The Motion Picture Association, Directors Guild of America, and NATO have joined forces with dozens of Hollywood’s leading filmmakers in a letter asking Congress to provide aid for the movie theater industry, which they warn “may not survive the impact of COVID-19,” Deadline reports.
Seth Rogen, Lee Daniels, James Cameron, Sofia Coppola, Barry Jenkins, Patty Jenkins, Ang Lee, Steven Soderbergh, Cathy Yan, Alfonso Cuarón, Christopher Nolan, Wes Anderson, and Judd Apatow are among the high-profile directors requesting that Congress use unallocated funds from the CARES Act to a struggling theater business that shows no signs of a bounce back this year.
Despite a growing number of films being pushed back to next year or studios trying out the VOD market, Nolan’s blockbuster Tenet opted to push forward with a late summer 2020 release, and its box office numbers haven't been great. This past weekend, Tenet earned just $3.4 million domestically in its fourth weekend, making it the lowest-grossing movie to reach No. 1 since 1988, and pushing its U.S. total to $41.2 million.
Any film released in the midst of this pandemic will not see a significant return at the box office as long as theaters in major markets, like Los Angeles and New York, remain closed.
The letter suggests passing the RESTART Act, which builds off of the groundwork of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), but offers small businesses greater flexibility on what their aid can be used to cover, such as rent and utilities.
The letter notes 93 percent of movie theater companies reported year-over-year losses of more than 75 percent in the second quarter of 2020. If these trends continue, 69 percent of mid-sized and small theater companies will need to either file for bankruptcy or close permanently. It is also believed that the industry, which has around 150,000 employees, could lose 66 percent of its workforce.