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Filmmakers plead for relief funding for movie theaters

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A group of high-profile directors — including Clint Eastwood, Sofia Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan and Lee Daniels — is calling on Congress to help movie theaters hit by the coronavirus pandemic, saying without some financial relief the cinemas “may not survive.”

More than 70 directors, producers and writers signed a letter sent Wednesday to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), along with the National Association of Theater Owners, the Directors Guild of America and the Motion Picture Association.

Movie theaters, the letter states, are in “dire straits” due to COVID-19.

“Absent a solution designed for their circumstances, theaters may not survive the impact of the pandemic,” which has hit them with “devastating financial blow,” it says. 

The letter, also signed by big names such as Seth Rogen, Judd Apatow, M. Night Shyamalan, Alfonso Cuarón and Steven Soderbergh, urges Congress to redirect unallocated funds from the CARES Act, which passed this spring, “to proposals that help businesses that have suffered the steepest revenue drops due to the pandemic” or to “enact new proposals such as the RESTART Act.” 

Cinemas closed their doors earlier this year as the pandemic spread across the country, with movie studios pushing back release dates for many films. Several chains have since reopened with limited capacity.

The letter says 93 percent of movie theater companies suffered from more than 75 percent in losses in the second quarter. 

“Cinemas are an essential industry that represent the best that American talent and creativity have to offer,” says the letter. “But now we fear for their future.”

The letter comes as congressional negotiators are seeking to reach an agreement on another round of coronavirus relief spending.

Tags CARES Act Charles Schumer Coronavirus coronavirus relief coronavirus stimulus Kevin McCarthy Mitch McConnell movie theaters Nancy Pelosi

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