CinemaCon forecasts a big year

In Focus

There are so many things happening at the annual CinemaCon convention in Las Vegas each April, but the most important one by far is the product revealed by the major studios: The show literally examines what’s ahead for the remainder of the year. This year, the product was bountiful, new technologies showed promise, big announcements were made each day, and new companies took the stage. All in all, it was a great party for the industry, with everyone convinced we are in for another good year at the box office.

Unlike some of the other recent CinemaCon editions, there was no behind-the-scenes fighting between exhibition and distribution, and on the one hot topic, The Screening Room, both sides of the industry seemed to stand together despite some producers and directors who favor the controversial plan to bring brand-new movies into the home. This editor felt that Warner Bros.’ CEO Kevin Tsujihara said it best when he declared that the industry will not let some third party come in and dictate how films will be viewed by the public.

Because of so many factors and technological innovations, the industry is changing rapidly, and it is inevitable that home viewing of first-run movies is an idea that will eventually happen. The industry is ripe for this type of change, but it needs to be led by the studios and exhibitors. We cannot allow this to be determined by people outside the industry who do not care for the cinema business and would upset the balance achieved by exhibitors, distributors and filmmakers. However, the industry needs to realize that with changing film habits and different age groups that no longer make attending the movies a priority, something has to give.

Other noteworthy happenings in Vegas included:

* The changing guard at Cinemark and AMC, with Mark Zoradi and Adam Aron taking the reins respectively at these two industry giants

* David Passman passing the torch to John Loeks to lead NATO in the near future, and Passman leaving the industry as his circuit is swallowed up by AMC

* James Cameron announcing four Avatar sequels.

* The emergence of STX Entertainment as a major studio going forward

* Amazon Studios’ marketing and distribution chief telling the CinemaCon audience that the company’s films will be released theatrically

* Box office reaching an industry high in North America of $11.2 billion and a global record of $38.3 billion

* CJ-CGV announcing its intention to be the largest cinema chain in the world, increasing its stake in the CGV-Blitz cinema chain in Indonesia and acquiring the  Mars circuit in Turkey


Now, let’s take a quick peek at the product screened and announced at CinemaCon that left delegates smiling as they departed Las Vegas:

* Warner Bros.: The Lego Batman Movie, Suicide Squad, Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

* Twentieth Century Fox: Independence Day: Resurgence, Birth of a Nation, X-Men: Apocalypse

* Universal: The Secret Life of Pets, Jason Bourne, The Girl on the Train

* Disney: Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory, Doctor Strange

* Sony: Passengers, The Magnificent Seven, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

* Paramount: Story of Your Life, Ben-Hur


Focusing on Mid-America

Despite all the competition facing exhibition today, the outlook for the business is quite positive. A look at the box office for 2015 is certainly a strong indication of the success of the industry. One of the reasons behind that is the power of exhibition to identify new opportunities and to provide their guests with new and innovative viewing environments.

Bringing exhibition together to help achieve these goals is NATO and more specifically the regional NATO associations around the country. The function and purpose of these associations is to address issues that confront their members and that can be harmful to their business. One of these groups that has come together in a team effort is Theatre Owners of Mid-America (TOMA), which today represents some 80 companies throughout the region with more than 3,800 movie screens.

Because of the importance of these regional NATO groups, Film Journal International will be providing editorial space in each issue, 12 times a year, to report on legislative issues, business and media interests in TOMA’s geographical area and share profiles of the leading cinema operators in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.

We believe reporting on the news coming out of this important territory will be meaningful to our readers as well as informative for the operation of their businesses. In our June issue, there is a candid interview with both the executive director and president of TOMA, Todd Halstead and Byron Berkley, respectively. We hope you enjoy this new section—you can look forward to reading it in every future issue of FJI.