CinemaCon is the official Convention of The National Association of Theater Owners (NATO). It was formerly known as Show West but changed its name five years ago. It meets every Spring in Las Vegas at The Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino. It brings together exhibitors, distributors, equipment and concessions manufacturers, marketers and advertisers as well as the entertainment press from all over the world, but primarily the U.S.A.It is comprised of 665 member companies representing 53,600 screens at 5816 locations in 80 countries.
NATO’s President and CEO, John Fithian, presented his annual “State of the Industry” speech on March 25, 2014. Among the many noteworthy things discussed was that Box office grew 1.2% domestically and 4.2% internationally in 2013. “The year 2013 in the U.S. brought the highest grossing Spanish language movie of all time with ‘Instructions Not Included’. Perhaps even more telling, more movies in 2013 featured more black actors in important roles that drove more patrons to the cinema. That’s why we saw substantial growth in movie going for African-Americans and other minorities”. Finthian revealed “the average ticket price in 2013 to be $8.13”.He added “there are a lot of old rules that don’t make sense anymore”.
A new direct distribution deal was announced between the four largest theater chains-Regal, AMC, Cinemark and Carmike in March and Roger Simond’s recently announced movie company, backed by investors TPG Growth and China’s leading equity firm Hony Capital to distribute 10 mid-range budgeted pictures and bypass the tentpole fixated big studios altogether. “We don’t want to piss off the studios”, Simonds told Variety (March 25). His stated goal was to occupy a niche that no longer fits the business plan of the Big 6. (Warners, Disney, Sony, Fox, Paramount and Universal). Throughout CinemaCon, the Big 6 unveiled their future 2014 and 2015 distribution scenario.
Other important technological changes to the film industry were reported at the conference. The end of film and the transition to digital technologies is moving rapidly. Hollywood’s major studios are in the final days of distributing movies on film and are moving to hard drives and satellite. About 13% of the 5,672 U.S. theaters have not converted to digital. On average it costs about $70,000 per screen to convert to a 4K display with Dolby ATMOS for immersive sound. The estimated cost of a film print is now around $2,000. A digital print (DCP) cost is about $120 to duplicate and ship. Paramount announced it has ceased making film prints, while Warners, made only 200 celluloid prints for its smash hit “Gravity” which opened in more than 3000 locations.