Theatres took a massive hit during the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to bleed because people simply don’t want to stay home and stop the spread of the virus. In India, things have started to go back to “normal” with theatres functioning at 50 percent capacity. But UK has gone into yet another lockdown due to an increase in Coronavirus infected patients, thereby preventing theatres from reopening. And people from the film industry are worried that the damage is going to be permanent.
According to Variety, more than 40 prominent UK film industry figures have written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak requesting further support for the exhibition sector. The letter in the Sunday Times was a follow up to the UK Cinema Association’s December 2002 Keep the Magic Alive campaign. It acknowledged the efforts of the government to keep cinemas afloat but mentioned that those initiatives weren’t enough. Here are some excerpts from it:
“There is no doubt that if supported to survive, the sector will recover and once again thrive. But the need for direct financial support is pressing. We recognize the support that government has already been able to provide. But we fear that this will not be enough, with the challenges being most acute for those larger cinema operators who have not been able to access any tailored funding. These companies represent over 80% of the market, in many ways constituting its ‘critical mass’ and helping to drive the success of associated sectors such as film distribution and production coalesce. Without them, the future of the entire U.K. film industry would look extremely precarious. U.K. cinema stands on the edge of an abyss. We urgently need targeted funding support to ensure that future generations can enjoy the magic of cinema.”
The signatories of this letter are Andrea Arnold, Amma Asante, Simon Beaufoy, Tim Bevan, Danny Boyle, Graham Broadbent, Barbara Broccoli, Iain Canning, Gurinder Chadha, Noel Clarke, Richard Curtis, Stephen Daldry, Gareth Edwards, Eric Fellner, Stephen Frears, Stephen Fry, Sarah Gavron, Jane Goldman, Paul Greengrass, David Heyman, Armando Iannucci, Asif Kapadia, Elizabeth Karlsen Duncan Kenworthy, Paul King, Jude Law, Philippa Lowthorpe, Andrew Macdonald, Kevin Macdonald, Steve McQueen, Sam Mendes, Peter Morgan, Christopher Nolan, Nira Park, David Puttnam, Lynne Ramsay, Guy Ritchie, Ridley Scott, Emma Thomas, Matthew Vaughn, Ben Wheatley, Michael G. Wilson, Stephen Woolley, Edgar Wright, Joe Wright, and David Yates.
I mean, I don’t about you, but that looks like a pretty serious list and if they are worried about UK cinema, others should be as well. And the way I see it, the only way theatres can be saved is if people stay at home, get vaccinated, and then wait for the pandemic to die down while the government keeps things steady by injecting some money into the business. If this doesn’t happen parallelly, I am afraid that filmmakers and viewers have to face the harsh reality that cinemas won’t reopen again and they’ve to watch everything through the small screen.