Pete Hammond

Before 20th Century Fox got around to revealing its product reel this morning at CinemaConBruce Snyder FoxNational Association of Theatre Owners president John Fithian came onstage to honor outgoing Fox distribution president Bruce Snyder, who announced his retirement this week. Fithian, introduced by Fox’s current EVP Domestic Distribution and Snyder’s replacement Chris Aronson, said he was shocked by Snyder’s move, saying “it’s like a .300 hitter leaving the game when he is still hitting 300″. He noted that Snyder has the rare ability to solve problems ”with an iron fist and a velvet heart. A good friend with a special gentleness”. Aronson said “no award in existence could mark” the real impact of Snyder’s 36 years with Fox before they brought Snyder out to present him with CinemaCon’s Triumph Award.

Related: Fox Distribution Boss Bruce Snyder Retiring; Chris Aronson To Replace Him

After a rousing ovation, Snyder accepted, saying, “It was wonderful to get words like that when you are still vertical. I had a wonderful career at Fox and better too soon (to retire) than too late”.

Aronson, who will replace Snyder after he leaves July 6th, then introduced co-chairs Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman, who publicly begged Snyder to “think it over” and stay. Gianopulos even offered to give him his office if he would, but Snyder said since his mind is made up and he’s going to be off on a road trip with his brother, Gianopulos announced the studio will throw him the biggest party there ever was.

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