NATO Hails Inclusion Of Cinemas In Proposed Relief Package; Says 70% Of U.S. Theaters Could Go Bankrupt By Year End Without Help

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The association of theater owners, NATO, called on Congress Tuesday to get an aid package approved, saying exhibitors are desperate for help.

It’s begged for help before. Now Senators Schumer, Cardin and Shaheen have included relief for movie theaters as part of the Save Our Stages initiative, which is included in the COVID relief bill being debated in Congress and pols have said they want to pass by the end of the week.

“Without such help, 70% of the theaters in the country could file for bankruptcy or close permanently by the end of the year. More than 70,000 jobs could be lost permanently. While many small business theater operators were able to access Paycheck Protection Program loans, given the duration of the pandemic, those funds have been exhausted and theater revenues are still close to nothing,” NATO said. “The current rules of the program remain challenging for theaters that are shuttered or doing little business.”

“We seek a bipartisan solution for pandemic relief now that would include these provisions to preserve moviegoing in America.”

AMC Entertainment, the world’s largest exhibitor, has said it could run out of cash by year end. Regal parent Cineworld has shuttered theaters in the U.S. and U.K. because it’s too expensive to keep them open. Theaters went dark in March and have been reopening gradually but having trouble attracting a big enough audience. People are skittish but also cinemas are still not open in New York City and Los Angeles, the nation’s two largest movie markets. That has Hollywood studios postponing big releases, meaning less product in cinemas worldwide to entice moviegoers.

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