CinemaCon: Will Confab Be A Calm Moment Before An Exhibition Industry Storm?

CinemaCon2014_badgeIt sure looks that way as exhibition and studio execs prepare to head to Las Vegas next week for the annual confab. There are no obvious, explosive controversies to address this time out — which is unusual. Since 2011, when the meeting formerly known as ShoWest became CinemaCon, “some big issue has blown up,” Cinemark CEO Tim Warner tells us. “I hope that doesn’t happen [this year] because the business is going so good.” Says National Association of Theatre Owners CEO John Fithian: “Sometimes we go into these conventions we go into this with one or two issues, but that’s not the case this year. We’ll be talking about product supply and movies, and how it relates to product returns. We’ll also be talking about technology.”

Related: Deadline Big Media 77 – CinemaCon Preview Podcast

This all comes as the exhibition business is poised for dramatic, and possibly painful, changes as owners deal with consumers who say that ticket prices are too high, a creative boxoffice-moneycommunity that wants better projection and sound quality, studios that want a bigger share of the box office pie, and investors who demand higher dividends.

Cheerleading is to be expected at a trade show, and there’s sure to be a lot as execs look ahead to a tsunami of sequels that could make 2015 a blowout year for box offices. Paramount, Universal, Sony, Fox and Warner Bros will show their product reels. Disney will feature its Jon Hamm-starring sports-themed Million Dollar Arm. Not to be outdone, Lionsgate will feature its sports-themed comedy-drama Draft Day from director Ivan Reitman and starring Kevin Costner, while Universal swings back around with a screening of the comedy Neighbors about newlyweds with a baby who must live next to a fraternity house. And filmmaker Chris Nolan (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises) will take part in a discussion about his career. The late Tom Sherak will also be honored on Wednesday night at The Pioneers Dinner.

legoOn broad-stroke matters, exhibitors can pretty much cross off their top concern from last year: the dearth of family-oriented titles in Q1 followed by a summer onslaught. Exhibitors wanted family films spaced out better. “We had encouraged the studios to think about that more, and they did,” Fithian says. Family fare from this year’s early months included The Nut Job, The Lego Movie, Mr. Peabody And Sherman, and — this weekend — Muppets Most Wanted.

There’s also been progress on exhibition’s call for more small- and medium-budget movies. As the six big studios cut their output by 40%, Read More »

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AMC Entertainment Denies Report That It Opposes NATO’s New Trailer Guidelines

Looks like Variety got carried away this afternoon with a story that says “several prominent exhibitors” are rejecting the National Association of Theatre Owners‘new voluntary guidelines calling for a two-minute cap on movie trailers. movie-theaterThe site named two chains – Cinemark and AMC Entertainment — saying that their defection raises ”the question of why NATO is pushing the issue at all.” Just one thing: AMC denies the story’s claim that it “has reversed its position” after its rep on the NATO board voted for the new guidelines. “AMC Theatres is in full support of the voluntary NATO In-Theatre Marketing Guidelines, which at their core are about the more efficient and effective use of our industry’s marketing resources,” the company says. “Recently published letters, articles and commentary we’ve seen throughout the industry badly misrepresent the intent of these guidelines. As has always been our practice, this and all studio dealings will be handled directly with our distribution partners as we seek to maximize the box office performance of their films, and we expect that practice to continue.” Read More »

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Theater Owners Want Movie Trailers Limited To 2 Minutes

That’s one of several recommendations in the voluntary in-theater marketing guidelines released this morning by the National Association of Theatre Owners.NATO  ”These guidelines will evolve in response to technological innovations, marketing and advertising trends, competition in the marketplace, and consumer demands,” the trade group says.  NATO wants trailers for a movie to run no more than 150 days before it’s released, with other in-theater marketing limited to 120 days — although each distributor would have two exemptions a year from those guidelines. NATO says that it will be the “information clearinghouse” for distributors to identify the films that they want to be exempt. movie-theaterTrailers for those releases still wouldn’t be able to exceed three minutes. In addition to the limits on timing, the NATO standards would require distributors to sit down with exhibitors to negotiate terms for showing special content — such as behind-the-scenes footage and extended looks. NATO also expands on the current ratings match policies saying that members “will only place trailers with content appropriate for the particular feature” following guidelines it has established with the MPAA. Trailers can’t include third-party brands or endorsements, for example for video games or TV shows, and can’t include direct response prompts including Internet URLs or codes that might “encourage mobile phone use during the show.” The standards would apply to films released on or after October 1, with an exception for movies that are already being advertised. Central to the rules is NATO’s conclusion that trailers “are played in the theaters at the discretion of each theater chain or individual theater owner.” Read More »

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Average Movie Ticket Prices Up Sharply In Q2 To $8.38

This is the highest average price we’ve seen in years. The National Association of Theater Owners‘ Q2 stat is +5.5% vs Q1, and +3.2% over last year’s Q2. NATO‘s numbers can be a little Read More »

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Studio Pushback Forces NATO To Rethink Shortened Trailers For Theaters

By | Wednesday May 29, 2013 @ 3:36pm PDT

The National Association of Theatre Owners met with resistance from some studios when it went to the majors with a controversial set of movie trailer guidelines last week. It wants studios to limit trailers to two minutes, down 30 seconds from the MPAA-set standard, and to only advertise films within a four-month pre-release window. NATO-repped theater owners want more control over the promos that run ahead of movies and argue that shorter trailers will make moviegoing more appealing to audiences. Exhibitors would then have extra promo time to use as they choose, whether that means squeezing in additional trailers, house ads, or other inventory. But some distribution pros tell me it’s purely a money-driven move designed to squeeze more revenue out of pre-roll programming they fear could hurt studio marketing efforts. Read More »

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CinemaCon: NATO Chief Urges Studios To Produce More Family-Friendly Films

“PG-13 represents the sweet spot” for theaters, National Association of Theater Owners CEO John Fithian told a CinemaCon audience this morning. Last year there were only about a third as many PG films as R-rated ones, … Read More »

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CinemaCon: MPAA And NATO Unveil Ratings Awareness Campaign

By | Tuesday April 16, 2013 @ 10:30am PDT

Related: MPAA’s Chris Dodd Asks Theater Owners To Step Up Anti-Piracy PR

LAS VEGAS – MPAA Chairman and CEO Senator Chris Dodd delivered remarks today at CinemaCon, the annual National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) convention. During his address, Senator Dodd together with NATO President John Fithian revealed a new campaign intended to remind parents about the important tools at their disposal which allow them to make educated decisions about content appropriate for their children.

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Cinedigm Unveils Agreements To Outfit Drive-In Theaters With Digital Projectors

This is a fun announcement for the exhibition industry in the lead-up to next week’s CinemaCon convention in Las Vegas. Cinedigm and the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) say that the company will help more than 100 … Read More »

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Lack Of Family Films Accounts For Slow Q1 Box Office, Theater Industry Rep Says

Attendance takes off when there’s a diversity of films and it was “just not there” in the beginning of 2013, National Association of Theater Owners chief John Fithian said in a conference call to discuss the MPAA’s … Read More »

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NATO Says Safety Is “A Priority For Theater Owners”

This statement was just released by the National Association of Theater Owners, the exhibition trade group:

“On behalf of all the members and staff of the National Association of Theatre Owners, our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of this despicable act and their families. We are grateful

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NATO Adds Ex-Universal Exec Jerry Pierce As Tech Consultant

By | Wednesday June 20, 2012 @ 9:49am PDT

(Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain and North Hollywood, Calif., USA, June 20, 2012) — The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) announced today that Jerry Pierce, former Senior Vice President of Universal Pictures and Founder/Chairman of Inter-Society’s Digital Cinema Forum (ISDCF), will begin advising and consulting for NATO on technology issues starting July 1, 2012.

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NATO Threatens Weinstein Co With NC-17 Rating For ‘Bully’

By | Tuesday February 28, 2012 @ 2:50pm PST

The fight over Bully continues, with the National Association of Theatre Owners now making its own threats. News came out last week that the MPAA upheld its R-rating for The Weinstein Company’s Tribeca 2011 doc about school bullying and since then the Weinstein Co has considered releasing the doc unrated and even to boycott the MPAA altogether, a move could have implications for its future releases. If TWC indeed goes ahead with releasing the film unrated, NATO said today in a letter to Weinstein boss Harvey Weinstein that it will urge members to consider the Lee Hirsch-directed film an NC-17 movie. In the letter (see below), NATO president and CEO John Fithian said he would “have no choice but to encourage my theater owner members to treat unrated movies from The Weinstein Company in the same manner as they treat unrated movies from anyone else. In most cases, that means enforcement as though the movies were rated NC-17 — where no one under the age of 18 can be admitted even with accompanying parents or guardians.” Read More »

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Movie Ticket Prices Up 0.5% In 2011

The average moviegoer paid $7.93 for a ticket last year — just 4 cents more than in 2010, the smallest year-over-year increase since 1994 when prices fell 1.4% — according to data released today by the National Association of Theatre … Read More »

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Movie Ticket Prices Are Up, But People Spent Less In 3Q For 3D

Is the price of movie tickets falling? Of course not. It may not look that way in 3Q: The average amount that consumers spent was $7.94, down from $8.06 in 2Q, the National Association of Theatre Owners reports today. But … Read More »

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Latest Push From Industry Anti-Piracy Group Creative America Includes PSA

Hollywood Unites Against Content Theft Via New Coalition

Creative America, the coalition formed by labor unions, guilds, studios and networks that launched in July, said today that it has kicked off awareness campaign as well as a redesigned website. The group also said the AFL-CIO, the Association of Talent Agents, … Read More »

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Movie Theater Owners Select New Officers

By | Friday October 14, 2011 @ 8:31am PDT

(Washington, D.C. and North Hollywood, Calif., October 14, 2011) – The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) announced today the election of new officers by the Executive Board of Directors at the association’s annual meeting, October 5-6, at the Park Hyatt hotel in Washington, D.C.

Elected to two-year terms were – S. David Passman, III, President and CEO, Carmike Cinemas, Inc., as Chairman; Nora Dashwood, Chief Brand Officer, Pacific Theatres/ArcLight Cinemas, as Vice-Chairperson; Byron Berkley, President, Foothills Entertainment Co., as Treasurer; and re-elected as Secretary, Mark O’Meara, President, University Mall Theatres.

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Analyst: Studios Have “Little Chance” Of Winning Fight Over 3D Glasses

Sony’s warning that it will stop subsidizing 3D glasses is “bluster over substance,” Lazard Capital Markets analyst Barton Crockett says today. He’s struck that the National Association of Theatre Owners is vigorously opposing the idea while he’s … Read More »

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3D Glasses Shakedown: Will Audiences End Up Paying If Studios Won’t?

Sony Responds To NATO’s Claim That New 3D Glasses Plan Is Myopic

The battle lines are starting to harden around who’ll pay for those lame-looking 3D glasses. I’ve learned that other studios might line up behind Sony’s decision to stop paying the average 50-cents a pair fee beginning in May. Rival studios tell me Fox is on board. “We’re studying our options, but haven’t made any decisions yet,” denied Fox Filmed Entertainment spokesman Chris Petrikin. Remember, Fox was first in line to try to stop paying for glasses back in 2009 when it released Ice Age. But then had to abandon that effort after theaters rebelled. Sony was technically correct today when it said in a statement that “there never has been” a formal agreement stipulating that studios would shoulder the cost of 3D glasses. But it’s easy to understand why exhibitors are stunned by Sony’s stoppage. Because it changes an understanding that’s been in place since 2005 when Disney’s Chicken Little kicked off the 3D movie phenom.

“It is a radical departure from what the practice has been,” National Association of Theater Owners President John Fithian tells me. Now Regal CEO Amy Miles warns that if studios end the practice then it could “result in fewer screens exhibiting 3D films”. That’s bad news for Hollywood, which plans to release 39 films in 3D next year, vs. 36 in 2011. Exhibitors might encourage consumers to bring their own 3D glasses. That may be the future anyway. But BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield says if theaters require payment for 3D specs on top of the typical 3D surcharge ($3.25 to $4 a ticket), then “the U.S. moviegoer will reject this as another way for exhibitors to milk them and further decrease their interest in 3D (and perhaps going to the movies in general)”.

The fight is over glasses manufactured for RealD which it, in turn, supplies them to theaters. RealD’s stock price was down -14.7% today on the Sony news. The 3D tech company won’t disclose Read More »

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UPDATE: Sony Responds To NATO’s Claim That Studio’s 3D Glasses Plan Is Myopic

By | Wednesday September 28, 2011 @ 1:30pm PDT

UPDATE, 1:30 PM: A Sony spokesman has just responded to NATO’s letter from this morning, essentially saying there has never been an agreement about who bears what costs for in the 3D biz — but we can talk about it anyway.

There are constructive ways to deal with the cost of 3D glasses that will not adversely impact consumers, and can also help the environment.

NATO’s statement that it has been “understood” that distributors would always bear the cost of 3D glasses is incorrect, because there never has been any such agreement. In fact, we have been speaking with people in the industry for a long time about the need to move to a new model, so this certainly comes as a surprise to no one in the business.

We invite theater owners to engage in a collegial dialogue with us about this issue, including at ShowEast next month. By working together on a business-to-business basis, we are confident a reasonable solution can be reached that brings benefits to consumers, the entertainment industry and the environment.

PREVIOUS, 10:36 AM: The National Association of Theatre Owners has lashed back at Sony for the studio’s recent decision to stop providing 3D glasses to moviegoers. It’s not sitting well with the exhibitors’ group, which contends that there is an understanding that theaters would pay for the tech upgrades to their facilities and distributors would provide the glasses — NATO says any shift to that model is at least worth a phone call to discuss. Not to mention that if exhibition won’t absorb the cost, those who already have to cough up for premium-priced tickets to 3D movies will have to. Here’s the group’s statement; expect Sony to have a reply shortly. Read More »

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