Today Scott Cooper issued an open letter, applauding the Senate’s passage of the $2.2 trillion relief bill as a “much-need positive news to an industry I cherish”, particularly in regards to how it’s primed to help movie theaters during this time when they have fixed costs to maintain over several months, and zero revenue coming in. The gruesome worry on everyone’s minds is how movie theaters will be coming out of this shutdown, both big and small; how severe the attrition of screens will be and the ramifications that will have overall.
Cooper is one of the many filmmakers currently impacted by the immediate nationwide shutdown of movie theaters due to coronavirus safety: his latest movie Antlers from Searchlight Pictures was scheduled to open on April 17, and was unfortunately moved off the schedule along with other Disney and Fox titles like Mulan, Black Widow, The New Mutants, and The Woman in the Window due to the current climate. While Universal has opted to put their big event pic Trolls World Tour into homes over Easter weekend, busting the window, there are many filmmakers out there who continue to believe in the power of the big screen, and Cooper is one of them as you can see from his note. Leading up to the Senate’s debate over the relief bill, many filmmakers such as Christopher Nolan, Paul Feig and Jon M. Chu have spoken out publically, ecouraging people to lobby Congress to help theaters and their employees survive so they can remain resilient and return.
During times of the Great Depression and America’s recessions, movies prevailed, and provided a cultural boost of spirits. We’ve been immediately robbed of that now as we all try and figure out how we’ll continue to live in a what appears to be a contagious viral environment moving forward.
“Not even during wartime have we been deprived of the strong and collective emotion that comes with a film screening, one of our most cherished common experiences. In this time of unprecedented challenge and uncertainty, the world mustn’t forget the importance of cinema as a balm for what ails us,” exclaims the Crazy Heart filmmaker today.
Here is Cooper’s full letter below that was circulated by the National Association of Theatre Owners.
I don’t have to remind anyone who reads this that we are experiencing a singular time in our nation’s history when nearly every theater in our country is closed (save for a few die-hard Drive-In Theaters). For the first time since D.W. Griﬃth’s 17-minute, In Old California, was beamed on a white canvas, in Hollywood, on March 10, 1910, there are no new feature-films to be found playing anywhere.
Not even during wartime have we been deprived of the strong and collective emotion that comes with a film screening, one of our most cherished common experiences. In this time of unprecedented challenge and uncertainty, the world mustn’t forget the importance of cinema as a balm for what ails us. The combined impact of images, sound, and special eﬀects elicit deep feelings, and help us better understand our own lives, and those around us. Films speak to the most central aspect of “who we are”.
Along with the National Association of Theater Owners and moviegoers the nation over, I applaud the $2.2 trillion Senate aid package meant to ease immediate economic burdens across the country, and to allow movie theaters to cover fixed costs while normal revenue is interrupted. This is a welcome boost of confidence.
Any return to normalcy is far oﬀ, but this aid package is much-need positive news to an industry I cherish, and, one, along with so many other industries and citizens, that is suﬀering. The exhibition of feature films is a vital part of our social life, and one that provides jobs to over 150,000 theater employees, all of whom are unemployed as a result of the closures. We must continue to work together to support an industry that is vital to our cultural and civic life.
Films will always allow us to explore the past, the present, and the future. They will create conversation and debate. Here’s to a future of good health, and to a return to our cinemas, where the synergistic impact of film continue to create a powerful sense of emotion and engagement — a living record of the human condition.
March 26, 2020