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Margot Robbie supporting a movie theater

The hardest part of the global quarantine, from a strictly entertainment point of view, is that it takes away our first choice for distraction in times of stress. Personally, the movies are an escape when things get difficult, and I anticipate a trip to my local theater more than anything, giving me a light at the end of most tunnels because at least I know a movie is in my future.

We will soon be back to a normal routine when it comes to our movie-going habits, as society flattens the curve and figures out a way to return to the way things were prior to the coronavirus outbreak. But in the short term, we have learned that there’s even a way you can support your local, beloved movie theater during a time of closure: Buy gift cards.

The thing about movie theaters is that there’s no way, at the moment, for them to adjust their business model to still fit the needs of customers. Across the nation, restaurants (for example) are figuring out ways to convert to take-out service to maintain a portion of their revenue. Movie theaters, however, need customers to come to them, while also needing first-run movies to be able to show. That equation isn’t possible right now, but Phil Contrino, the Director of Media and Research for the National Association of Theater Owners, recently told our ReelBlend podcast how film fans can show support for theaters, while also planning for future nights at the cinema:

I think all the chains, and all the mom-and-pop theaters are doing a lot already to reach out to their customers who are able to support them during this time, and encourage ways to support them. In the end, the biggest thing that I’m hearing from our members is buy gift cards. If you’re able to support movie theaters right now, the biggest thing you can do is buy a gift card. That’s money that’s coming in to them. And when they open again, there you go, you’ve got your gift card, and you can go to the movies. And it means a lot during this difficult time.

Investing in the future of your local movie theater is important right now. Even something as simple as voicing your support for the theater-going experience on social media can make a difference. To that end, Phil Contrino of NATO also elaborated on a marketing initiative supported by movie theater companies, and the moviemaking industry:

We’ve been encouraging filmmakers to use the hashtag #SupportMovieTheaters. We’re building momentum behind that. And a lot of our members are starting to use it now when they’re posting positive things about the industry coming back and things returning to normal. If you want your support known for movie theaters and you do something like buy a gift card or donate to a theater in your area that’s a nonprofit theater or an arthouse theater, share with people on social media and use that hashtag. Just to generally help the groundswell of support that’s already starting to build.

Listen to our full conversation with Phil Contrino of NATO about the current state of movie theaters, and what he predicts for the future of the industry.

There’s good news for theaters on the horizon. According to a release by NATO, they were included in the government stimulus package recently announced to aid businesses that were forced to close, which will allow chains and small businesses the chance to pay employees who are out of work due to the coronavirus restrictions.

We will continue to maintain the progress of theaters during this global crisis.