Movie Theatre Owner Chief Pleads For Government Bailout -- "The Situation Is Dire"

Most US theatres will go bankrupt if the government doesn't come through with help, National Association of Theatre Owners chief says.

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One of the many industries hit hard by the new lockdown procedures in the United States is the film business. Specifically, movie theatres have been drastically impacted, as thousands of screens have closed due to the COVID-19 crisis.

John Fithian, the CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners in the US, has now spoken about the dire situation. He told Variety that the movie theatre business might collapse and go bankrupt if US Congress does not pass the trillion-dollar bailout bill that would provide relief to various industries, including theatres.

"The situation is that dire," Fithian explained. "Overnight, we went from an industry that makes $15 billion a year--$11 billion in ticket sales and $4 billion in concessions--to one that is not going to make a penny for three or four months."

The US movie theatre business is massive, employing some 150,000 movie theatre workers who have now been furloughed. Movie theatres must still pay rent and utilities during this crisis. Without any federal bailout, movie theatre chains could go bankrupt, Fithian said.

The executive added that he hopes the government rescue bail gets passed because banks won't give credit lines to movie theatres because of the uncertainty surrounding when the crisis may end.

"Most of these theaters, not all of them, but most of them, will go bankrupt if this does not pass," Fithian said. "If this goes through, it will provide a whole lot of help to industries that need it like restaurants and bars and bowling alleys and retailers."

With movie theatres closed, some studios are electing to release their new movies on digital and streaming services day-and-date with their previously scheduled theatre dates. Other studios have brought forward the video-on-demand releases of films, as has been the case with Birds of Prey and Sonic the Hedgehog.

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