The Wonder Woman director warns that movie-going might disappear

(Reuters) – Patty Jenkins’ new Wonder Woman movie has been postponed three times during the coronavirus pandemic. Now, the director is sounding the alarm that taking movies himself is under real threat.

Jenkins is among dozens of top Hollywood directors appealing to the US government to provide financial rescue for cinemas. Without it, he warned, the century-old tradition of going to the movies could disappear from American culture.

Patty Jenkins

“If we shut this down, this will not be a reversible process,” she said in an interview from her home in Los Angeles. “We could lose a movie theater forever.”

While theater attendance has rebounded in some countries following a global closure in March, the US market is struggling. Cineworld Group Plc is temporarily closing Regal locations that reopened in August. The National Association of Theater Owners said 69% of small and medium-sized cinema companies could be forced to file for bankruptcy or shutdown permanently.

Jenkins said a widespread closure would lead Hollywood studios to stop investing in films for theaters, and turn to streaming instead.

“It could be the kind of thing that happened to the music industry,” he said, “where you could crush the whole industry by making it something that may not be profitable.”

Expensive action films like “Wonder Woman” would be far less common in streaming, he said, and audiences would miss out on the experience of watching on a big screen in a large group.

“I don’t think any of us want to live in a world where the only option is to take your children to watch a movie in your own living room,” he said, “and not having a place to go for a date. ”

Some of Hollywood’s big films this year, including Walt Disney Co.’s Mulan, skipped cinemas and went straight to streaming. Jenkins said that option is not being considered for her sequel, Wonder Woman 1984. Her 2017 film Wonder Woman took $ 822 million at box offices worldwide.

The sequel with Gal Gadot as the lasso-wielding warrior is now scheduled for release by Warner Bros AT&T Inc. on Christmas Day in December. It was originally set for June.

Jenkins said she is watching the progress of the pandemic and hopes Wonder Woman can lead a return to cinemas that give people an escape from reality.

“I really hope we can be one of the first to come back and bring that into everyone’s life,” he said.