Erwin Brothers Join Top Filmmakers to Warn Congress of Struggling Theaters

Photo from Erwin Brothers Instagram

Erwin Brothers Join Top Filmmakers to Warn Congress of Struggling Theaters

By Cooper Dowd, Staff Writer

Prominent directors, writers and producers joined the National Association of Theatre Owners, the Directors Guild of America and the Motion Picture Association to address Congress. They requested that Congress offer provision and support for struggling theater owners affected by pandemic-related closures.  

Among the list of names are Andrew and Jon Erwin, who are outstanding directors for faith-based content. They directed the 2018 film I CAN ONLY IMAGINE—which won the Epiphany Prize® for Inspiring Movies at the 2019 Movieguide® Awards—and 2020’s I STILL BELIEVE.

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

Theaters gradually reopened their doors after the sudden closures back in March. However, according to The Hollywood Reporter, 93% of theaters “weathered losses of 75 percent in the second quarter of 2020.”  

After Warner Bros.’s TENET debut, many studios fear that audiences are not ready to return en masse and are delaying blockbuster films. Over half of the country’s theaters are open but are without tentpole movies and key markets in LA and NYC to drive profits. 

While larger theater chains such as AMC, Cinemark and Regal Cinemas are weathering the storm and reducing showtimes, according to the National Association of Theatre Owners, 69% of the small and mid-sized cinemas will have no choice but to file for bankruptcy or close their doors permanently. Moreover, NATO also estimated that 66% of theater jobs could be lost.  

“I am extraordinarily grateful for the unprecedented support from our industry partners and the talented and concerned members of the movie industry creative community,” John Fithian, NATO president and CEO, said in a statement. “The value of their recognition of the unique importance of movie theaters to our communities, culture, and economy, and their support before Congress of the unique needs of movie theaters in this pandemic cannot be underestimated.”

The letter directly addresses Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. 

The letter asks for the redirection of unallocated funds from the CARES act or for new support programs to be made to aid the businesses that experience the most precipitous revenue declines as a result of COVID-19.   

“Our country cannot afford to lose the social, economic, and cultural value that theaters provide. The moviegoing experience is central to American life. Theaters are great unifiers where our nation’s most talented storytellers showcase their cinematic accomplishments,” the document reads.