U.S. movie theater owners today applauded the bipartisan COVID relief agreement that includes a $15 billion lifeline of grants to movie theaters, live entertainment venues, live theaters, and museums. The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) expressed gratitude for the tireless and unwavering bipartisan advocacy of the Save Our Stages cosponsors Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT) and Roger Williams (R-TX); Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA); Senate and House Small Business Committee Chairs Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Nydia Velazquez (D-NY); Ranking Members Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Steve Chabot (R-OH); and all the many other cosponsors on behalf of this vital cultural, community, and economic engine.
John Fithian, President and CEO of NATO, said, “With multiple vaccines beginning to roll out, we see a bright light at the end of a very dark tunnel. There is a very real chance that our business can begin to return to normal in the spring. This bipartisan agreement, shepherded by Senators Schumer, Cornyn and Klobuchar, means that the vast majority of small and mid-size U.S. movie theaters and their employees will have the resources to make it through to the end of that tunnel. We urge its immediate implementation”
Theater owners are also gratified by the extension of the Paycheck Protection Program, EIDL grants, and the additional funding for unemployment insurance. Without federal aid, NATO estimates that 70 percent of mid-size and smaller movie theaters in the country could file for bankruptcy or close permanently within months. More than 70,000 jobs could be lost permanently.
NATO continues to seek help for larger movie theater companies not covered by this legislation, which provide tens of thousands of jobs, and operate more than half the movie screens in the country, through tax relief and state aid.