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Want to help in tragedy relief? Go to the movies Tuesday

If you couldn’t give toward national relief efforts in this week’s telethons, you might want to set aside a few dollars for the movies on Tuesday.

Sunday, September 23, 2001

If you couldn’t give toward national relief efforts in this week’s telethons, you might want to set aside a few dollars for the movies on Tuesday.

Theater chains across the country – including the Cinemark chain – will donate their proceeds Sept. 25, two weeks to the day after the terrorist attacks on America, to national victim relief funds.

One hundred percent of ticket and concession sales of nearly 80 movie theater chains will be distributed equally between the September 11th Fund of the United Way and the American Red Cross, the National Association of Theatre Owners said.

”We’ve had a strong number of calls from theater operators around the country asking, ‘How can we do something to help?”’ said John Fithian, president of the theater owners association. ”Now we have the vast majority of screens in the country participating.”

About 29,000 screens already are involved in ”Victims’ Benefit Day at the Movies,” roughly 80 percent of the nation’s 36,000 total.

"At Cinemark USA, we are deeply saddened by the recent tragic events," executives there said on the company’s Web site. "We offer our heartfelt sympathy to the families and friends of the victims and salute the courageous efforts of the disaster relief workers. Come to the theatre and help us make this donation as large as possible."

Cinemark, which operates 2,700 screens in North America and 13 countries, has one local theater – Movies 10 in Ashland, Ky.

Typical total theater returns for a Tuesday in September, a notoriously slow month for movies, is about $5 million, industry analysts said.

Still, the members of America’s movie theatre industry were deeply saddened by the tragic events of Sept. 11, and want to help, Fithian said.

Although theaters must pay a rental fee to studios to show movies, Fithian maintained all of the money taken in at the box office on Tuesday would go to the charities.

If some studios are unwilling to waive their fee for that day, which can be as much as 50-70 percent of the ticket, theater owners plan to pay it out of their own pockets.

On the Net: National Association of Theatre Owners: http://www.natoonline.org

The Associated Press contributed to this story.