One of the first industries to be seriously impacted by COVID-19 was obviously the movie industry. But the economic impact of COVID-19 didn’t just hit actors, film crews, screenwriters, and directors, but also the places that the movies that those people work on — i.e., movie theaters. Indeed, as Fatherly has reported in the past, movie theaters represent perhaps one of the most unsafe places to go to during the airborne pandemic of COVID-19.
After all, epidemiologists say that any enclosed space with a number of people in it that aren’t in your quarantine pod is pretty unsafe, and a movie theater, where people sit in the dark, sitting right on top of each other, and loudly laugh and exhale for several hours, looks a whole lot like a captive audience for catching COVID-19.
As a result of that, and as a result of the economic shutdowns that swept the country in early March and closed many movie theaters since, the movie theater industry is struggling. It’s that struggle that has led dozens of prominent Hollywood directors to write an open letter to Congress, urging them to provide financial support to movie theaters as the pandemic stretches on with no real end in sight.
Indeed, the pandemic has crushed movie theaters. In the letter, which was addressed to the House Majority and Senate Majority and the subsequent Minority leaders, the co-signers reveal that nearly 95% of movie theater companies suffered over 75% in losses during the second quarter of 2020. Without any further financial support for movie theaters, nearly 70% of small and mid-sized movie theater companies will likely file for bankruptcy or close permanently and over half of movie theater jobs will be permanently lost. Some 268 million Americans went to the movie theaters in 2019; and there are 150,000 people who work at movie theaters across the country. The letter also notes that movie theaters are job multipliers, propping up restaurants, stores, and other shopping destinations around them. And while some movie theaters have re-opened across the country, they’ve done so at limited capacity and in an environment where new films aren’t being released to theaters, meaning their profits are slim if profits at all.
If Congress doesn’t act, many movie theaters will be lost for good, the co-signers say. Hopefully, unused money from the CARES Act can help the struggling industry out. The letter is signed by nearly everyone in Hollywood from Wes Anderson to Barry Jenkins to Rian Johnson to Richard Linklater and more.