The coronavirus continues to exact a brutal toll on the movie theater industry. Where I live, theaters remain closed, and have been for months and months; New York multiplexes still do not know when they will be able to resume operation. Other theaters are open, but with almost no new releases since the end of August, almost few new releases on the horizon until November at the earliest — and, oh yeah, an ongoing pandemic — many are struggling to bring customers in the door.

The National Association of Theatre Owners is warning that if the government doesn’t intervene, the financial repercussions could be catastrophic. A new letter sent to Congress by NATO, the Motion Picture Association of America, and the Director’s Guild, states that many theaters could be lost for good if the industry does not receive some kind of government aid. By their estimate almost 7 in 10 small and mid-sized theaters in this county could close:

The pandemic has been a devastating financial blow to cinemas. 93% of movie theater companies had over 75% in losses in the second quarter of 2020. If the status quo continues, 69% of small and mid-sized movie theater companies will be forced to file for bankruptcy or to close permanently, and 66% of theater jobs will be lost. Our country cannot afford to lose the social, economic, and cultural value that theaters provide.

The letter was signed by dozens of major filmmakers, including Michael Bay, Judd Apatow, Clint Eastwood, Lee Daniels, Damien Chazelle, Barry Jenkins, Rian Johnson, Patty Jenkins, James Cameron, Edgar Wright, James Wan, Taika Waititi, Zack Snyder, Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, Adam McKay, Greta Gerwig, and many more.

Negotiations for a new stimulus bill are ongoing between the White House and Congress. Without one that sets aside money for movie theaters, the prognosis, at least according to this letter, is bleak. “Absent a solution designed for their circumstances,” it writes, “theaters may not survive the impact of the pandemic.”

Gallery — What We Miss About Going to the Movie Theater:

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