Movie Theater Rescue Called For By Top Filmmakers, NATO, MPA, DGA In Letter To Congress: “Theaters May Not Survive”

Dozens of top filmmakers joined with the DGA and trade groups NATO and the MPA to call on Congress to aid movie theaters, warning in a letter that theaters “may not survive the impact” of COVID-19.

Signatories of the letter sent to House and Senate leaders include Christopher Nolan, James Cameron, Judd Apatow, Jon Chu, Sofia Coppola, Alfonso Cuarón, Lee Daniels and Clint Eastwood. (Read the full letter below.)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy are urged to redirect unallocated funds from the CARES Act. Theaters have reopened in many states, but not yet in New York, a crucial market. Even areas that have reopened are operating with strict capacity limits, and studios have shifted most of their releases out of 2020, throwing in the towel on a movie year where box office receipts are apt to plummet by at least 70% from 2019 levels.

In a press release accompanying the letter, the DGA and the trade groups said 93% of movie theater companies had year-over-year losses of more than 75% in the second quarter of 2020. If the status quo continues, the groups say, 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.

The coalition is urging a bipartisan solution to help theaters with existing funds or by enacting new proposals such as the RESTART Act.

“I am extraordinarily grateful for the unprecedented support from our industry partners and the talented and concerned members of the movie industry creative community,” said John Fithian, NATO President and CEO. “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.”

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.

Here is the full letter:

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.

Sincerely,

John Fithian President & CEO, NATO
Russ Hollander, National Executive Director, DGA
Charles Rivkin, Chairman & CEO, MPA
Thomas Schlamme, President, DGA

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Wes Anderson
Judd Apatow
Jon Avnet
Sean Baker
Noah Baumbach
Michael Bay
Susanne Bier
Barbara Broccoli
James Cameron
Antonio Campos
Damien Chazelle
Jon M. Chu
Sofia Coppola
Alfonso Cuarón
Lee Daniels
Dean Devlin
Clint Eastwood
Andrew Erwin
Jon Erwin
Paul Feig
Shana Feste
Scott Frank
Cary Joji Fukunaga
Greta Gerwig
Evan Goldberg
Paul Greengrass
Leslie Greif
Luca Guadagnino
Catherine Hardwicke
Alma Har’el
Albert Hughes
Allen Hughes
Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu
Barry Jenkins
Patty Jenkins
Rian Johnson
Miranda July
Nicole Kassell
Jon Landau
Francis Lawrence
Mimi Leder
Ang Lee
Rob Letterman
Shawn Levy
Richard Linklater
James Mangold
Sam Mendes
Adam McKay
Steve McQueen
Ted Melfi
Reed Morano
Christopher Nolan
David O. Russell
Todd Phillips
Guy Ritchie
Seth Rogen
Joachim Rønning
Michael R. Roskam
Martin Scorsese
M. Night Shyamalan
Zack Snyder
Steven Soderbergh
Joey Soloway
David E. Talbert
Betty Thomas
Emma Thomas
Liesl Tommy
Denis Villeneuve
Taika Waititi
James Wan
Lulu Wang
Chris Weitz
Paul Weitz
Michael G. Wilson
Edgar Wright
Joe Wright
Cathy Yan
David Yates

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