NATO Applauds Senate Stimulus Package: “Movie Theaters Can Get Through This Crisis…& Re-Open”

Breaking News, coronavirus, Coronavirus Box Office, Exhibition, Film News, NATO, Politics

In advance of the Senate’s passage of the $2 trillion relief bill, The National Association of Theatre Owners already is celebrating the agreement as a big win for movie theaters, particularly the $454B loan guarantee fund which will help cinemas get by on their fixed costs as local and state governments force a shutdown out of safety due to the coronavirus over the next few months.

Sources tell me that small mom-and-pop theaters should not be receiving the short end of the stick here in favor of big exhibition. There are different tiers of distressed industries in the relief package: one that will take care of the big-boy circuits, and another that’s more in favor of the little guys, i.e. “Expanded SBA programs that will allow small businesses – the vast majority of theater companies – to do the same, with several categories of expenses eligible for loan forgiveness.” It’s to my understanding that in certain cases, these loans will wind up working like grants for some smaller businesses. Time will tell how this all shakes out.

Of great concern to NATO, and of course movie theaters, is that when it’s time to re-open, there’s still a business — that they have the ability to re-open.

Meanwhile, those cinema workers laid off or furloughed, can see up to four months of direct aid through extended and expanded unemployment insurance. Today, AMC furloughed their corporate office, including its CEO Adam Aron, on a tiered payment structure.

Below is NATO’s statement:

We applaud the bipartisan agreement reached in the Senate today to provide relief to movie theaters their employees and so many other public-facing
industries that have had to close their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With this agreement, movie theaters can look forward with confidence to re-opening and once again serving their communities when this crisis has passed.

While some details remain to be worked out, the broad provisions of the agreement help movie theaters and their workers in so many ways.

–A $454 billion loan guarantee fund provides access to capital allowing movie theaters and other businesses to pay their fixed costs while they are unable to generate revenue through normal operations.

–Expanded SBA programs that will allow small businesses – the vast majority of theater companies – to do the same, with several categories of expenses eligible for loan forgiveness.

–Provisions allowing deferral of payroll taxes, expanded opportunity for loss carrybacks for businesses, and technical corrections regarding qualified improvement property.

–Employee retention tax credit for businesses that keep people on the payroll despite closures or that see large sales losses.

— Up to four months of direct aid to workers through extended and expanded unemployment insurance, including increases in the weekly dollar amount and eligibility for part-time employees.

— Advanced tax deductions to workers payable now.

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.

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