We are all missing the cinema. The glow of the big screen, the smell of the popcorn, the delight of watching a great movie unfold, for movie fans there really is nothing better than the theater experience. A new campaign, #SaveYourCinema, has just launched online, asking movie fans to complete a form and send a message directly to their U.S. Senators and state representatives asking them to support legislation that could provide a much-needed financial lifeline for movie theaters and theater chains.

With all that is going on, and due to the ongoing global situation, theaters all over the United States (and the world) have been closed for some time, with audiences wanting to go back, but waiting for it to be safe to do so. While the nation waits for movie theaters to be able to open again, the National Association of Theatre Owners is asking patrons for assistance.

"The [current circumstances] has put movie theaters across the country at risk of going dark for good. From small independent screens to nationwide exhibitors, our local theaters employ over 150,000 people and have formed a cornerstone of the American experience for generations. Without swift action from Congress our favorite theaters could close forever, depriving audiences of the magic of movies for years to come."

The campaign states that "Together, we can urge Congress to keep movie theaters alive until they can fully reopen." It certainly sounds like a worthy cause, and requires very little effort to try and help save cinemas amidst this trying time.

"As a moviegoer in your community, I am writing to ask you to save our local movie theaters. Without your help, we could lose our beloved cinemas and a cherished American pastime. I urge you to support the RESTART Act (S. 3814/H.R. 7481), and to please press Treasury and the Federal Reserve to implement more relief measures for cinemas of all sizes.

Movie theaters had to shut down early on in the pandemic and will be among the last to recover. Over the past few months movie theaters have earned virtually no revenue amidst mounting fixed expenses. Even when theaters can reopen, the road for recovery will be long because of the very nature of movie theaters as public gathering places.

I urge you to save theaters by supporting the RESTART Act (S. 3814/H.R. 7481), which will give movie theaters access to partially forgivable seven-year loans covering six months of expenses, a lifeline for theaters that have been left behind by existing loan programs. I also urge you to press Treasury and the Federal Reserve to implement more relief programs under the CARES Act that help businesses of all sizes.

Movie theaters are integral to the social, cultural, and economic life of our communities. In addition to being community gathering places, theaters employ so many vulnerable individuals underrepresented in the workforce, including young people and people with disabilities. We cannot afford to lose our precious cinemas. I urge you to support these measures and help save movie theaters."

NATO represents more than 35,000 movie screens in all 50 U.S. states, and have so far been very active during this situation in terms of fighting for the survival of independent movie theaters and large theater chains. They have been working closely with studios in order to ensure that prominent blockbuster movies such as Disney's Mulan, Christopher Nolan's Tenet, and Marvel's Black Widow do not skip theaters and go to streaming platforms. But, according to the #SaveYourCinema campaign, financial assistance is needed to keep movie theaters from closure until such a time as they can open safely. You can find the #SaveYourCinema campaign website here.

Jon Fuge at Movieweb
Jon Fuge