Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
Movie theaters in Washington and Mt. Pleasant may have some relief on the way.
On Nov. 5, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that Iowa movie theaters can apply for pandemic relief grants of up to $10,000 per screen.
'We've been working closely with the governor's office, lobbying the governor to use some soon to be expiring CARES money to help the state's movie theaters,” said Russell Vannorsdel, vice president of Des Moines-based Fridley Theatres, which owns and operates the State Theatre in Washington. 'This will allow us to continue to operate the State Theatre.”
Chris Swed, Iowa regional manager of Eisentraut Theatres, which owns the Temple Theatre in Mt. Pleasant said he appreciates the help from the state.
'It's nice to see our state government see the need and do something to help,” Swed said. 'It's nice to know they see us as a value.”
The governor has earmarked $5.5 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act for the theater grant program.
The Temple Theatre, with its two screens, is eligible for $20,000, while the State Theatre and its one screen can get $10,000.
While the relief is welcome, it is only a stopgap measure for theater owners.
Movie theaters have struggled since the governor ordered their closure in the spring.
Even after re-opening this summer, Hollywood has not cooperated.
'The studios have been holding back content or going straight to streaming services,” Swed said. 'This is something theaters have never had to go through.”
Vannorsdel said that the supply chain is broken.
'Hollywood isn't releasing big new movies,” he said. 'They're either moving them to 2021 or streaming them.”
He said the grant money is a bridge to when big relief comes in some form.
'It's a bridge to Hollywood hits or a large COVID relief deal,” Vannorsdel said.