European Cinemas Body Calls for Government Support Amid Virus Crisis

Cineworld
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Cineworld in London's Leicester Square

The International Union of Cinemas wants national governments to help out hard-hit theaters, which have been forced to close amid the pandemic.

The International Union of Cinemas (UNIC), the body representing European cinema trade associations and major exhibitors, has called for government support for theaters shut down during the coronavirus crisis.

The overwhelming majority of cinemas in Europe have been forced to close in response to stay-at-home measures aimed at limiting the spread of the virus.

"We call on national governments to do all they can in the weeks and months to come to ensure that European cinemas are able to survive and overcome the unprecedented challenges that they face," the UNIC said in a statement. "The entire film and cinema sector is in this together – we will only succeed through supporting each other. Our shared ambition is for European cinemas to emerge from the current challenges to once again be the vibrant home of culture and community that they always have been."

Film industry bodies across Europe have called on national governments to support them and their members amid the current crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has not only shut down theaters but also led to a halt in most television and film production across the continent.

On Monday, CISAC, an association representing some 4 million writers, musicians and other creatives, called on governments to take action "on a global scale" to help an industry facing the "unprecedented threat" posed by the coronavirus outbreak and lockdown measures.

"Creators are in a uniquely fragile position. The large majority of them are self-employed and dependent on royalties paid by authors societies," CISAC said. "Today, and in the coming weeks and months, creators will be among the worst affected by the crisis."

National and regional bodies are already moving to provide assistance to hard-hit sections of the entertainment industry. Several European countries, including France and Germany, have provided help with bridging loans and suspended tax payments for theaters. German regional film subsidy bodies in North Rhine-Westphalia and Berlin-Brandenburg have begun providing direct financial support for arthouse and independent cinemas. German theater association HDF has called for a federal government program, which planned to invest up to $18.5 million (€17 million) to foster upgrades in smaller, rural theaters, to be transformed into a coronavirus emergency fund.

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