U.S. Theaters joined theaters all around the world this week in temporarily closing their doors amidst the growing coronavirus outbreak. This is an unprecedented situation in this country and these businesses are being heavily impacted by the closure, with some possibly unable to wether the storm. Now, the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) is calling upon the government to step up.

In a release published to NATO's official website, the organization called on Congress and/or the White House for a bailout. NATO is specifically requesting loan guarantees, tax benefits, relief for the burden of ongoing costs and tax measures that will allow theaters to recoup losses once this is all over. The group had this to say about their requests in a statement.

"The business model of the movie theater industry is uniquely vulnerable in the present crisis. As we confront this evolving and unprecedented period, we call on Congress and the Administration to ensure that America's movie theater industry and its tens of thousands of employees across the country can remain resilient."

AMC Theatres, Regal Cinemas, Cinemark and the Alamo Drafthouse, the nation's largest chains, all closed their doors following a recommendation from the White House that people avoid gatherings of ten or more people. AMC and other chains had been doing staggered seating to allow for social distancing, but that became untenable once the recommendation from the administration came down.

Even before the closure, major titles such as No Time to Die, Mulan, A Quiet Place: Part II and F9, amongst others, had their release dates delayed as the box office around the world ground to a halt. Plus, most theater chains suffered great losses in value as the stock market has been particularly volatile during the COVID-19 crisis. In addition to calling for the bailout, NATO also is providing $1 million to help movie theater employees who are out of work for the time being.

"Additionally, the Executive Board of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) today authorized $1 million dollars drawn from the Association's reserve to aid movie theater employees who are out of work due to movie theater closures stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. The money will be used as seed funds for an effort to help tide workers over in this crisis in cooperation with our industry partners. Details of the fund will be released shortly."

It still isn't known how long theaters will be shut down. AMC, upon announcing its temporary closure, said that they expected to be closed for six to 12 weeks. That amount of time could be crippling for any business. Meanwhile, the studio side of the movie business is also struggling to adapt to the situation as movies aren't bringing in money at the box office and productions have been delayed around the world. We'll be sure to keep you posted as the situation develops. This news comes to us from National Association of Theatre Owners.

Ryan Scott at Movieweb
Ryan Scott