Snyder, Steven Soderbergh, Taika Waititi, Edgar Wright, and Michael Bay.
The full letter can be read 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.