In an essay for the Washington Post, Dunkirk, Inception and Tenet filmmaker Christopher Nolan pushed people to show their support to the affected film industry and thousands of theaters that shut down across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The article, titled “Movie theaters are a vital part of American social life. They will need our help,” begins with Nolan referencing a Missouri-based company named B&B Theaters, which began its business in 1924. However, after a recent nationwide consensus of closing non-essential businesses to prevent large gatherings of people, B&B Theaters had to close over 400 theaters and lay off 2,000 employees. Nolan highlights the fact that this company, among with many others, will be in a devastating financial crisis, even after the coronavirus has passed.
Because cinemas, along with smaller businesses, restaurants, and airlines, may be on the verge of financial collapse, Nolan acknowledges that these smaller companies “have closed their doors in full knowledge of the damage they are doing to their business” and is therefore pleading Congress to act accordingly. “Our nation’s incredible network of movie theaters is one of these industries,” he stated. “And as Congress considers applications for assistance from all sorts of affected businesses, I hope that people are seeing our exhibition community for what it really is: a vital part of social life, providing jobs for many and entertainment for all. These are places of joyful mingling where workers serve up stories and treats to the crowds that come to enjoy an evening out with friends and family. As a filmmaker, my work can never be complete without those workers and the audiences they welcome.”
Nolan points out a crucial sentimental value of movie theaters that most people may have overlooked: “When this crisis passes, the need for collective human engagement, the need to live and love and laugh and cry together, will be more powerful than ever.” In addition, the demand and the promise of new movies could “contribute millions to our natural economy” and give thousands of workers behind the screens the recognition that they deserve.
In recent news, reports of movie production or release dates postponing and Hollywood shifting to VOD releases continue to dominate our social media feed. There may be a superficial perspective of the film industry, as Nolan points out, “the stars, the studios, the glamour.” Yet he sheds an important light on how the virus has impacted experiential and economic aspects of the industry and how workers, from concession stand employee to the film crew, have fell victim to the pandemic.