Movie theater bailout

Yesterday, NATO (the National Association of Theatre Owners) released a statement which tried to push back against speculation that Hollywood studios would fully forsake the movie theater experience because of the coronavirus and release all of their major blockbusters directly to streaming platforms. Now NATO has released another statement, this time pledging $1 million to movie theater employees who have been affected by the unprecedented closures and urging Congress for a movie theater bailout. Get the details below.

Here’s the excerpt from NATO’s press release talking about the $1 million they’re giving to movie theater employees:

The Executive Board of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) today authorized $1 million dollars drawn from the Association’s reserve to aid movie theater employees who are out of work due to movie theater closures stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. The money will be used as seed funds for an effort to help tide workers over in this crisis in cooperation with our industry partners. Details of the fund will be released shortly.

This sounds good in theory, but I’m very curious to see how it will work in practice. When those aforementioned “details” about the fund are released, we’ll be sure to update this post.

While trying to help out the employees who, in many cases, saw their hours abruptly cut down to nothing due to unprecedented movie theater shutdowns across the country, NATO is also calling on Congress for additional help. They want relief measures for the industry’s 150,000 employees, including:

  • Loan guarantees that ease a liquidity squeeze imposed by fixed costs in the face of non-existent revenues
  • Tax benefits to assist employers with providing support to employees
  • Relieving the burden of costs that are ongoing despite closures
  • Tax measures that will allow theaters recoup losses when the industry is back up and running

Whether that aid will ultimately be granted remains to be seen, but in the wake of huge rounds of closures to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus and the worst box office weekend in many years, the entire theater industry seems as if it’s hanging by a thread. Will chains like AMC, Regal, and Cinemark be able to survive being shut down for months? How many of them will still be around to reopen when this nightmare ends?

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