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. The 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.”
That’s one of several recommendations in the voluntary in-theater marketing guidelines released this morning by the National Association of Theatre Owners. ”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. Trailers 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.”
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.
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.
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
(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.
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.”
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, …
(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.
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
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.
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.