Hollywood Is Afraid Movie Theaters May Not Survive Pandemic

This week members of the Directors Guild of America, the National Association of Theatre Owners, and the Motion Picture Association sent a lengthy letter to the United States congress asking for a bailout for American movie theaters. With trillions of dollars granted to some American business and families since the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic began, the governing bodies of the country have yet to address the financial hardships placed on entertainment venues like theaters, and the letter sent to them makes that clear. The message is simple, 69% of small and mid-sized movie theater companies will be forced to file for bankruptcy or to close permanently with 66% of theater jobs lost if nothing is done.

"The moviegoing experience is central to American life," the letter reads in part. "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."

The letter is signed by filmmakers like Wes Anderson, Judd Apatow, Michael Bay, James Cameron, Clint Eastwood, Paul Feig, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Barry Jenkins, Patty Jenkins, Rian Johnson, Shawn Levy, James Mangold, Christopher Nolan, Todd Phillips, Guy Ritchie, Seth Rogen, Martin Scorsese, M. Night Shyamalan, Zack Snyder, Steven Soderbergh, Denis Villeneuve, Taika Waititi, James Wan, Lulu Wang, Edgar Wright, and Cathy Yan.

The letter concludes, "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."

At this point it's unclear how things will go for the movie business through the rest of the year. Venues and exhibitors rushed to re-open in August ahead of the release of Christopher Nolan's Tenet, which was hailed as being one of the saving graces of the business. Unfortunately, domestic box office returns for the film didn't quite measure up to that as the movie has only brought in $41.2 million in the United States.

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Though the circumstances surrounding the film's release cannot be compared to any other movie released by Warner Bros. or even Christopher Nolan, it's not a great sign for the business, and the studios know it as movies like Wonder Woman 1984, Black Widow, and more have been delayed once again in recent days.

(Cover photo by Michal Cizek / AFP via Getty Images)