Theater Owners Call on Lame-Duck Congress to Provide Immediate Relief to Cinemas

Movie Theater
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More than 95 percent of theaters have reported losses of 70 percent or more this year due to the pandemic.

The National Association of Theatre Owners on Monday called for the lame-duck Congress and Trump administration to pass relief legislation that would provide immediate aid to local movie theaters devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“American movie theaters need help now,” NATO president-CEO John Fithian said in a statement issued two days after Democratic candidate Joe Biden was declared the victor in the 2020 presidential race, beating Donald Trump. President-elect Biden won't take office until January.

"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," Fithian stated.

According to NATO, 96 percent of movie theaters have reported over 70 percent in losses in 2020. Even in places where movie theaters have reopened, reduced capacity and an anemic film slate have resulted in low attendance.

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

Theater owners also called for continued aid to furloughed workers. A sample letter and automatic contacts for individual members of Congress is available here.