March 22, 2020
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says lawmakers in Congress have a “fundamental understanding” of a proposed coronavirus stimulus bill that could generate up to $4 trillion in economic liquidity for big and small businesses and families.
For movie theaters, production companies, studios and retailers in the entertainment industry, the fiscal lifeline could spell relief for thousands of idled workers due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. For exhibitors, the stimulus in the form of government-back loans could mean the difference between staying in business and bankruptcy.
“Only the [federal] government is going to provide that [kind of funding],” AMC Theatres CEO Adam Aron told CNN last week.
Speaking March 24 on Fox News, Mnuchin said he believes congressional leaders on both sides of the partisan divide could vote on the massive proposal as early as March 23.
“I do think it will get done,” he said. “We’ve been working around the clock in the Senate with Republicans and Democrats. I’ve been speaking to the [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell, [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer, House Speaker [Nancy Pelosi], and I think we have a fundamental understanding and we look forward to wrapping it up today.”
Specifically, the bill includes two weeks of immediate cash for small businesses to retain employees and enhanced unemployment benefits. The stimulus is designed to assist for the next 10 to 12 weeks. Mnuchin said the Trump Administration would be back to Congress in 10 weeks looking for more money if the coronavirus was still an issue.
Netflix has established a $100 million fund to support idled workers on proprietary and third-party productions. The National Association of Theatre Owners has culled together $1 million for hourly workers out of a job due the theater shutdown.
Disney on March 20 Walt said it plans to raise $6 billion from the sale of debt securities due to ongoing business risks across its operating segments due to the coronavirus.