As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic wears on and movie theaters remain shuttered, the future of big-screen moviegoing becomes more uncertain. Streaming and digital platforms have never been more popular, box office charts have never been so low, and with more studios pushing the video-on-demand debuts of their theatrical releases, there’s the possibility that movie theaters could slide into obscurity.
But not on Edgar Wright‘s watch. The Baby Driver director put out a plea to movie lovers to save their favorite local cinemas. While the CDC recommendation against gatherings of 50-plus people, and subsequent government restrictions, prevents us from actually seeing movies at the theater, there are other ways for cinephiles to support movie theaters, Wright says.
In an essay for Empire Magazine, Wright wrote that now, more than ever, is the time for movie lovers to support their favorite local cinemas. While the ongoing pandemic prevents audiences from actually going to the theater, Wright says that cinephiles can support theaters by buying gift cards or memberships:
“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.”
Wright acknowledged that this was “not a luxury that everyone can afford,” but added that those who can afford it 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.”
With Universal’s potentially game-changing decision to release its major animated release Trolls World Tour digitally on the same day-and-date as its theatrical premiere, and studios following in quick succession to release their theatrical films early on VOD, the movie theater experience is more in danger than ever before. The industry was already being disrupted with the rise of streaming giants like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, and the coronavirus pandemic may make theater-going even less appealing to everyone in quarantine currently binge-watching away. But Wright will continue to fight for the theatrical experience, just as his Shaun of the Dead stars will release a PSA to discourage people from going outside.
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