Top Filmmakers Warn Congress That Movie Theaters Face Extinction


6:47 PM PDT 9/30/2020


Pamela McClintock

Getty Images

Barry Jenkins; Lulu Wang; Clint Eastwood

“Cinemas are an essential industry that represent the best that American talent and creativity have to offer. But now we fear for their future,” reads a letter sent to Capitol Hill lawmakers asking for additional pandemic relief.

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 warned 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 a standstill in mid-March.

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 — asked 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 which 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 noted 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.

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Agustin Almodovar

Pedro Almodovar

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

Jordan Peele

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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