NATO Shines Spotlight on Unsung Exhibition Heroes in New Video Series, “Behind the Screens”

The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) has launched online its first-ever digital video series, Behind the Screens: The Faces of Exhibition, shining a spotlight on the people who work at movie theatres across the country on NATO’s new website at

Behind the Screens’ six individual shorts debuted last week at CinemaCon, and received a warm reception in Las Vegas from nearly 6,000 attendees of the world’s largest gathering of movie theatre owners from around the world.  The six short subjects follow the stories of dedicated exhibition leaders, representing people from major chains to the smaller independents representing only one or two screens.  

Behind the Screens was produced by NATO in association with FilmFrog.

“We are excited to premiere Behind the Screens to showcase the talented and passionate people who make exhibition special,” said Michael O’Leary, NATO’s President & CEO. 

“The theatrical experience would not be what it is without their dedication and creativity. We look forward to sharing more member stories in the years ahead.”

The enterprising exhibition leaders featured in the first six videos are: 

Emelyn Stuart, Stuart Cinema and Café

Emelyn founded this innovative neighborhood cornerstone cinema in Brooklyn, serving under-represented communities. She is the first Black Latina to own a movie theater in New York City.  

Lauren McChesney & Matt McClanahan, Co-owners, Shankweiler’s Drive-In

Located in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley region, this pioneering couple is reviving America’s oldest continually operating community drive-in theater.

Mayte Alquicira, Loyalty Manager, Cinépolis USA

Based in Dallas, Mayte is devoted to creating great experiences for a wide variety of moviegoers with unique loyalty offerings.

David Haywood, SVP Food & Beverage, Cinemark

Headquartered in Plano, Texas, David is responsible for pairing concessions with film to create new moviegoing memories. 

J.D. Loeks, CEO, Studio C/Celebration Cinema

Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, J.D. and his family are featured for their efforts in building a multipex and piazza as the anchor of a revitalized downtown entertainment hub. 

Francisco Schlotterbeck, CEO, Maya Cinemas

A California/Nevada chain bringing a premium movie experience to family-oriented underserved communities.  

NATO also launched a special program celebrating the longevity of its membership at CinemaCon this year. Through its Legacy Program, NATO is honoring movie theatre companies that have been in business for 50, 75, and 100 years. The numbers are impressive: 69 companies have been in business for 50 years, 89 companies for 75 years, and 56 companies for over a century.  

“The future of the exhibition industry is bright,” added O’Leary. “A huge reason why: it’s the people in this industry who never stop innovating and creating the experiences that movie fans around the world love. We are excited to share the stories of just a few of these amazing individuals this year.”

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