A helping hand could be on the way for struggling C.O. movie theaters

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Bill in Salem could provide movie theaters with $50,000 each

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — It’s no secret the movie theaters have had it pretty hard, with most theaters being closed the majority of this past year.

But House Bill 3376, introduced in Salem this month, is bringing new hope to Oregon movie theater owners. The bill could provide each qualifying Oregon theater with $50,000 and an additional $10,000 for each screen if the theater has two or more screens.

At a public hearing for the bill Thursday morning, Drew Kaza called it a “life or death” situation. Kaza said his theater, the Sisters Movie House, has lost $10,000-$15,000 each month since the pandemic restrictions hit.

“Whether open or not, all Oregon theaters need relief in this bill, to get us through the next six months,” Kaza testified.

For Nathan Westcott, the Madras Cinema 5 manager, the legislation and the assist it would provide is music to his ears. The pandemic has forced some of his workers to collect unemployment. Just last week, his theater reopened, but at 25% capacity.

“If we are looking at how operated now to pre-pandemic, were looking at a 85-90% drop in revenue,” Westcott said.

If approved, the bill would provide the Oregon Business Development Department with nearly $9 million to create a grant program for movie theaters.

Rep. Jason Kropf, D-Bend, said Friday he is in favor of the bill. He is on the committee that heard from Kaza and other movie theater owners.

“What was really compelling about the testimony is that some other resources that have been going around for small businesses has not been available to movie theater operators,” Kropf told NewsChannel 21. “I think it’s incumbent on us to continue to look at ways to target resources to those businesses that have been most impacted.”

A House committee is planning an April 6 work session on the bill.

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