by John Fithian, President and CEO, NATO
Welcome to CinemaCon! I am thrilled that our ninth-annual convention has arrived. I join Kathy Conroy in thanking all the NATO member-volunteers who help make this convention such a success. And I want to give a shout-out to our amazing CinemaCon team of Mitch Neuhauser, Matt Pollock, Matt Shapiro, and Cynthia Schuler. Our attendees see these folks one week a year. But I can tell you how hard, how creatively, and how intelligently these four individuals work all year to pull this together.
CinemaCon means many different things to many different people. But this year I want to highlight a few of my favorite aspects of this amazing event.
Big and Small Working Together
Consolidation, both in exhibition and distribution, is a fact. There can be no doubt that a great deal of market share is concentrating in a few companies. Yet the smaller exhibitors and distributors still have a fundamental role in our convention, and in the industry.
Our most significant award this year (the Marquee Award) goes to an exhibitor who only operates in one state, but who has had a global impact on this industry. As the past chairman of NATO, John Loeks was the inspiration behind the Global Cinema Federation—a way to bring exhibitors together from around the world. At the same time, the largest exhibition circuits in the world are participating in CinemaCon too. Cinemark is bringing hundreds of managers this year, which will enhance the meaning and passion of the event.
And on the distribution side of our business, the biggest Hollywood studios have brought their product and talent to the show. Disney and Fox, now combined, are presenting product on behalf of the biggest movie production and distribution company in the world. At the same time, the industry’s newest (yet in some ways oldest) player, United Artists distribution (a combined effort of Annapurna and MGM) will make its industry debut in Vegas.
The Cinema Experience Has Never Been Better
CinemaCon offers the largest trade show and demonstration suites of any cinema convention in the world. I hope that all our attendees can spend some meaningful time checking out what is on offer. From the latest in sound and image to luxury seating to expanded food and beverage offerings, you can find all the tools you need to give your guests the best moviegoing experience they have ever had. NATO is so grateful for the support of our friends at the National Association of Concessionaires and the International Cinema Technology Association for keeping CinemaCon, and our exhibitor attendees, on the cutting edge. And we are particularly proud that for the ninth consecutive year, the Coca-Cola Company will support the show as our most important partner and sponsor.
The Industry Is Nothing without Great Movies
It takes both great movies and an extraordinary moviegoing experience to grow this magical business of ours. We are grateful and excited to have nine different movie distributors participating in CinemaCon this year: Amazon, Disney, Fox, Lionsgate, Paramount, STX, United Artists, Universal, and Warner Bros. Some of these companies will present elements of their upcoming slates. Some will describe their new business, or a new approach to a preexisting business. And in direct response to our survey results from last year, some will present feature screenings for our attendees. It’s a great mix of product this year, and I can’t wait to see what is on offer from our friends in distribution.
CinemaCon Is Always a Significant NATO Gathering
In addition to the public events during this convention week, CinemaCon remains an important gathering place for NATO members in a variety of private meetings. Some of our convention registrants may not know all that happens off the public schedule. On Sunday, a full day of important meetings takes place. The NATO Government Relations Committee meets to discuss strategies on a range of political challenges at the federal, state, and local level. Our Regional Association Leaders meet to compare ideas on how to strengthen their organizations. NATO’s Committee of Counsel gets together to tackle the key legal issues and court cases confronting the industry. The past chairpersons of NATO meet to give their sage guidance to NATO’s current leaders. The Diversity and Inclusion Committee focuses on ways the industry can grow the participation and leadership of women, minorities, and young people. And also on Sunday the Global Cinema Federation’s Advisory Board meets to discuss global initiatives in the exhibition industry.
Then on Monday NATO’s governing body—the Executive Board of directors—meets to approve policies and budgets for the association’s work. Also on Monday NATO’s Independent Theatre Owners Committee, in conjunction with CinemaCon, holds an important education session for smaller exhibitor members of the trade association. Later in the week NATO’s Ratings Compliance Officers meet with leaders of the Motion Picture Association of America and the Classification and Ratings Administration to improve the execution, education, and enforcement of the industry’s movie rating system. And the Movie Theft Task Force, which includes representatives of both exhibition and distribution, gets together to tackle the scourge of movie theft (“piracy”).
We are deeply grateful for the dozens and dozens of NATO member-company volunteers who take time during this busy week to work in these key groupings.
And for all our 3,000 full registrants and our 5,000 total attendees, thank you for participating in our show this week. I look forward to speaking with as many of you as possible as we celebrate the moviegoing experience.