Dear Cinema Club Member:
Thank you so much for your patience as I have attempted to figure out how best to finish our Winter/Spring 2020 Series and how to move forward with the Club in general. I do hope you all have stayed safe and healthy during this frightening and unprecedented time in our history.
As I initially communicated at the beginning of the Pandemic, and before we all really understood the severity of the situation, I had hoped to be able to make a quick return to the cinema. However, as time marched on and things got much worse, and a health crisis that was never properly addressed became a political crisis, I’ve realized that we are not going to be able to return anytime soon.
Now with even more information about the dangerous ways COVID-19 is transmitted and with actual financial data regarding re-opened movie theaters, I have a better sense of the overall landscape. I’m very afraid to say that I think it’s a worst-case scenario here in the United States and it has some very challenging implications for the immediate future of both our special film society and the industry as a whole.
We now know that COVID is much more easily spread indoors, that aerosols can linger in the air, especially if that air is not properly circulated, that proximity to an infected person for an extended period of time is dangerous, and that citizens over the age of 65 are most especially at risk for severe illness if infected. This reality has forced many cinemas to stay closed (either by choice or by a local government’s authority) and others that have re-opened are operating with strict capacity guidelines and very limited hours of operation. Business has been so slow that many theaters have closed again and distributors have continued to choose to move bigger films back to later in the year, or next year, or even further. And bigger doesn’t just mean the next Avengers or James Bond movie, it also means the bigger specialty films. Commercial theaters and Art theaters rely on a pipeline of movies opening weekly, not just one new film a week or two decent films a season.
A few of the theaters where we have Club chapters have reopened, but none has presented me with a way to safely meet in person. And even if we could do something as extreme as spreading our membership over 6 auditoriums in a single complex or over 4 different meeting days for a single film, finding a distributor willing to give us films to screen in this economic environment (and with that set of criteria) would be very hard.
I do hope we can eventually return safely to our theaters, but I think it will be best for now to complete the current season virtually.
For those that choose to join our virtual club and opt in, we will arrange for four new movies to be screened online and for zoom discussions to be held at no cost to current members (recall please that in each city we had already had three in-person meetings out of the seven). If you do not wish to join our virtual version of the Cinema Club you can choose to keep a full credit toward our next in-person season, or request a partial refund.
After you’ve read this letter, please return to the new COVID page of our website and fill out the questionnaire fully so we know your preference. We will be mailing a copy of this letter and questionnaire to members we do not hear from by Friday, October 23. Some members have difficulty getting our emails so thanks for reaching out to friends in the Club to let them know to visit this webpage to fill out the questionnaire. We’d love to have responses from our members by November 15 so we know how best to plan for the virtual program.
While a virtual version of our special Cinema Club is far from ideal, I do hope a majority of you will decide to join and stay a part of the group. The independent film industry has been very creative in organizing events around online movies - I’ve been involved in several myself - and I know we can find a few engaging movies and organize excellent conversations. Certainly you will see familiar faces leading our post-film conversations!
Thank you again for your patience and for filling out the questionnaire. Please continue to stay safe and I hope to virtually see many of you soon!
Owner, The Cinema Club