The National Association of Theatre Owners, the exhibition industry’s main lobbying group, has announced moviegoers have sent more than 200,000 letters to Congress in support of legislative relief measures for cinemas.
NATO used the social media tag #SaveYourCinema to enlist movie patrons to urge Congress to enact the Restart Act to give movie theaters access to partially forgivable seven-year loans covering six months of expenses. The legislation,introduced in early July by Reps. Jared Golden (D-Me) and Mike Kelly (R-Pa), is aimed at providing relief to cinemas, theaters, live music venues and performing artists, restaurants, recreational businesses, and health and fitness clubs.
Movie theaters in the United States have been mostly closed down since mid-March. Currently, less than 1,000 sites are open, including more than 250 drive-ins. AMC Theatres, the nation’s largest chain with more than 600 locations, recently delayed plans to reopen its cinemas until mid to late August, due to surging coronavirus cases across the United States.
NATO said Monday that U.S. cinemas employ more than 150,000 people, adding that many are vulnerable individuals underrepresented in the workforce, including young people and people with disabilities.
“The passionate response to this campaign has exceeded our expectations, and this week is especially crucial for moviegoers across the country to show support,” says Esther Baruh, director of government relations for NATO. “Theaters are the beating hearts of the communities they serve. They drive local economies and boost neighborhood businesses. But without more help from Congress, we fear for the future of the industry.”