The National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) released a new letter addressed to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday praising Senate Democrats’ COVID-19 stimulus plan, with dozens of Hollywood actors and filmmakers listed among the signees.
For months, NATO has urged Congress to pass a stimulus plan to aid movie theaters and other entertainment industry businesses, warning that 70% of theaters will go bankrupt if they do not receive another round of federal aid by next spring. While theaters were able to take advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program and other services passed through the CARES Act last summer, most of those programs have since expired and thousands of theaters have closed in the U.S. in recent weeks as the pandemic has escalated.
In the letter, NATO praised Schumer for championing the Save Our Stages initiative, a section of the pandemic stimulus plan that would provide $15 billion in grants to entertainment venues including indie cinemas. The organization noted that in Schumer’s state, New York, theaters provide 8,000 jobs and an economic boost to adjacent businesses and the state’s film industry.
“With you as a champion, there is a solution that could help theaters bridge the pandemic until new content is available theatrically and crowds are ready to come back,” the letter says. “The Save Our Stages Act, as amended thanks to your efforts, is a lifeline that theaters need to see them through this crisis.”
NATO is urging the pass of a new stimulus plan before year’s end, but it is uncertain when exactly Congress will be able to agree on any sort of plan. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has insisted that stimulus packages include a liability waiver for business, freeing them from being sued should their employees contract COVID-19 in the workplace, a condition that has been refused by Democrats. The two sides have also had disagreements about the size of the stimulus package, particularly for how much aid will be provided for state and local budgets that have been decimated by the pandemic.
Signees on NATO’s latest letter include Al Pacino, Darren Aronofsky, Viola Davis, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Hudson, Billy Porter and Robert De Niro. Read the full letter below.
Thanks @SenSchumer for working to save over 8,000 jobs at #cinemas in New York! Movie theaters lead in employing people with disabilities, minorities, and first-time jobholders. We can’t let those jobs be lost! #saveyourcinema #saveourstages pic.twitter.com/wSTW2ldiVu
— National Association of Theatre Owners (@NATOcinemas) November 30, 2020