The National Association of Theatre Owners has again called on Congress to pass relief for cinemas of all sizes across the U.S. through their #SaveYourCinema campaign.
Launched in July, the #SaveYourCinema campaign has spurred more than 100,000 moviegoers to send over 300,000 letters to Congress, urging their representatives to support measures designed to help cinemas, including enacting the RESTART Act, expanding of the Paycheck Protection Program, and implementing more relief measures under the CARES Act.
NATO’s renewed call for support comes during a difficult week for the theatrical exhibition industry. The domestic theatrical release schedule continues to shift, with the highly anticipated No Time to Die moving from their November slot to next April. Following that announcement, F9 moved from April 2021 to May 2021. In the subsequent days, several titles from Warner Bros. (including Dune and The Batman), Sony, and Universal (Jurassic World: Dominion) were also moved to later release dates.
Patty Jenkins—director of Warner Bros. December release Wonder Woman 1984—has renewed her commitment to theatrical streaming, noting on Twitter that the possibility of Wonder Woman 1984 bypassing theaters and going straight to streaming is “not even being discussed,” adding “We are still 100% behind the theatrical experience for [Wonder Woman 1984] and supporting our beloved theater business.” Jenkins is one 93 directors, producers, and writers—also including James Cameron, Alma Har’el, Barry Jenkins, Christopher Nolan, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas—who signed a letter urging support of theaters through the #SaveYourCinema campaign.
The lack of stability in the theatrical calendar over the coming months was cited by Cineworld as a key reason behind their decision to temporarily shut down their U.K. and U.S. locations, including 536 Regal locations in the U.S. The move will affect approximately 45 thousand employees, most of them in the United States. AMC and Cinemark subsequently confirmed to Boxoffice Pro that they do not have plans to alter their reopening timelines, while other chains—like Marcus and Malco Theatres—have confirmed that they will be looking at potential temporary closures on a case-by-case basis. Two Alamo Drafthouse locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area announced today that they are closing temporarily, citing a “lack of upcoming major new releases.”
“The stark reality is that many movie theaters will not be able to open again if they don’t receive government help,” says Esther Baruh, Director of Government Relations for NATO. “This is as urgent as it gets. The exhibition industry thrived before this pandemic and it will thrive again, but theaters and their employees need a bridge to get them to that point.”