Movie News

Edgar Wright Calls for People to Support Cinemas With Gift Cards, Memberships. Independent cinemas across Europe, forced to close over the coronavirus outbreak, have reported an outpouring of support from customers asking if they could buy gift certificates. With cinemas across the world facing financial ruin as they shut their doors amid the growing coronavirus pandemic, many cinephiles have been coming up with ideas of how to support these businesses through such turbulent times. Among these is the idea of joining membership schemes and buying gift cards to help gives cinemas some much needed income, or at least not unsubscribing from schemes even though theaters could be out of action for several months. Writing for Empire Magazine, Baby Driver director Edgar Wright voiced his support for this approach, urging people to become members of their favorite cinema. "After you've read this, why not buy a membership for yourself, or for someone close to you. Buy some gift cards. Donate where you can. Consider, if you can afford to, not asking for your unlimited subscription to be refunded," he wrote. "Yes, you may not be able to go back in the coming months, but you'll feel better for having helped now than if you later found your local church of cinema had been forced to close for good. I myself have been buying memberships to cinemas I frequent that I hadn't already joined." While Wright acknowledged that this was "not a luxury that everyone can afford," he said those who could should think of the "many hard-working staff at your favorite cinema who may have just lost their jobs. This might help ensure they have a place of work to return to." Across Europe, independent cinemas, which have been forced to close due to COVID-19, have reported an outpouring of similar support from their customers. "We've been inundated with emails and on social media, asking 'can we buy a gift certificate, how can we help?'," says Andre Jansen, who runs a Berli Hrth cinema, a one-screen theater near Cologne, Germany. "The response has been really overwhelming." The Hollywood Reporter has also heard of some cinemas setting up Paypal accounts to let customers donate money, buying "virtual tickets or virtual cups of coffee" to help keep the businesses afloat. Of course, not every cinema is equipped to handle all of these methods of financial support, especially without any over-the-counter interaction. Lamented one exec at a small U.K. cinema chain: "Sadly we can't sell gift cards through our website, unless we spend a few days and 750 ($866) and then have to give away a percentage to the payment people anyway." (Hollywood Reporter)

Theater Owners Ask Congress for Emergency Relief Amid Unprecedented Closures. Virtually all cinemas in the U.S. are dark due to the coronavirus epidemic. The U.S. movie industry and its 150,000 employees are asking Congress for emergency relief as virtually all cinemas across the U.S. go dark due to the coronavirus pandemic. The measures include loan guarantees that ease a liquidity squeeze imposed by fixed costs in the face of non-existent revenues; tax benefits to assist employers with providing support to employees; relieving the burden of costs that are ongoing despite closures; and tax measures that will allow theaters recoup losses when the industry is back up and running. The business model of the movie theater industry is uniquely vulnerable in the present crisis, the National Association of Theatre Owners said Wednesday in announcing the request. "As we confront this evolving and unprecedented period, we call on Congress and the Administration to ensure that America's movie theater industry and its tens of thousands of employees across the country can remain resilient," read the NATO statement. Additionally, the Executive Board of NATO on Wednesday authorized $1 million drawn from the association's reserve to aid movie theater employees who are out of work due to movie theater closures stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. The money will be used as seed funds in an effort to help tide workers over during the crisis. Details of the fund will be released shortly. For what is believed to be the first time in the history, virtually all movie theaters in the country have shut down. The closures began last weekend in isolated cities and counties -- including New York City and Los Angeles, the two biggest moviegoing markets in the country -- before widespread shutdowns were announced Monday and Tuesday, led by the three biggest chains, AMC, Regal and Cinemark. AMC said its locations would remain shuttered for at least six to 12 weeks, upending the spring calendar and potentially upending June's slate. The 2020 domestic box office is looking at billions in lost revenue. (Hollywood Reporter)

Estimated 120,000 Entertainment Industry Crew Jobs Lost During Pandemic. IATSE guilds represent cinematographers, editors, production designers and sound professionals. More than 120,000 IATSE jobs are estimated to have already been lost since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, according to individual correspondences that the International Cinematographers Guild (Local 600) and Motion Picture Editors Guild (Local 700) sent out to members. "This is a devastating time for the entire IA family," MPEG national executive director Cathy Repola wrote Wednesday in a message, which also stated that IATSE "has been successful at securing a standardized two weeks of pay from our more responsible employers. The IA intends to address those employers who are not following suit." The ICG letter, signed by its officers, including newly elected president John Lindley, noted that "although some of our members are being paid for up to two weeks after their shows shut down, based upon the reality of the health care crisis we now face, it is highly unlikely that productions will resume after so short a period of time. This problem is likely to continue for months, not weeks, and our concerns about health, benefits and economic stability are shared by the entire membership." The guild also added that its benefit plans "currently have months of reserves and are not threatened at this moment." Both ICG and MPEG also pointed out that the Motion Picture and Television Fund and The Actor's Fund are prepared to provide financial assistance. On Tuesday, IATSE announced $2.5 million in new charitable donations to both groups, as well as to the Actors Fund of Canada. Still, all of this may not match the need. In response, IATSE international president Matthew D. Loeb this week urged Congress to include displaced entertainment workers in a relief package and asking members to sign this online petition. "As social distancing measures are enacted and events and projects across all sectors of the entertainment industry are cancelled, it's become clear that the COVID-19 crisis requires decisive action from our Federal Government to support displaced entertainment workers," he wrote. "Right now, thousands of our members across all sectors of the entertainment industry are suffering financial hardship because of government mandated cancellations. Entertainment workers shouldn't be collateral damage in the fight against the COVID-19 virus." Wednesday's MPEG letter also urged members to fill out a short IATSE survey if they have been laid off, put on hiatus or had a start dated pushed back. "We need to provide this information to the IATSE," said Repola in the message to members. (Hollywood Reporter)

German Dubbing Artists Stop Work Amid Coronavirus Concerns. The German Dubbing Association, which represents around half of all dubbing artists in Germany, has suspended activity until at least April 19. The German Dubbing Association, which represents around half of all dubbing artists in Germany, has suspended work until at least April 19 amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus. The association's board made the announcement following a telephone conference with its members. The association's members work with all the major Hollywood studios and players, including Netflix and Amazon, as well as all commercial and public networks in Germany to dub non-German films and series. The shutdown means finished productions that have not yet been dubbed will be further delayed. A representative for the association said the studios supported the move to protect the health of dubbing actors who "cannot do their work from home." The rep noted the working conditions in synchronization studios, with artists using the same equipment in close proximity, would not be suitable under current health guidelines for the containment of the coronavirus. "It is still not yet possible to estimate the extent of the delay this is causing to the delivery of dubbed versions [of series and films]," the association said in a statement. "The studios will remain in regular contact to keep themselves updated and to evaluate the current situation." The association didn't detail which films and series would be affected. As cinemas shut down across the world amid the coronavirus outbreak, several studios have pushed to get productions out on-demand. NBCUniversal on Monday announced that current movies from its Universal Pictures slate, including Trolls World Tour, The Hunt and The Invisible Man, as well as Focus Features' Emma, will be made available on demand day-and-date with their regular release in whatever theaters still remain open. Sky Germany, the country's leading pay TV provider, has said it will offer the Universal titles on demand to its subscribers. But a shutdown of dubbing operations could delay future on-demand rollouts if productions are not already synchronized into multiple languages for release. (Hollywood Reporter)

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