HOLLYWOOD HILLS — The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) has called once again on Congress to move to help the movie theater industry amid financial struggles resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. The organization last made a plea on September 30.

In a letter sent on Monday, November 9, NATO President & CEO John Fithian emphasized the urgency of the situation, saying “American movie theaters need help now.”

“Soon, a vaccine will allow our industry to return to normal, but without bipartisan action now in the lame duck session of Congress, hundreds of movie theaters will not make it,” Fithian said. “Local communities across the nation are and will be permanently damaged. This Congress and Administration still have a job to do.”

According to the organization, 96 percent of movie theaters have reported over 70 percent in losses in 2020. Low capacity mandates in some areas and the lack of major films slated for the year are not enough for the theaters that have reopened “to make them operationally viable,” NATO added.

The organization is specifically calling on Congress to move ahed with the Heroes Small Business Lifeline Act, introduced in October in the Senate. The “Save Our Stages Act” section of the bill authorizes “the Small Business Administration (SBA) to make grants to eligible live venue operators, producers, promoters, or talent representatives to address the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on certain live venues.”

“Congress can save cinemas by including $15 billion for grants for independent venues in a COVID-19 relief package,” NATO contended in the letter. “The “Save Our Stages” proposal is the ONLY solution that will provide the bridge that theaters need to see them into next year, when the industry has a chance at recovery.”

A number of major Hollywood film releases have shifted release dates throughout the year as studios struggle to find the best way to bring them for audiences. Many have been postponed until 2021, while other films have been released early on demand and on streaming platforms. 

Cinemas employ over 153,000 individuals nationwide, according to NATO.

“Without industry-specific assistance, movie theaters simply will not survive the economic impact of the pandemic,” the organization added.