Up to this point, the Criterion Collection has been best known for its boutique home-video releases, publishing “important classic and contemporary films from around the world” with new custom artwork and supplements. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the movie industry, with theaters closing down and major releases being delayed, independent movie theaters have been some of the hardest hit, and the Criterion Collection — along with Art House Convergence and Janus Films — has launched the “Art-House America” fundraiser to help provide relief.
“The Art-House America Campaign aims to provide financial relief to struggling independent cinemas across the country so they can pay staff and their essential bills and survive until it is safe to reopen their doors,” the GoFundMe page reads, citing the over 150 independent art house theaters that have closed to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The funds raised will go to support essential payments during closure, including “payroll, insurance, rent, non deferrable loans, utilities, fundraising, and mortgages.” As of the morning of April 2, the campaign has raised more than $166,000 out of a $500,000 goal.
Bigger movie chains such as AMC and Regal have also closed down due to the pandemic, and major recent releases have become available to rent digitally earlier than expected as their theatrical windows have been cut short.