Scorsese and Eastwood among directors warning that American cinemas may not survive pandemic

A group of major directors have asked Congress to redirect unspent funds to try and save movie theatres

FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2017 file photo, Martin Scorsese arrives at the AFI Awards in Los Angeles.  Scorsese will direct a comedy special for Netflix on the beloved Canadian sketch comedy show “SCTV.” Netflix on Thursday announced the untitled project that will reunite many of the stars of the 1976-1984 show.  (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
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Oscar-winning film directors James Cameron, Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorsese joined forces with movie theatre owners on Wednesday in an appeal for financial help, saying they feared for the future of the industry.

In a letter to the leaders of the US Senate and House of Representatives, they said the coronavirus pandemic had dealt a devastating blow to cinemas and that without funds "theatres may not survive the impact of the pandemic."

The letter was signed by more than 70 directors and producers along with the National Association of Theatre Owners, the Directors Guild of America and the Motion Picture Association.

The Covid-19 pandemic forced movie theatres to close their doors in mid-March. Big chains including AMC Entertainment and Cineworld Plc's Regal Cinemas have reopened, with reduced capacity, in many US cities, but not in the biggest markets of Los Angeles and New York City.

Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman 1984. Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures
'Wonder Woman' director Patty Jenkins has also signed the letter in a bid to save US theatres. Warner Bros Pictures

Efforts to get Americans back into theatres have proved disappointing, and Hollywood studios have delayed the release of big movies like Black Widow and Top Gun: Maverick to 2021.

The letter said that 69 per cent of small and mid-sized movie theatre companies will be forced to file for bankruptcy or close permanently unless help is forthcoming.

"Cinemas are an essential industry that represent the best that American talent and creativity have to offer. But now we fear for their future," the letter said.

Others signing the letter included James Bond movie producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson, Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins, and action movie director-producer Michael Bay.

They asked Congress to redirect unspent funds from the coronavirus aid package passed earlier this year, or enact new proposals that would help movie theatres weather the pandemic.