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With cinemas across the world facing financial ruin as they shut their doors amid the growing coronavirus pandemic, many cinephiles have been coming up with ideas of how to support these businesses through such turbulent times.
Among these is the idea of joining membership schemes and buying gift cards to help give cinemas some much-needed income, or at least not unsubscribing from schemes even though theaters could be out of action for several months.
“After you’ve read this, why not buy a membership for yourself, or for someone close to you. Buy some gift cards. Donate where you can. Consider, if you can afford to, not asking for your unlimited subscription to be refunded,” he wrote. “Yes, you may not be able to go back in the coming months, but you’ll feel better for having helped now than if you later found your local church of cinema had been forced to close for good. I myself have been buying memberships to cinemas I frequent that I hadn’t already joined.”
While Wright acknowledged that this was “not a luxury that everyone can afford,” he said those who could should think of the “many hard-working staff at your favorite cinema who may have just lost their jobs. This might help ensure they have a place of work to return to.”
Across Europe, independent cinemas, which have been forced to close due to COVID-19, have reported an outpouring of similar support from their customers.
“We’ve been inundated with emails and on social media, asking, ‘can we buy a gift certificate, how can we help?’,” says André Jansen, who runs a Berli Hürth cinema, a one-screen theater near Cologne, Germany. “The response has been really overwhelming.”
The Hollywood Reporter has also heard of some cinemas setting up Paypal accounts to let customers donate money, buying “virtual tickets or virtual cups of coffee” to help keep the businesses afloat.
Of course, not every cinema is equipped to handle all of these methods of financial support, especially without any over-the-counter interaction. Lamented one exec at a small U.K. cinema chain: “Sadly we can’t sell gift cards through our website, unless we spend a few days and £750 ($866) and then have to give away a percentage to the payment people anyway.”
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