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Christopher Nolan and Steve McQueen Sign Open Letter Asking for UK Cinema Support

Some of the industry's most prominent figures have called on the government to do more for larger cinema chains

Some of the biggest names in the UK film industry, including Christopher Nolan, Steve McQueen, Barbara Broccoli, Lynne Ramsay, Paul Greengrass, and Edgar Wright, have signed an open letter calling for more government funding for UK cinemas.

In a letter addressed to the Chancellor, more than 40 prominent directors, actors, and producers rallied together to draw attention to the fact that “UK cinema stands on the edge of an abyss… urgently needing targeted funding support to ensure that future generations can enjoy the magic of cinema.”

It’s no secret that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has proven catastrophic for the film industry, both in the UK and around the world. Earlier this month, the UK Cinema Association revealed that Coronavirus restrictions in 2020 had resulted in a massive 76% drop in total box office revenue, compared to 2019. Interestingly, the first two months of 2020 had seen cinema-going numbers at some of their highest since 1970.

Most of 2020’s major blockbuster releases, including Dune, No Time to Die, Mulan and Wonder Woman 1984 – were either postponed indefinitely or sent straight to streaming giants such as HBO Max and Disney+. Whilst some cinemas, primarily independents, offered watch at home initiatives in order to bring in some revenue, many have been struck hard by the studios' decision to send films straight to VOD.

The letter specifically calls for more support for the country’s larger, commercial cinema chains. We know that the Culture Recovery Fund provided grants to small independents, but it’s the larger cinema operators (which represent 80% of the market) that have been left with little financial aid. The letter highlights the importance of these chains, which “help to drive the success of associated sectors such as film distribution and production coalesce.”

The film industry figures involved in this call out have warned that, without the ensured success of commercial cinema chains, “the future of the entire UK film industry looks extremely precarious.” If 2020 has taught us anything, it's that cinema is more necessary than ever. We can only hope this letter goes a long way in convincing the right people of its importance in a pandemic-stricken world.

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