Cinemas “may not survive pandemic” says open letter signed by Wes Anderson, Jordan Peele and Sofia Coppola
Writing to US senate and house leaders, the letter by major film industry organisations calls for urgent financial support to avoid losing the “social, economic and cultural value theatres provide”.
- Jenny Brewer
- 6 October 2020
- Reading Time
- 2 minute read
An open letter from three major film industry organisations to the US Congress calls for urgent financial support for cinemas as the coronavirus pandemic threatens the future of the majority of theatres across the country. The letter is signed by a host of renowned filmmakers including Wes Anderson, Jordan Peele, Sofia Coppola, Greta Gerwig, Steve McQueen, Miranda July, Christopher Nolan, Judd Apatow and Luca Guadagnino.
The letter says movie theatres are “in dire straits” and urges Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and Kevin McCarthy to direct funds from the Cares Act – $2.2 trillion of economic aid that is going to businesses and workers severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic – or new proposals such as the Restart Act, to cinemas to allow them to stay afloat. Without financial help, “theatres may not survive the impact of the pandemic,” the letter states; it goes on to state that 93 per cent of movie theatre companies had over 75 per cent in losses in the second quarter of 2020, and if this continues, 69 per cent of small and mid-sized movie theatre companies will be forced to go bankrupt or close. This means 66 per cent of theatre jobs will be lost, a sector which the letter says is a leader 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,” write representatives from the National Association of Theatre Owners, the Directors Guild of America, and the Motion Picture Association.
“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. Theatres 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.” Further signatories include Noah Baumbach, Barry Jenkins, Lulu Wang, Seth Rogen, Mimi Leder, Jon Chu, Clint Eastwood, Ang Lee, Sam Mendes and Edgar Wright.
The letter comes as cinema chain Cineworld announced it would close all its screens in the US, UK and Ireland, and wrote to the UK government stating the industry is now “unviable”. Cinemas globally were banking on the new James Bond film to bring in customers, but its release has just been delayed again until April 2021. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has said it was supporting cinemas through VAT cuts on tickets, as well as giving business rate holidays and bounce-back loans. Philippa Childs of entertainment and broadcasting union Bectu told the BBC that delayed releases of big budget films had “plunged cinema into crisis,” and that film studios “will have to think carefully when considering release dates about the impact that will have for the long-term future of the big screen”.
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