AMC CEO: Movie theaters need government aid ‘right now’ as screens go dark due to coronavirus

Movie theaters need government assistance to weather the financial storm brought by the coronavirus, AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron told CNBC on Thursday. 

“The reality is we need relief, right now,” Aron said on “Closing Bell.” “Literally every movie theater in the country is shut or shuttering. There are no revenues coming in the door.”

Aron’s comments come one day after the National Association of Theater Owners, a trade group that represents more than 33,000 screens in all 50 states, asked Congress for loan guarantees and certain tax benefits while theaters are closed to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

“The country’s banking system is just overwhelmed with companies seeking additional liquidity at the moment, so we’re going to have to get liquidity from some place if we all in our industry have expenses and none of us have revenues,” Aron said. 

AMC, which operates 634 locations across the U.S. and Canada, said Tuesday it was closing its locations for at least six to 12 weeks. Other major theater chains Cineplex Inc., which operates Regal Cinemas, and Cineworld Group have also made their screens dark

“Theater Closed” signs are posted in front of the AMC Montebello, as the US chain of AMC movie theaters closes for 6 to 12 weeks, On March 17, 2020 in Montebello, California, as the coronavirus (covid-19) epidemic leads to restaurant and school closures and workers working from home in an effort to encourage social distancing.

Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images

The entire entertainment industry has been affected by the global pandemic as releases for new films have either been delayed or been made available on demand through streaming. 

During the closures, Aron said AMC is paying its 27,000 U.S. employees “as much as we can possibly afford to pay them” and employees who are on the company’s health-care plan will continue to have their benefits active. 

“Our focus is on having work for those 27,000 people two to three months from now when we can reopen,” Aron said. 

AMC initially announced last week it was limiting capacity at its theaters to help maintain social distancing. But the situation surrounding the coronavirus in the U.S. has changed dramatically in recent days, grinding the American economy nearly to a halt. 

There are more than 13,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., as well as 175 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University

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