A Beautiful Day: Mid-Atlantic NATO switches to a one-day format for their eighth annual Cinema Show & Tell

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Cinemas Features

It’s short and sweet at this year’s Cinema Show & Tell. The annual trade show of Mid-Atlantic NATO, the show has shifted from its customary two-day format to just one, held in Springfield, Virginia on Wednesday, May 23. But don’t expect that a decrease in time spent means a decrease in quality.

The reason for the switch to the one-day format, executive director Doug Murdoch explains, was one of logistics. With CinemaCon happening on the late side and Solo: A Star Wars Story hitting theatres over Memorial Day weekend, it made sense for Cinema Show & Tell to plant itself in the last full week of May. “We know that everyone’s focus will be on a galaxy far, far away,” Murdoch jokes.

Since its inception in 2010, Cinema Show & Tell has always been about providing theatre owners and managers with the tools they need to run a better business—whether it’s a shorter, more flexible schedule or an array of panels on issues facing the exhibition business. Murdoch notes that he’s already getting positive feedback from people “who are happy to see that [the show] won’t take them out of their theatres during such a critical time of the year, with all the summer releases.”

The day kicks off with a membership breakfast, followed by “a very detailed session on legislation,” per Murdoch. On deck to provide their expertise will be Chris Gill, Virginia’s legislative advocate for Mid-Atlantic NATO, and Christopher J. Lyon from Simms Showers. Lyon will address a subject critical to the Maryland exhibition community: the state’s newly passed paid sick-leave law.

Later presentations come courtesy of National CineMedia—offering insight on what the modern moviegoer wants out of their theatrical experience through their Ask the Audience survey program, which you can catch a sample of every month in their FJI column—and MovieTeam, a subsidiary of Vista Entertainment Solutions. MovieTeam helps theatres streamline their scheduling, per Murdoch a very important component given an uptick of talk about “predictable scheduling and legislation. So they are the breakfast sponsor for us, and they will be doing a presentation.”

National issues affecting the exhibition industry will be addressed by NATO’s Esther Baruh and Belinda Judson during an afternoon session, to be followed by a talk on cyber threats from Lisa Schifferle of the Federal Trade Commission. And there’s the trade show, of course, boasting in the neighborhood of 30 vendors.

In addition to MovieTeam and NCM, this year’s Cinema Show & Tell sponsors include Sonic Equipment Company, which since 2012 has been the show’s official goody bag sponsor; SEB Security, sponsoring the show’s lunch; and Harkness Screens and Crystal Commercial Cleaning, as of press time two confirmed sponsors for Cinema Show & Tell’s scholarship program.

That program has always been one of the highlights of Cinema Show & Tell. This year the presentation has moved forward from its normal dinner slot to lunch—things intentionally wrap up in the late afternoon/early evening this year, giving attendees time to get home and be back at their theatres on Thursday morning—but what hasn’t changed is Mid-Atlantic NATO’s commitment to rewarding the young employees of member theatres. When we spoke, the application deadline had just passed and Murdoch was still paging through applications—but he predicted that around 15 or 16 college-bound teens would receive a collective total of $30,000.

All told, this year’s Cinema Show & Tell offers a full—but not too full—day of value for theatre owner managers. If you want the full two-day experience, fret not. As always, Mid-Atlantic NATO has partnered with Variety the Children’s Charity, which this year hosts their annual golf tournament the day before Cinema Show & Tell, on Tuesday, May 22. “It’s a great opportunity” for vendors and attendees alike, Murdoch explains. “They can network on Tuesday afternoon. Travel in the morning and golf in the afternoon. Have a nice dinner. Then get up in the morning and go to our event and head home in the evening. That’s a nice two-day package.”