Theater Owners Implore Congress For More Aid To Cinemas

AMC movie theatre
A shuttered AMC Theatre in New York City's Flatiron District. Mega Agency

With Disney already having erased two big movies from the holiday schedule, Free Guy and Death on the Nile, and Warner Bros. expected to punt its Christmas Day release of Wonder Woman 1984, movie theaters really don’t know how they’re going to be able to weather the next few months of the pandemic.

The National Association of Theatre Owners today urged Congress and Donald Trump’s administration to pass relief legislation for exhibition — which, according to their stats, has 96% of all cinemas reporting over 70% in losses this year.

“American movie theaters need help now,” NATO President & CEO John Fithian said in a statement. “Soon, a vaccine will allow our industry to return to normal, but without bipartisan action now in the lame duck session of Congress, hundreds of movie theaters will not make it. Local communities across the nation are and will be permanently damaged. This Congress and administration still have a job to do.”

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Currently, many are waiting to see whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will meet over the $1.8 trillion-$2.2 trillion second stimulus bill that is being bandied about by Republicans and Democrats. Following that, it’s up in the air whether Trump signs off on it, as he is concerned about recounts and election trials now, or if the bill moves forward under newly elected U.S. President Joe Biden. NATO is also hitching its wagon to the “Save Our Stages” proposal, which also is calling on aid for concert halls and stadiums, as well continued aid to furloughed workers.

“Congress can save cinemas by including $15 billion for grants for independent venues in a COVID-19 relief package,” reads NATO’s release this afternoon. “The ‘Save Our Stages’ proposal is the ONLY solution that will provide the bridge that theaters need to see them into next year, when the industry has a chance at recovery.”

NATO also released a PSA today with a handful of cinema owners emphasizing the financial stain they’re suffering and how cinemas overall are diamonds for a community’s retail space, driving business. NATO also asked moviegoers to contact their senators and representatives, pushing for immediate action.

Says Paul Gunsky, owner of CineLux Theatres in Northern California in the video, “As an industry, we certainly need assistance, without that, I’m not sure we’re able to get to the other side.”

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