In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Alamo Drafthouse has put together a $2 million emergency relief fund for staff members who were furloughed, Variety has learned exclusively. The reserve extends to those who work in company headquarters and corporate-owned venues.
Alamo Drafthouse closed 40 locations earlier this week, over half of which are corporate-owned. The remaining multiplexes are franchises and will rely on independent resources to handle the closures.
Theater chains across the country, including AMC Theatres, Regal Cinemas, and Cinemark, had to shutter for an indefinite period of time to lower risk of spreading coronavirus. Starting last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that public gatherings involving more than 50 people be called off for the next eight weeks. Along with movie theaters, the restrictions extend to bars and sit-down restaurants.
Approximately 80% of Alamo’s corporate staff, along with almost all theater employees, were furloughed, with only a few core employees remaining. Furloughed team members who work for corporate-owned locations will receive a supplemental two weeks’ pay, and their health coverage will be covered through the end of April.
In an effort to aid staff members who have critical short-term needs, Alamo Drafthouse co-founders Tim and Karrie League set up a relief fun in partnership with the Emergency Assistance Foundation and contributed $2 million dollars from their Alamo Community Fund. The endowment is also accepting larger donations from studio partners, suppliers and other organizations. Applications for staff members who qualify will open next week.
“We’re doing everything we can to help get our teams through the furlough period while making certain there will be a stable company to return to,” Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League said in a statement.
He added, “The coronavirus pandemic is an existential threat to all cinema, but particularly independent and arthouse theaters. That’s why I’m asking for our friends and partners in the film and hospitality industries — if you believe companies like ours are vital to the welfare and strength of your businesses, please help us keep our people safe, strong, and ready to get back to work.”
Alamo Drafthouse also paused membership and monthly billing of all active Season Pass subscribers, the chain’s monthly subscription plan. It will resume payments once theaters reopen. Season Pass members, as well as new members, can opt-in to resume their account and donate their fee to the Alamo Drafthouse Fund during closures.