The National Association of Theatre Owners urged Congress again Thursday to #SaveYourCinema and pass relief for cinemas that are struggling to survive during the pandemic. The exhibition lobbyist group is asking moviegoers nationwide to urge D.C. lawmakers with a goal of reaching a half million letters sent.
Already, NATO’s #SaveYourCinema campaign has triggered 100,000 people across the country to send more than 300,000 letters to Congress in support of aid to movie theaters.
The #SaveYourCinema call follows a recent open letter to Congress signed by 93 directors, producers and writers including James Cameron, Barry Jenkins, Alma Har’el, Patty Jenkins, Christopher Nolan, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and others. The campaign urges Congress to enact multiple solutions that could help movie theaters survive this crisis, including an expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program, enacting the RESTART Act (S. 3814/H.R. 7481), and reallocating unspent money from the CARES Act toward relief programs that target cinemas of all sizes.
Here’s how the pandemic has taken its tolls on cinemas: 93% of movie theater companies had more than 75% in losses in the second quarter of 2020. Earlier this week, No. 2 U.S. circuit, Regal, was forced to close down as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo refuses to reopen cinemas. Also, San Francisco has allowed cinemas to reopen, but has banned the sale of concessions, which is the lifeblood of exhibition.
NATO says in its latest release that if this persists “69% of small and mid-sized movie theater companies will be forced to file for bankruptcy or to close permanently, and 66% of theater jobs will be lost.”
“The stark reality is that many movie theaters will not be able to open again if they don’t receive government help,” says Esther Baruh, director of government relations for NATO. “This is as urgent as it gets. The exhibition industry thrived before this pandemic and it will thrive again, but theaters and their employees need a bridge to get them to that point.”
While there’s been a push for an airline relief bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today ruled out a stand-alone bill for additional relief for that industry without a broader coronavirus relief package.
Pelosi told reporters on Thursday, “The comment that I made to the administration was: We’re happy to review what that stand-alone bill would like as part of a bigger bill, if there is a bigger bill. But there is no standalone bill.” This came after Pelosi’s recent talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday about aid for the pandemic impacted-airline industry.
Movie theater owners want Congress to provide similar relief consideration for an industry that has historically been known as part of America’s No. 1 export (movies). Theaters are a huge part of the motion picture industry echosphere, boosting jobs for those in production. The exhibition industry employs 150,000 people.