Movie theaters in the United States are in trouble right now. Many remain closed due to the coronavirus, and the theaters that are able to remain open don’t have much to offer. On top of that, the recent decision by Warner Bros. to drop all of their 2021 movies on HBO Max the same day as theaters is bound to cause more problems for exhibitors. But there could be a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Negotiations on a stimulus bill started up in Congress again this week, and part of that stimulus includes proposals for $15 billion for movie theaters.
I’ll try to keep political screeds to a minimum here, but it’s safe to say that Congress has majorly fucked up COVID-19 relief, and businesses across the country are in serious trouble. Especially movie theaters, which are in danger of going bankrupt. Theaters closed across the country over the spring, and while some reopened in late summer, a recent spike in coronavirus cases have caused many to shut down all over again. And while there’s a vaccine on the way, things won’t be back to normal for a few months. Simply put, theaters will not able to survive if they have to stay shut down much longer.
Thankfully for theaters, there’s renewed hope for a stimulus package. As Variety reports, negotiations on a bill were jumpstarted this week with a bipartisan group of senators offering a $908 billion plan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell talking about a plan that would involve $500 billion. Both plans include “$15 billion for live event venues and movie theaters.”
In March, the Senate passed a $2 trillion stimulus package that included a $454 billion loan guarantee fund for businesses struggling from the economic blowback of the pandemic. At the time, NATO, the National Association of Theater Owners, said:
“With this aid, movie theaters can get through this crisis confident in being able to re-open, knowing their vital, trained workforce is able to weather this pandemic and have jobs waiting for them when it is safe to reopen. We are grateful for the work of Congress and the Administration and those in and out of the entertainment industry who have supported our efforts on behalf of this industry that is so central to our culture and civic life. We look forward to its quick passage in the House and signature by the President.”
NATO had also pushed for the RESTART Act, which would’ve provided even more money for theaters. But the bill failed to gain much support. Since then, NATO joined forces with the National Independent Venue Association for the Save Our Stages bill, which has also yet to be passed.
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