For struggling independent movie theaters, help may be on the way

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Independent movie theaters and other live entertainment venues may get a boost from the most recent stimulus package. Photo by Joelk75 (CC BY 2.0).

The $1.9 trillion relief package President Biden signed on March 11 provides some help for small theaters and other entertainment venues. The American Rescue Plan includes an additional $1.25 billion for a grant program created last December for venue owners. Possible grant recipients will be able to submit applications in the coming weeks. 

It’s been a brutal 12 months for theaters. Beloved independent cinema chain Alamo Drafthouse recently declared bankruptcy. 

The big movie theater chains are also in trouble. AMC lost $4.6 billion in 2020, though the company’s CEO somehow managed to double his paycheck to $20 million last year. 

In addition to being shuttered for months, theaters are still in conflict with studios over when new movies will be played. The nation’s third largest movie chain, Cinemark, refused to play the newest Disney movie, “Raya and the Last Dragon,” because it didn’t like the terms it was being offered from Disney. “Raya” streamed for a premium fee on Disney+. 

May looks like the month when theater owners will start to see if audiences are ready to come back to theaters in full force. The newest Marvel movie “Black Widow” will open in early May, and “Cruella” and “A Quiet Place II” will open over Memorial Day weekend.

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Kim Masters

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Kaitlin Parker