RIVER FALLS — Struggling Wisconsin theaters facing a double blow from pandemic-related restrictions and a shortage of new movies coming from the big studios will get a $10 million boost from a statewide grant program.

Local grant recipients announced Tuesday, Nov. 17, are:

  • The Falls Theatre in River Falls — 29,239.77
  • New Richmond 8 Theatre — $116,959.06

CEC Theatres, operator of Hudson 12 Theatre, was awarded more than $380,000 for multiple locations.

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A total of 54 theater operators were awarded grants statewide from the COVID-19 Movie Theater Grant Program, funded by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and administered by the Wisconsin Department of Administration.

“Wisconsin businesses across industries and communities have felt the strains of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and movie theaters have been particularly hard as they also battle stalled movie production,” Gov. Tony Evers said in a news release. “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.”

Theaters were awarded an average of $14,600 per screen. The money can be used for pandemic-related costs such as renovations to accommodate social distancing.

“Movie theaters employ thousands of individuals throughout the state,” Wisconsin DOA Secretary Joel Brennan said. “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.”

The biggest grant is just over $4 million to Marcus Cinemas of Wisconsin, which operates a couple of dozen theaters around the state.

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The governor on Friday, Nov. 20, announced an additional $70 million in the second round of “We’re All In” grants to support small businesses in the state. The grants are funded by the CARES Act and administered by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue in partnership with Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

The application window for the grants closed Nov. 2, with awards to be announced and distributed by mid-December.