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    Updated on May 30, 2020. Posted on May 28, 2020

    Here's How You Can Support Your Local Independent Theater Right Now

    A few things you can do to make sure these vibrant film communities stay alive and well in the turbulent months ahead.

    With the nation on lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, more and more reports are beginning to surface of movie theaters struggling to keep the lights on. AMC let go of 26,000 employees (including furloughs of all 600 corporate staffers) back in March — and, for perspective, that's the country's largest theater chain. Now imagine the toll of the pandemic on an independent theater equipped with far fewer resources.

    Without humans to fill seats and staff concessions, these theaters operating on a shoestring budget have been forced to get even thriftier to ensure a future. This has taken on a few forms, most notably with the emergence of virtual screening rooms; many have partnered with film distributors (or set up screening rooms of their own) to allow people to stream recent releases right from the comfort of their homes.

    Others have encouraged filmgoers to continue their support by purchasing gift cards, signing up for a membership plan, making a direct donation, ordering some "non-GMO, vegan, dairy-free, nut-free" popcorn for delivery, or submitting home videos of their cats. Below are a few things you can do to make sure these vibrant film communities stay alive and well in the turbulent months ahead.

    1. Sign up for a virtual screening room.

    A24

    So, you've streamed movies on Amazon Prime and iTunes before. Using a virtual screening room will feel no different — just select the movie that interests you and pay a fraction of standard ticket pricing for access to a handful of exclusive theatrical releases that have yet to hit major streaming platforms. Plus: Occasional director Q&As for curious minds who'd like to know more about what they just consumed. A percentage of revenue (often 100%) from each title you stream will go directly to the independent theater of your choosing. Here are a handful of participating theaters you can sign up with:

    Acme Screening Room (Lambertville, N.J.)

    AFI Silver (Silver Spring, Md.)

    Alamo Drafthouse Cinema (23 locations)

    Anthology Film Archives (New York City, N.Y.)

    Art House Cinema & Pub* (Billings, Mont.)

    The Avalon (Washington, D.C.)

    The Bama Theatre (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)

    Bear Tooth Theatrepub & Grill (Anchorage, Alaska; also offering curbside grill menu)

    Belcourt Theatre (Nashville, Tenn.; also offering seminars and Q&As, virtual watch parties, and "Living Room Film Club")

    The Boedecker Theater (Boulder, Colo.; also offering Inside/Out Virtual Variety Show)

    The Broad Theater (New Orleans, La.)

    Broadway Metro (Eugene, Ore.; also offering popcorn and beer delivery)

    Capitol Theater (Arlington, Mass.)

    Capri Theatre (Montgomery, Ala.)

    Ciné Athens (Athens, Ga.)

    Cinema Art Theater (Rehoboth Beach, Del.)

    Cinema Arts Centre (Huntington, N.Y.; also offering virtual trivia nights)

    Cinema Center (Fort Wayne, Ind.; also offering Shack Wacky Film Festival)

    Circle Cinema (Tulsa, Okla.)

    Cleveland Cinemas (5 locations)

    Colonial Theater (Belfast, Maine)

    Coolidge Corner Theatre (Brookline, Mass.)

    Crest Theatre (Sacramento, Calif.)

    Des Moines Film Society (Des Moines, Iowa)

    Digital Gym Cinemas (San Diego, Calif.)

    Enzian Theater (Maitland, Fla.)

    Facets (Chicago, Ill.; also offering virtual workshops)

    Film at Lincoln Center (New York City, N.Y.)

    Film Forum (New York City, N.Y.)

    Filmbar (Phoenix, Ariz.)

    Fine Arts Theater (Asheville, N.C.)

    The Flicks (Boise, Idaho)

    The Frida Cinema (Santa Ana, Calif.)

    Gold Town Nickelodeon (Juneau, Ala.)

    The Grand Cinema (Tacoma, Wash.)

    The Grand Illusion (Seattle, Wash.)

    IFC Center (New York City, N.Y.; also offering first full digital edition of Human Rights Watch Film Festival)

    Jean Cocteau Cinema (Santa Fe, N.M.; also offering book delivery)

    Laemmle (8 locations)

    Lark Theater (Larkspur, Calif.)

    Liberty Hall Cinema (Lawrence, Kan.; also offering curbside concessions)

    The Loft Cinema (Tucson, Ariz.; also offering curbside concessions)

    Mary D. Fisher Theatre (Sedona, Ariz.)

    Michigan State Theater (Ann Arbor, Mich.; also offering curbside concessions and Zoom cocktail parties)

    Midtown Cinema (Harrisburg, Pa.; also offering online discussions and watch parties)

    Milwaukee Film (Milwaukee, Wis.)

    Minor Theatre (Arcata, Calif.)

    Museum of the Moving Image (Astoria, N.Y.)

    Music Box Theater (Chicago, Ill.)

    Naro Expanded Cinema (Norfolk, Va.)

    Northwest Film Center (Portland, Ore.; also offering film and new media happy hours)

    Northwest Film Forum (Seattle, Wash.)

    Plaza Theatre* (Atlanta, Ga.; also offering drive-in viewings and Quarantine Film Festival)

    Princeton Garden Theatre (Princeton, N.J.)

    Ragtag Cinema (Columbia, Mo.)

    Red River Theatres (Concord, N.H.)

    Roxie Theater (San Francisco, Calif.)

    Robinson Film Center* (Shreveport, La.; also offering curbside grill menu, family matinee, Film 101, Summer Film Camp, and Dinner & Movie With Chef Tootie)

    Ruth Sokolof Theater (Omaha, Neb.)

    Salt Lake Film Society (Salt Lake City, Utah)

    Shotgun Cinema (New Orleans, La.)

    Showroom (Asbury Park, Bradley Beach, N.J.)

    SIFF (Seattle, Wash.)

    Sidewalk Cinema (Birmingham, Ala.; also offering curbside concessions, drive-in viewings, and Sidewalk Film Festival)

    Sie FilmCenter (Denver, Colo.; also offering curbside concessions)

    The State Theatre (Modesto, Calif.)

    Sun-Ray Cinema* (Jacksonville, Fla.; also offering private rentals)

    Suns (Washington, D.C.)

    Syndicated (Brooklyn, N.Y.; also offering takeout and delivery menu)

    Tampa Theatre (Tampa, Fla.)

    Violet Crown (3 locations)

    Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center* (New Orleans, La.)

    *denotes theater has reopened to public in limited capacity

    Alternatively, you can search by film distributor to find a specific film and a participating theater offering it.

    Among them: Bleecker Street, Distrib Films, Film Movement, Grasshopper Film, Kino Lorber, Magnolia Pictures, Music Box Films, Oscilloscope

    2. Buy a gift card.

    Envelope containing Metrograph gift card
    Metrograph

    For select theaters not available through virtual screenings, your best bet might be to throw some dollars at a gift card which you can use when theaters open back up to the public (and you feel comfortable enough attending them). Greg Laemmle, president of Laemmle Theatres, told the Los Angeles Times that gift cards are like "an interest-free loan." Here are just a few beloved theaters not connected to virtual screening rooms you might consider giving an interest-free loan to:

    Angelika Film Center (6 locations)

    Avon Cinema (Providence, R.I.)

    Clayton Theatre (Dagsboro, Del.; also offering curbside concessions)

    Fleur Cinema & Cafe (Des Moines, Iowa)

    Hollywood Theater (Portland, Ore.)

    The Kress Cinema (Greeley, Colo.; also offering curbside concessions)

    Metrograph (New York City, N.Y.)

    Nitehawk Cinema (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

    Kentucky Theater (Lexington, Ky.)

    Prospector Theater (Ridgefield, Conn.)

    3. Donate directly.

    A24

    Maybe you're realizing it's going to be a long time before you feel comfortable stepping foot in a movie theater again and using a gift card. Fair! There is nothing wrong with erring on the side of caution (unless you have no intention of supporting these places through other means, that is). The easiest, most nonsense way to make an impact is by donating directly through your favorite theater's website. Take a moment and locate the "donate" tab. If there isn't one? Track down the theater's contact info and reach out to the staff about how you can best assist them during this time.

    4. Donate to a foundation or through GoFundMe.

    A GoFundMe page showing The World Theater and $832,088 raised
    GoFundMe

    Art-House America Campaign

    In conjunction with Criterion Collection, Janus Films, a star-studded group of organizing directors and creatives (including Alexander Payne, Greta Gerwig, Wes Anderson, Lulu Wang, and Barry Jenkins), Art House Convergence was able to raise over $800,000 in grants for art house theaters across the nation. While the GoFundMe page has now closed, Art House Convergence continues to accept donations from anyone who wishes to support independent theaters during this time of crisis.

    Cinema Worker Solidarity Fund

    Thanks to Light Industry, Screen Slate, and other community partners, the Cinema Worker Solidarity Fund was able to successfully hit its GoFundMe campaign goal of $74,000 in March, focusing their attention on New York City movie theater workers who were laid off or furloughed due to the coronavirus pandemic. You can follow their Twitter to learn about new ways to give back and support the cause now that donations have closed.

    Film at Lincoln Center Emergency Fund

    New York's "home for cinema since 1969" is calling upon its loyal cinema community to donate any dollar amount they feel comfortable with, and will be using the donations to offset the financial impact of closures. Donations are fully tax-deductible.

    Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Assistance Fund

    This long-standing foundation is turning its attention to movie theater workers affected by coronavirus-related closures, offering $300 grants to those who've worked five-plus years in exhibition. By donating to the fund, you can help expand their mission.

    Didn't see the one you were looking for included above? Tell us the name and location of your favorite independent theater and how people can support them during this time. We'll continue to update this list as comments come in.

    A24