CinemaCon 2024: A Great Moment To Celebrate Our Industry

Michael O’Leary, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Association of Theatre Owners

Welcome to the world’s premier entertainment showcase—CinemaCon 2024. The start of CinemaCon marks my first anniversary at NATO, and what a remarkable 12 months it has been. I am forever indebted to all the great people across the film industry who reached out to help me learn the ropes. Your support for our team, including all the fantastic folks at NATO, the Cinema Foundation, and CinemaCon, has been gratifying. Your enthusiasm for our mission is not surprising given that you are the dedicated individuals who operate the excellent theaters around the world that are the strength of our industry.

CinemaCon never disappoints, and Mitch Neuhauser, Matt Pollock, and Matt Shapiro deserve credit for making it the special event it is. Each year CinemaCon celebrates the art of motion pictures and our talented partners in the creative and distribution communities who bring the movies to life on your big screens. This year is no exception. Our friends in distribution are bringing great motion pictures to Las Vegas to show you, along with the stars and creators that make them unique. The Colosseum will once again be the place to be. Thank you to the studios and the creative community for their continued partnership.

But CinemaCon is also a celebration of the magic of the theatrical experience and the people that make it happen—you, the NATO members. We have some extraordinary things planned for you this year. I’m very excited that the Independent Theatre Owners Coalition (ITOC) will be meeting at Caesars Palace this year and will be accessible to even more independent operators. Colleen Barstow and the ITOC leadership are building a comprehensive program to serve the unique needs of our independent operators. Additionally, we are working on new ways to support and highlight NATO membership—both at the Colosseum and throughout the week at various events.

Without you, the cinema would not be the special place it is. Today’s filmgoers have high expectations. They want quality experiences, and you have met their demands. Last year highlighted the unique magic of moviegoing as an event. You know your customers better than anyone, and it shows. And they keep coming back, which is critically important—not just from a fiscal perspective—but from a cultural one too. There is no place like a movie theater because there is a place for everyone at the movies. People from all walks of life, with different beliefs and backgrounds, make the journey to the theater to sit in a darkened auditorium surrounded by strangers and participate in an experience that is both uniquely personal and deeply communal at the same time. Our world needs places like theaters—where people come together from all corners to learn, laugh, think, cry, and enjoy—and you make that happen every day.

This is an exciting time for exhibition—the future of our industry is limitless. Simply put, movie theaters are irreplaceable. Audiences flock to theaters because that immersive, transcendent storytelling experience can’t be replicated elsewhere. And you are doing innovative work daily in your theaters to keep that experience on the cutting edge, with new sound and visual technology, delicious food and beverages, and events that welcome and celebrate die-hard fans in costume. There is an exciting energy in our industry right now that is propelling us into a future where, working hand in hand with our partners in distribution, there are no “off” weeks. Your theaters are prepared and ready to bring in audiences for films of all sizes and stripes and to capitalize on the great desire for that communal experience. Moments of innovation are moments of opportunity; that’s where I believe our industry sits right now, and I believe that the path forward for us is bright.

So, I hope you have a terrific week here in Vegas. I know you will get to see great movies, big stars, and award-winning directors. But I also hope you will take a moment this fantastic week to recognize that the magic of a film on the big screen doesn’t happen without you. And I hope you will appreciate how lucky we all are to work in such a wonderfully important industry. Enjoy the show.

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