With thousands of theaters shut down across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic, filmmaker Christopher Nolan urges people to show their support when they reopen. In an essay for The Washington Post, Nolan calls movie theaters a “vital part of social life” that not only provides entertainment for everyone, but also jobs for many people.

Nolan, whose new movie “Tenet” is due July 17, has always preferred the traditional theatrical experience over streaming. He was once critical of Netflix, saying their straight-to-subscriber process was “mindless,” but later apologized and called the streaming giant “revolutionary” in an interview with Variety.

“As Congress considers applications for assistance from all sorts of affected businesses, I hope that people are seeing our exhibition community for what it really is: a vital part of social life,” he wrote. “These are places of joyful mingling where workers serve up stories and treats to the crowds that come to enjoy an evening out with friends and family. As a filmmaker, my work can never be complete without those workers and the audiences they welcome.”

Movie theater owners around the country are hoping that Congress takes emergency measures to give financial relief for the industry. The National Association of Theatre Owners has asked for loan guarantees to help cover costs while no tickets are being sold and for tax benefits to give support to employees.

“The past few weeks have been a reminder, if we needed one, that there are parts of life that are far more important than going to the movies. But, when you consider what theaters provide, maybe not so many as you might think,” Nolan wrote.

With thousands of theaters closed, several studios have released their films early on digital platforms or streaming services. Most notably, Disney added “Frozen 2” to Disney Plus three months ahead of schedule, and other films from this year, like “Sonic the Hedgehog,” “The Way Back” and “Birds of Prey,” will be available by the end of the month.

“When this crisis passes, the need for collective human engagement, the need to live and love and laugh and cry together, will be more powerful than ever,” Nolan wrote. “The combination of that pent-up demand and the promise of new movies could boost local economies and contribute billions to our national economy. We don’t just owe it to the 150,000 workers of this great American industry to include them in those we help, we owe it to ourselves. We need what movies can offer us.”