After more than six months of struggles amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Hollywood has sent a dire message about the state of the film industry, national theaters could not survive without help.
Groups representing movie studios, theater owners and directors on Wednesday called on Washington lawmakers to provide specific relief to film operators, saying nearly 70% of small and medium-sized theater companies would be forced to file for bankruptcy or to cease operations without government assistance. .
Dozens of famous filmmakers, including Judd Apatow, James Cameron, Greta Gerwig, Christopher Nolan, Jordan Peele, Wes Anderson, Clint Eastwood and Ang Lee, have signed a letter calling on the federal government to support the industry, which remains closed in many from the country.
The national association. of Theater Owners (NATO), the Washington-based organization seeking exhibitors, sent the letter, which was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), to Minority Leader Charles Schumer (DN.Y.), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield). The Motion Picture Assn., The lobby representing major film studios, joined NATO in signing the letter, as did the Directors Guild of America.
Without a suitable solution for their situation, theaters may not survive the impact of the pandemic, industry groups said in the letter. Movie theaters are a vital industry that represents the best that American talent and creativity have to offer. But now we fear for their future.
Theaters have slowly started to reopen across the country in anticipation of Nolans Tenet in the United States ahead of Labor Day weekend. But after Tenet reported modest domestic box office results, studios such as Walt Disney Co. and Universal Pictures continued to delay big movies, fearing that too few theaters would open to support expensive blockbusters and that too few moviegoers are ready to return. Disney moved several titles last week, including Black Widow and Steven Spielbergs West Side Story, to later dates. Warner Bros. moved Wonder Woman 1984 “from October to Christmas.
Theaters remain closed to markets accounting for around 30% of annual box office sales, including Los Angeles County and New York, the two largest filming locations in the country. Neither jurisdiction has indicated when the theaters may return. This has posed problems for movie chains that need new films to operate profitably. Some have reduced hours to stem the losses.
According to industry groups, 93% of exhibitors saw their revenues fall by 75% or more in the second quarter, compared to the same period last year. In the United States, the theater industry employs 150,000 people, many of whom work part-time and hourly. If the status quo continues, two-thirds of those jobs could disappear, the groups warned. Our country cannot afford to lose the social, economic and cultural value that theaters bring, the letter said.
Industry leaders have called on elected officials to respond by allocating unspent funds from the CARES Act, the stimulus package President Trump enacted in March, to programs designed for industries, including theaters. They also suggest passing additional measures such as the RESTART Act, a congressional bill that would help sites and other businesses by expanding and strengthening the paycheck protection program.
These solutions would meet Congress’ intention to help severely struggling sectors of the economy and ensure that our resources are focused on industries that need them most, according to the letter.
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