Theater Owners “Confident” Following Stimulus Aid To Struggling Movie Industry

I’m loathed to call the $2 trillion bill making its way through Congress a “stimulus”, but it is indeed a massive spending package meant to ease the pain of people and businesses struggling due to the outbreak. The movie business has been hit particularly hard, with theaters closed all across the country, leading to lost revenue and scores of layoffs. The National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) is feeling confident now, as the spending bill has passed the Senate and seeks passage in the House.

In a press release, NATO says the $2T spending package will not only help individual Americans, but will ensure a bright future for movie exhibitors at a time when people are forced to stay in their homes…

“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.”

The bill includes $454B in loan guarantees to help movie theaters pay fixed costs. There’s also expanded unemployment relief that comes at a time when Hollywood has been blasted by job losses.

The big provision that I really like is the tax credit for employee retention, helping businesses to keep their staff on payroll.

So I have other issues with the bill as a whole, but this is hardly the place to get into them. Overall, there is very good stuff in here to help the entertainment industry at a time of great uncertainty. We rely on movies and TV to help us through rough times exactly like this, and anything that helps ensure their future is good news.

Check out the full statement below:

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.

Travis Hopson has been reviewing movies before he even knew there was such a thing. Having grown up on a combination of bad '80s movies, pro wrestling, comic books, and hip-hop, Travis is uniquely positioned to geek out on just about everything under the sun. A vampire who walks during the day and refuses to sleep, Travis is the co-creator and lead writer for Punch Drunk Critics. He is also a contributor to Good Morning Washington, WBAL Morning News, and WETA Around Town. In the five minutes a day he's not working, Travis is also a voice actor, podcaster, and Twitch gamer. Travis is a voting member of the Critics Choice Association (CCA), Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), and Late Night programmer for the Lakefront Film Festival.


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