The state’s COVID-19 Movie Theater Grant Program will divvy up $10 million in grants to 54 movie theater operators, including seven that have theater locations in southeastern Wisconsin.
Gov. Tony Evers announced the grant awardees Tuesday, underscoring the detrimental impact of the pandemic on cinemas, which rely on in-person business.
“Wisconsin businesses across industries and communities have felt the strains of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and movie theaters have been hit particularly hard as they also battle stalled movie production,” said Gov. Evers. “Movie theaters are often a corner stone of our main street businesses, and I am glad we were able to get these funds out the door to help them keep theirs open.”
The program is funded by the federal government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Recipients are awarded an average of approximately $14,600 per eligible movie theater screen in Wisconsin to be used for “pandemic-related operational costs” like cleaning supplies, personnel or facility upgrades for proper social distancing, according to a press release.
The program’s largest grant amount of $4,020,467.84 was awarded to Marcus Cinemas of Wisconsin LLC, better known as Marcus Theatres. The division of Milwaukee-based Marcus Corp. has 13 theater locations in southeastern Wisconsin, eight of which are currently reopen. The operator has 24 locations throughout the state.
Leawood, Kansas-based American Multi-Cinema Inc. (AMC) received $ 1,067,251.46 for its six theater locations in Wisconsin, including at Mayfair mall in Wauwatosa.
Milwaukee Film Inc., a nonprofit arts organization and operator of the Oriental Theatre on Milwaukee’s East Side, was awarded $43,859.65. Neighborhood Theater Group, which operates the Avalon Theater, Rosebud Cinema and Times Cinema, all in the Milwaukee area was awarded $58,479.53.
Grant funds were also issued to Boppa LTD LLC, operator of West Bend Cinema in West Bend and Schuberts Theatres South LLC, operator of Schubert’s Hartford Theatre in Hartford. Those business received $146,198.83 and $87,719.30, respectively.
A recipient listed as Brookfield Cinema LLC, based in Waukesha County, was awarded $131,578.95 in grant funds. The operators’ DBA name is unclear, but likely a subsidiary of Miami-based Silverspot Cinema, which opened a location last year at The Corners of Brookfield.
A full list of the program’s grant winners is available through the state Department of Administration.
“Movie theaters employ thousands of individuals throughout the state,” said DOA Secretary Joel Brennan. “We hope this funding will provide some relief to these institutions in communities large and small so that they can continue to provide Wisconsinites with employment and family memories in the years to come.”