Be a Superhero: Save Your Theater!

By Ian Brockway

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The National Association of Theatre Owners is urging movie-lovers and cinephiles to send letters asking for relief during this unprecedented era of the coronavirus. The call to action follows up on a recent letter to Congress signed by some 93 filmmakers including George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight) and Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman), just to name a few.

The campaign urges Congress to enact multiple solutions that could help movie theaters exist and cope within this crisis, including an expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program, enacting the RESTART Act (S. 3814/H.R. 7481), and reallocating unspent money from the CARES Act toward relief programs that target cinemas of all types.

93% of movie theater companies had more than 75% in losses in the second quarter of 2020. Earlier this week, No. 2 U.S. circuit, Regal, was forced to close down. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo refuses to reopen cinemas. San Francisco has allowed cinemas to reopen, but has banned the sale of concessions, which is the lifeblood of movie houses.

Esther Baruh, director of government relations for NATO, gave a grim assessment if we do not act. “The stark reality is that many movie theaters will not be able to open again if they don’t receive government help…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.” Speaker Nancy Pelosi ruled out a stand-alone bill for additional relief that would support our movie theaters.

We have all loved to watch Marvel superheroes on screen. Few of us can forget the thrilling and Pop Art allure of Black Panther. Now is the time for each of us to be our own superhero and help save our precious and festive cinemas. Especially the very unique category of art-houses, for films that expand our minds as well as dazzling our eyes, and enrich our philosophies of what it means to be human. It is not just about passing entertainment but about the way we see the world and our very quality of life.

Please write or email Nancy Pelosi or our local representatives, including Rick Scott, Marco Rubio and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. Use your keyboard or pen to save the unique and special ritual of watching blockbusters, art films and documentaries on the big screen.

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