Earlier this year, Boxoffice partnered with Celluloid Junkie to present the fourth annual list of Top Women in Global Exhibition, published in our CinemaCon issue. Throughout 2019, Boxoffice will continue to honor the women who have an immeasurable impact on the exhibition industry with a series of in-depth profiles.
Katy Loria, Chief Revenue Officer
Darryl Schaffer, EVP Operations & Exhibitor Relations
Screenvision veterans Katy Loria and Darryl Schaffer have been instrumental in the cinema-advertising company’s success. In 2018 alone, Screenvision was able to sign 35 exhibitor partnership contracts to its cinema-advertising network. The company renewed long-term partnership agreements with leading exhibitors National Amusements and Malco Theatres last year, along with adding new players like California-based Maya Cinemas. Schaffer and Loria lead the exhibitor-relations and sales teams, respectively, and are poised to help Screenvision achieve further growth in 2019. Earlier this year, Screenvision announced its adoption of a pair of initiatives—the GD-IQ Check, developed in collaboration with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media; and the GEM score, a creation of the Association of National Advertisers’ #SeeHer movement—to encourage accurate and equal gender representation in their programming. In addition, Schaffer has been named to the board of Variety – the Children’s Charity of New York.
How has the world of in-theater marketing evolved since you joined Screenvision? How do you see it evolving in the coming years?
Darryl Schaffer: Well, for one thing, in-theater advertising revenue has grown substantially since I joined Screenvision over 25 years ago. It has become an incredibly meaningful part of an exhibitor’s bottom line. In fact, Screenvision’s revenue has actually grown by about 125 percent since I joined! The move from analog to digital delivery was a huge evolution, as well, and an exciting and challenging one to be a part of.
We’ve always been proud of the relationships we have with our network exhibitor partners and the way we work with them to ensure greater innovation and flexibility on both sides. We will continue to do this in the coming years, bringing more solutions and new ideas for how we use on-screen and lobby inventories in addition to how we use data to enhance our offerings to advertisers and, therefore, our exhibitor partners.
What’s your favorite part of your job at Screenvision?
DS: I truly love working with our 170 exhibitor partners. I always look forward to meeting with exhibitors, whether it be to move the business forward, solve a problem, or negotiate a contract. I really enjoy the process of negotiating long-term deals with our exhibitor partners; every time I look back on a negotiation, I feel as if it helped make the relationship stronger and, in the case of new partners, as if it was a way to build a new relationship.
I am also really proud of the exhibitor-relations team, and love working with them day to day. We have amazing tenure on the team, with 16 people averaging 15 years at Screenvision!
Katy Loria: That’s an easy question, but I have a long answer, so I’ll try to abbreviate: the movies, the people, and the value proposition. Everyone’s Monday morning watercooler talk involves the movies, so how lucky are we that a favorite pastime is also our business? I feel incredibly fortunate to work within the Screenvision Media family. I’m inspired on a daily basis by the creativity, hard work, enthusiasm, and just plain smarts that the people around me bring into the building every day. And last but not least, the place Screenvision holds within the media landscape is pretty compelling—we sit at the intersection of the most premium video, a coveted audience of moviegoers, and a giant screen in a very special environment. Stated mildly, the impact of the ads that run in our medium is substantial. We are happy to be part of a brand’s solution in the pursuit of audiences who seek out premium video experiences.
Can you describe an early moviegoing experience? What made it so memorable for you?
DS: I grew up in the city and I loved going to the movies from a young age. I remember my dad taking me to the theater on 86th Street to see Star Wars and many other movies. We would always go to Papaya King afterwards.
KL: I’m sure most would answer this with their first movie, but my memory isn’t that good. What I do remember clearly is my parents strongly discouraging me from seeing my first rated-R movie. I technically wasn’t old enough, and they knew that not only would I have my eyes closed most of the time, but that the movie would also haunt me. As is usually the case, they were right. The movie was Alien (1979).
Can you talk a bit about some of the mentors you’ve had in this business?
DS: There have been a few CEOs at Screenvision who have certainly been my mentors, including Travis Reid and, most recently, John Partilla. I have definitely learned from each of them in different ways. Also, I have to say that I learn from our exhibitor partners every day: listening to them has undoubtedly taught me how to do my job better. I am so grateful for these relationships.
KL: Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to work with many strong leaders who have also graciously played the role of mentor—and a good number of them have been women and working moms. At Screenvision, I’m honored to work side by side with one of the best and most respected women in exhibition, so I have to say Hall of Famer Darryl Schaffer! She epitomizes patience and impartiality and is an encyclopedia of knowledge.
What is your proudest achievement of your time so far at Screenvision?
DS: It has been incredibly rewarding to build such a robust network of exhibitor partners, now with over 15,000 screens, and to have a great team of people around me. It has also been extraordinary to be part of such a charitable industry and company. In 2017, Screenvision Media was awarded Vendor of the Year at the Geneva Convention, which was a great honor, and I was inducted in to the ShowEast Hall of Fame the same year. That was certainly one of my proudest moments, because I was surrounded by the Screenvision team and my family.
KL: I have loved being part of Screenvision’s growth within the media marketplace and am proud of the visibility and voice we have in the premium-video landscape. The development of our team into a consultative sales force has been integral to this growth, and I’m especially proud of the partnerships they’ve forged and continue to nurture.
How would you evaluate the progress women have made in the exhibition business in the past few years?
DS: It has definitely been interesting to see this evolution within exhibition. I used to almost only work with men on the exhibitor side, and now it is much more balanced. I think that this list of the top women in global cinema is a testament to that and, needless to say, I am very proud to be included on the list with so many amazing women and friends, including my Screenvision colleague Katy Loria!
What are the key accomplishments you would still like to make during your time at Screenvision?
DS: I hope that we continue to evolve to become even better, more relevant partners for the exhibitors in our network. There is nothing that stands out as a key accomplishment to still achieve, but at the end of the day I want our exhibitor partners to look to us as a material vendor and a key collaborator that they really enjoy working with.
What advice would you give to women just entering the movie exhibition business?
DS: I think that it is an incredibly exciting time to be connected to the movie-exhibition business. With all of the innovation and investments being made, not to mention the record-breaking box office results, I truly believe that the best is yet to come. The advice I would give to anyone entering the business would be to enjoy it, because we are so lucky to be in this exciting industry!
Describe your ideal moviegoing experience.
DS: While the moviegoing experience has evolved and innovated in amazing ways with regard to seating, presentation, and food and drink options, I just like a comfortable seat close to the aisle and a good movie!
KL: When I can get my teenage son and daughter to agree on a movie (!), it’s usually a family experience. We are notorious early to the theater—I have to get settled into my seat before heading to the concession stand for a tub of popcorn. And I don’t share my popcorn.
What can companies like Screenvision do to encourage diversity within the exhibition industry?
DS: I’m proud to say that Screenvision Media values diversity, with women making up half of the executive team. I love what our sales team, led by Katy Loria, is doing to promote the meaningful representation of women in film via a partnership with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, in which our Front + Center preshow will give a special look at upcoming films that receive GD-IQ certification.
KL: Equality should stand for a place where we all belong. It’s incumbent on us to foster an environment where everyone feels not only welcome, but invited and encouraged to participate. If we don’t encourage that dialogue, the workplace and the world will get boring pretty quickly. On a tangible front, it begins with recruiting and carries through to hiring, training, and mentoring diverse team members, from the ground floor all the way through to the board.
Katy, can you talk a bit about Screenvision’s partnership with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and how it came about?
KL: I can remember attending a panel at Cannes Lions several years back and being shocked to learn that less than 20 percent of women in movies had speaking roles. It seemed impossible. I don’t know whether I was more taken aback by the statistic or that I hadn’t noticed the inequality myself. Because we think Screenvision sits at a pretty cool intersection of film, media, and distribution, it just naturally made sense to use our network to help bring awareness to an initiative that is not only important within our walls, but also those of the brands that we work with. As we learned more about the important research being done at the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media in the film industry—as well as efforts within the media industry being heralded by #SeeHer—we grew increasingly excited to introduce content opportunities on the big screen that tie gender equality messaging with the brands in support of it. We hope the moviegoing audience will not only appreciate the content but also continue to support the films that are presenting balanced representation both on screen and behind the camera.
Daryl: It sounds like Variety – the Children’s Charity of New York is poised to do some really great, interesting work. Can you talk a bit about why you joined the board of directors and what sorts of projects you’re planning?
DS: I’ve always been proud to work in such a charitable industry, and we at Screenvision Media have consistently supported industry charities like Variety and Will Rogers. When the New York branch of Variety was being re-formed, it was an honor to be asked to join the board. In its new formation, Variety – the Children’s Charity of New York will be focused on freedom and future. The Freedom program delivers vital life-changing equipment and services for mobility, independence, and social inclusion, while the Future program delivers crucial life-enriching communication equipment, services, education, and self-esteem to individual children and children’s organizations. Earlier in June, we gave away an adaptive bike as part of Variety International’s Freedom Day, and I was so thrilled to be part of that opportunity!