'Wonder Woman' director warns theaters could vanish

It’s something no superhero powers can achieve right now – keep struggling movie theaters open. Director Patty Jenkins' new "Wonder Woman" film has been delayed three times as theater attendance in the U.S. has plummeted, and some cinemas have shut. Now Jenkins is among dozens of top Hollywood directors sounding the alarm that the future of movie-going is under real threat, warning that without government aid the century-old tradition of going to the movies could disappear from American culture. “This will not be a reversible process. We could lose movie theater-going forever.” Cineworld Group is temporarily closing Regal locations that reopened in August. And the National Association of Theatre Owners said 69% of small and mid-sized cinema companies could be forced to file for bankruptcy or shutter permanently. Jenkins said widespread closures would lead Hollywood studios to stop investing in films for theaters, and turn to streaming instead. She and other top directors are appealing to the U.S. government to provide a financial lifeline to the film community. “It would be easy for our government and for the people in America to say, ‘Why do they deserve a break? We all deserve a break.’ That’s not the point. The point is we’re talking about losing something – it’s slipping away forever. It could be the kind of thing that happened to the music industry, where you could crumble the entire industry by making it something that can't be profitable." Expensive action movies like "Wonder Woman" would be much less common on streaming, she 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 kids to watch a movie in your own living room, and not be able to take them out on a Saturday anymore, and not have a place to go for a date anymore.” Some of this year's major Hollywood films, including Walt Disney "Mulan," skipped cinemas and went straight to streaming. Jenkins said that option is not under consideration for her sequel, "Wonder Woman 1984." Her 2017 "Wonder Woman" film took in $822 million at box offices worldwide. The follow-up starring Gal Gadot as the lasso-wielding warrior is now scheduled for release by Warner Bros on Christmas Day in December. It had originally been set for last June.