The California & Nevada division of the National Association of Theater Owners announced on Wednesday that it has established a $1.25 million relief fund for movie theater employees in those two states. The emergency aid follows the $2.4 million support fund created by NATO’s national office on Monday for employees who have been furloughed as thousands of cinemas have closed nationwide due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The funds will be divided proportionately among eligible member theatre companies based on the number of screens they operate, and will be distributed to employees who have worked a minimum of six months prior to the closures. It will be up to each theater company to determine how the funds they received will be distributed among their employees.
“As we all know, our industry is dependent on our employees for survival, and we want to do what we can to assist them during these challenging times,” said Milton Moritz, NATO of California/Nevada’s president and CEO.
“Movie theatres are an essential part of the community and it is our hope that these funds will in some measure help lighten our members’ employees’ financial burden imposed during the current crisis.”
Since mid-March, hundreds of thousands of movie theaters around the world have been forced to close as governments have ordered shutdowns of all non-essential businesses to contain the spread of the coronavirus. With all income cut off, theater chains like AMC have been forced to furlough both corporate and hourly employees to avoid bankruptcy, and even more stable companies like Cinemark have announced that corporate employees will have to take pay cuts of at least 50%.
On Monday, NATO’s national office announced that it would create a $2.4 million fund for longtime theater employees laid off by the pandemic, with plans for expanded assistance to support the film industry still in development. It has been estimated that over 150,000 theater employees have been temporarily or permanently laid off by the coronavirus crisis.