Article: An open letter from indie cinemas

In the wake of most multiplex chains temporarily closing or reducing their operating hours, a number of independent cinemas have penned an open letter to studios, distributors and industry partners.

Dear Industry Colleagues,

We, the undersigned, are a group of the country’s independent cinemas. We are charities, social enterprises, and small businesses. We are a vital part of the night-time economy and our local communities.

Many of the cinemas listed below are over 100 years old. We have overcome numerous challenges in our history, the 1918 flu pandemic, the Blitz, the rise of television, VHS, DVD and VOD but, without support from our colleagues, we will not make it through the next six months and many of the UK’s great cultural institutions will be lost.

As exhibitors, we have taken exhaustive measures to ensure the safety of our staff and customers. To date, there are no recorded cases of Covid 19 infections being spread in cinemas within the UK. The month of September saw 2.6 million visits to the cinema in the UK. Social distancing has reduced capacity in our cinemas by two thirds and box office takings are down by around 60%, but this need not spell the end for cinemas.

Prior to lockdown we had enjoyed one the most successful quarters in recent history, with films like Parasite, 1917 and Little Women bringing in record audiences for us. Independent cinemas had been thriving and we believe they will again when social distancing restrictions are lifted. In order to survive until then, we need a steady stream of films and a unified message that cinema is safe and here to stay.

Many of the studios who have been our partners for decades, have decided to delay the releases of major features and, as a result, major chains have taken the decision to close and thousands of jobs within our industry are now at risk. We urge those industry partners to consider the full impact of these decisions. New releases will categorically not generate the kind of revenue they would have a year ago, but if we wait for life to return to normal all our cinemas will be gone.  

We are committed to remaining open and believe it is essential to the industry and the British economy that we continue to operate in these challenging times. We need to support quality British films such as Rocks, Saint Maud, Mogul Mowgli and Summerland, many of which have been supported by public money through BFI from the National Lottery, but we also need all distributors to stick to their release commitments so we can navigate our way through the next six months.

We wish to thank the BFI and DCMS for their support through the Culture Recovery Fund for Independent Cinemas, this will be integral to our survival through this period.

We must pull together as a whole to promote cinema as a safe experience and, of course, as the best way to watch a film. Otherwise, we will see irreversible damage to our industry.

We call upon those studios, distributors, and industry partners, with whom we have shared so many successful and hugely profitable films, not to forget us in our time of need.

Please support our cinemas. #supportcinema

Yours sincerely

  • Oliver Meek – Rio Cinema Dalston 
  • Rosie Greatorex – The Lexi Cinema 
  • Negede Assefa – Rich Mix  
  • Jason Wood – Home  
  • Sam Neophytou – ArtHouse Crouch End 
  • Tyrone Walker-Hebborn – Genesis Cinema Whitechapel, East London. 
  • Billy Watson – Regent Street Cinema 
  • Jelena Milosavljevic – Phoenix Cinema East Finchley 
  • Carmen Slijpen – Depot Cinema 
  • Rebekah Fozard – Hebden Bridge Picture House  
  • Jack Paterson – JW3 Cinema
  • Sam Lavington—Stafford Cinema
  • Jenny Leask – Mareel, Shetland
  • Anna Navas – Plymouth Arts Cinema
  • Ruth Carter – Kinokulture, Oswestry
  • Tom Jowett – The Ultimate Picture Palace, Oxford
  • Victoria Rhodes – The Phoenix Cinema, Orkney
  • Lee Nabbs – The Mockingbird Cinema, Birmingham
  • Kelly Jeffs – Light House, Wolverhampton
  • Allison Gardner – Glasgow Film Theatre
  • Gareth Negus, Electric Picture House Cinema Ltd
  • Ali Donkin – The Barn Cinema, Dartington
  • Dan Ellis – Jam Jar Cinema
  • Rebecca del Tufo – Saffron Screen and Royston Picture Palace
  • Adam J Marsh – QUAD, Derby
  • Josh Senior – The Northern Light Cinema
  • Jake Harvey – Phoenix, Leicester
  • Michael Lockwood, Andy Harrison, Phil Pierce, Lewis Simpson – Southport Bijou Cinema
  • Wendy Cook – The Hyde Park Picture House, Leeds 
  • Caroline Hennigan – Broadway, Nottingham
  • Ian Wild – Showroom Cinema, Sheffield
  • David Shaw – Waterfront Cinema, Greenock. Studio Cinema, Dunoon
  • Natalys Willcox – The Poly Falmouth
  • Karen O’Neill – The Dukes, Lancaster
  • Daniel Champion – Ipswich Film Theatre  
  • Alice Black – Dundee Contemporary Arts
  • Chris Ashton – The Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal
  • Sarah Gilbert – Gloucester Guildhall 
  • Paul Vickery – Prince Charles Cinema
  • Sofia Mellander – Prince Charles Cinema, London 
  • Georgia Milner – Ilkley Cinema
  • David Nixon – Forum Cinema Hexham
  • Owen Van Spall – Riverside Studios 
  • Mark Cosgrove – Watershed, Bristol 
  • Philip Howard – David Lean Cinema, Croydon 
  • Dee & Ash – The Castle Cinema, Hackney 

To sign the open letter, please click here. 

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