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Dozens of influential filmmakers on Wednesday joined the National Association of Theatre Owners, the Directors Guild of America and the Motion Picture Association in urging Congress to provide assistance to struggling theater owners impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Together, they warn that many cinemas may not otherwise survive. The vast majority of exhibition companies — or 93 percent — weathered losses of 75 percent in the second quarter of 2020 after moviegoing came to an unprecedented stop in mid-March.
While more than half of theaters are now reopened, Hollywood continues to delay its major fall releases out of concern that many moviegoers aren’t yet ready to return.
If this trend continues, NATO is warning that 69 percent of small- and mid-sized movie theaters will be forced to file for bankruptcy or close permanently, while 66 percent of theater jobs will be lost.
“I am extraordinarily grateful for the unprecedented support from our industry partners and the talented and concerned members of the movie industry creative community,” NATO president-CEO John Fithian said in a statement. “The value of their recognition of the unique importance of movie theaters to our communities, culture and economy, and their support before Congress of the unique needs of movie theaters in this pandemic cannot be underestimated.”
The letter itself — which was addressed to Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy — asks that Capitol Hill lawmakers work in a bipartisan fashion to redirect unallocated funds from the CARES Act, or authorize new assistance programs for those businesses that have suffered the steepest revenue drops as a result of COVID-19.
“Cinemas are an essential industry that represent the best that American talent and creativity have to offer. But now we fear for their future,” states the document. “Our country cannot afford to lose the social, economic and cultural value that theaters provide. The moviegoing experience is central to American life. Theaters are great unifiers where our nation’s most talented storytellers showcase their cinematic accomplishments.”
Continuing, the letter notes that theaters “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.”
Below are the directors, writers and producers signing the document.
Jon M. Chu
Cary Joji Fukunaga
Alejandro González Iñárritu
Michael R. Roskam
David O. Russell
M. Night Shyamalan
David E. Talbert
Michael G. Wilson
Oct. 2, 11 a.m. Updated with additional signatories.
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