James Cameron, Christopher Nolan, and other directors call on U.S. Congress to save theaters

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the film industry hard this year. Many famous directors, including James Cameron, Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, and Ang Lee, along with the Directors Guild of America, the National Association of Theater Owners, the Motion Picture Association of America sent a letter to the U.S. Congress asking for help for the COVID-19 affected cinema industry, Reuters said. 

In the letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer, and Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy, the directors asked that the relevant department prioritize helping industries hardest hit, like the country's beloved cinemas.

The letter suggests redirecting unallocated funds from the CARES Act (The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) towards proposals that help businesses that have suffered the biggest drops in revenue due to the pandemic.

The pandemic has dealt a devastating financial blow to cinemas, the letter indicated. Ninety-three percent of film companies recorded more than 75 percent losses in the second quarter of 2020. If the status quo persists, 69 percent of small and medium-sized film companies will be forced to declare bankruptcy or close permanently, and 66 percent of theater jobs will be lost. "Our country cannot afford to lose the social, economic, and cultural value that theaters provide."

The letter asked authorities for equitable distribution of funds from the CARES Act, or the launch of a new initiative, such as the RESTART Act (Reviving the Economy Sustainably Towards a Recovery in Twenty-twenty Act).

In addition to the 150,000 employees working in theaters nationwide, the industry supports millions of jobs in film production and distribution, and countless more in the surrounding restaurants and retailers who depend on theaters for traffic.

Industry leaders said that cinemas are an essential industry that represents the best that American talent and creativity have to offer. "But now we fear for their future."

(Cover: Filmmaker James Cameron attends "Meet The Filmmakers" at Apple Store Soho on August 5, 2014 in New York City. /CFP)