September 30, 2020
A movie theater group, the Motion Picture Association of America, Directors Guild of America and dozens of filmmakers have sent a joint letter to leaders of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives asking for leftover fiscal assistance from the CARES Act be redirected to exhibitors.
In the letter addressed to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), among others, the National Association of Theatre Owners said more than 280 million people went to the movie theater in 2019. With the coronavirus shuttering theaters worldwide in mid-March, NATO said 93% of movie theaters suffered 75% fiscal losses in the second quarter of 2020.
Exhibitors had hoped that Warner Bros.’ Labor Day theatrical release, Tenet, would bring moviegoers back. And the movie has — internationally. But domestically, the film has sputtered since its $20.2 million opening weekend.
NATO said that if the theater closures continue, 69% of small and mid-sized movie theater companies will be forced to file for bankruptcy or to close permanently, and 66% of theater jobs will be lost.
“Our country cannot afford to lose the social, economic, and cultural value that theaters provide,” read the letter. “Movie theaters are in dire straits, and we urge you to redirect unallocated funds from the CARES Act to proposals that help businesses that have suffered the steepest revenue drops due to the pandemic, or to enact new proposals such as the RESTART Act (S. 3814/H.R. 7481).”
The trade group said that absent a fiscal solution, theaters may not survive the impact of the pandemic.
“Please fight for our country’s beloved and essential cinemas by including relief for them in any forthcoming COVID-19 legislation,” read the letter.