Interview with Todd Halstead, Theatre Owners of Mid-America (TOMA)
How has 2016 been for TOMA exhibitors?
TOMA’s members are experiencing a great year of growth and expansion. The region’s exhibitors have long been industry trendsetters who recognize the need to provide more choices for an increasingly diverse moviegoing public to enjoy.
Are there any particular trends that have flourished throughout the region?
Everyone sees the same movie when the lights go out, so exhibitors are creating a total brand experience that attracts loyal guests. Exhibitors operating in the region have led the way in transforming the industry by creating premium experiences, ranging from in-theater dining and luxury seating to state-of-the-art audio and projection technologies.
And theaters in the region are supplementing the traditional moviegoing experience with one-stop cinema entertainment centers that feature arcades, bowling lanes, billiards, laser tag, and other interactive games.
What are some of the main topics you’ll be tackling at the CinéShow seminars this year?
CinéShow is in its 18th year and will convene in Dallas this August. I’m excited to say that it’s shaping up to be a great convention—both in terms of attendees and the trade show. CinéShow has transformed into a truly regional convention with exhibitors from each of the six states represented by TOMA attending. The trade show will feature more than 55 booths and will be a great mixture of long-time supporters of the convention and new suppliers displaying their wares.
As with last year, the Tuesday Luncheon will highlight the robust and diverse slate of programs Brad Wardlow has developed as head of a revitalized Cinema Buying Group. And industry experts will discuss how to achieve greater growth through loyalty programs, understanding the millennial market, and delivering premium moviegoing experiences in medium and small auditoriums.
The success of CinéShow is thanks to the hard work of volunteers, like TOMA president Byron Berkley, and the support from studios and sponsors. Additionally, CinéShow is a great time to recognize the outstanding contributions of the region’s industry leaders. This year, David Boles of CCSI will receive the Vendor of the Year Award in recognition of his dedication to the convention and industry. Shane Morrison of Celebrity Theatres will receive the inaugural TOMA Action Award for his work going above and beyond to advocate on behalf of the industry to defeat onerous legislation. And our valued partners at Variety of Texas will celebrate the charity’s 80th anniversary this year by honoring Cinemark’s Steve Zuehlke as Texan of the Year.
What would you say are the main concerns for TOMA members?
The foremost concern and primary mission for TOMA is addressing bad legislation that will impact the important role movie theaters play as the cultural and economic anchors that unite communities and drive retail traffic across the region. Our members give first-time workers the opportunity to build essential leadership and work skills they can apply to advancing in this or any industry. Using this great story to tell, TOMA endeavors to advance the exhibition industry and support the cinemas that operate in our region through education and advocacy at the state and local levels of government.
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