The National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) has asked the Federal Government for relief as more and more screens remain dark amid the coronavirus outbreak. While people could use the occasional 90-minute break from dim reality now more than ever, movie theaters can no longer provide refuge to those seeking a little escapism.
Movie theaters are among those hit hardest by the measures currently taken, as social distancing and self-isolation remain our sharpest weapons in the fight against COVID-19 for now. “The business model of the movie theater industry is uniquely vulnerable in the present crisis,” NATO wrote in a statement on Wednesday. “As we confront this evolving and unprecedented period, we call on Congress and the Administration to ensure that America’s movie theater industry and its tens of thousands of employees across the country can remain resilient.”
As theaters across the country have been shutting down over the past few weeks, countless theatrical releases have been postponed and box office earnings are plummeting. According to industry tracking site Box Office Mojo, domestic box office earnings were down 52 percent in the week ended March 12 and 69 percent this week. That will only be the beginning of it though. As it looks likely that much of the United States will be on lockdown for weeks, if not months, the industry’s call for help should be taken very seriously.