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Cinemacon 2020 Cancelled Over Coronavirus Concerns

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  • Cinemacon 2020 Cancelled Over Coronavirus Concerns

    March 11, 2020 7:55pm PST
    By Matt Donnelly

    2020 has been canceled by its organizers due to concern over the rapid spread of coronavirus.

    “It is with great regret we are announcing the cancellation of CinemaCon 2020,” said a statement from NATO’s John Fithian and Mitch Neuhauser.

    “Each spring, motion picture exhibitors, distributors and industry partners from around the world meet in Las Vegas to share information and celebrate the moviegoing experience. This year, due to the travel ban from the European Union, the unique travel difficulties in many other areas of the world and other challenges presented by the Coronavirus pandemic, a significant portion of the worldwide motion picture community is not able to attend CinemaCon. While local outbreaks vary widely in severity, the global circumstances make it impossible for us to mount the show that our attendees have come to expect. After consultation with our attendees, trade show exhibitors, sponsors, and studio presenters, NATO has decided therefore to cancel CinemaCon 2020. We look forward to continuing the 10-year tradition of presenting the largest movie theater convention in the world and joining our attendees in future celebrations of the moviegoing experience,” read the staement.

    The annual gathering of global movie theater owners was scheduled to run March 30-April 2 in Las Vegas, and represented one of the few holdouts among mass entertainment industry gatherings to remain on the calendar.

    While anxious Hollywood executives watched cancellations mount — SXSW, Coachella — and nations like China and Italy place populations on lockdown, CinemaCon didn’t budge until Wednesday.

    The stance was frustrating for industry insiders, but perhaps understandable. Many sources observed that movie theater owners could not afford to signal to the American public that it is dangerous to congregate in a theater, as the convention does each year in the Colosseum at Caesars Palace.

    Presentations from the likes of Universal, Warner Bros. and Paramount are splashy by design. showing off exclusive footage and trotting out top movie stars to excite the theater owners. Prior to cancellation, all those parties were planning leaner presentations and, many said, having trouble convincing rattled talent to hop on a private jet and share the public space of a Las Vegas casino.

    Up to the 11th hour, the convention was prepared to offer wellness checks for casino staffers, increased staff in public restrooms, and individual bottles of hand sanitizer within every convention gift bag. Just hours before the tipping point, MGM Resorts (which does not own Caesars Palace) banned buffet-style eating in its Las Vegas properties.

    In the Hollywood ecosystem, CinemaCon has been essential grip-and-grin meeet where film companies pledge undying loyalty to the multiplex, even as all they all devise their own streaming services and order up feature films to lure digital subscribers.


  • #2
    Broke my streak they did. I've been attending this show every single year since 1980. Marriages, heart attacks and various other maladies could not keep me away. Maybe I'll go and wander the hallways, haunting the place. I'll probably run into some poor sod from Lemon, SD who never got the news. Sad!


    • #3
      Well, Sam (nice avatar, with the same characteristic smile), if CinemaCon is not taking place, they might have broken its streak, but not yours.
      The more news about the spread of the virus coming up, the more the decision to keep the convention up, as they previously stated, seemed poor.
      On the other hand, that doesn't keep people from feeling sad to loose the chance for their annual meeting.


      • #4
        This has been a bad year for me on the whole meet-n-greet circuit. At the last minute (literally, the night before I was to leave) I had to cancel out of the ICTA Technical seminars in January due to what we think was FLU-B (stomach). I quickly recovered due to some miracle drug akin to Tamaflu. And now, I just finished cancelling the airline and hotel reservations to CinemaCon.

        I wonder if the manufacturers that were to have dealer meetings could, perhaps, set up webinars for the same times and we could have virtual meetings.

        Unfortunately, I think the ramifications of this virus are going to continue to impact our industry as tent pole movies are shifted to later in the year and overall attendance will drop due to fear of being around people.


        • #5
          The big annual NAB (National Association Of Broadcasters) trade show/conference in
          Las Vegas, which is usually held in April, has also just announced it is cancelling this year.


          • #6
            Throughout asia and europe, cinemas are being shut down temporarily due to the virus spread. Bad year.


            • #7
              Steve, first what is this miracle drug? Don't tease us!

              Second, I've got a prediction. I think the studios will use the Coronavirus to their advantage. I'll simplify and generalize...

              So hop back in time 20 years. The studios wanted to get rid of film to save money on their end. (Never mind that digital has proven to NOT be lower cost for the exhibitors in the long term.) They tried to push the technology and had a heck of a hard time getting it off the ground, so they devise the Virtual Print Fee in order to get everyone to convert, then dump film so theaters had no means to turn back. "FREE UPGRADES!!!" It seemed enticing and theaters that were converting first churned out higher numbers, just like everything from adding Dolby Stereo, THX, digital sound, stadium seating and so forth did. And the best part was "the theaters didn't have to pay for it". Yeah, that's just the ILLUSION of it all, but the illusion worked and the theaters converted in masses only to find out now that the 10 year model of tremendously expensive digital projection equipment replacement will actually only serve to hurt the exhibition industry in the overall picture. But let's forget about that.

              Double and triple prints were struck, then digital interlocking and finally the removal of booking zones brought us a new type of "opening weekend". The way the studios have made such a big stink with marketing the new movie releases has made each movie an "event" that "you're not cool if you don't see the new redux movie opening weekend". And as planned, everyone now races out on opening weekend to be part of the cool kid group, only to watch interest plummet in the movie by the second weekend. Yeah the studios make more money on subsequent weeks as well as streaming and video sales, but that opening weekend is the big immediate payoff cash cow. How to make it even bigger before interest falls off in the movie (often by poor reviews of all the remake slop) by the second weekend?

              Day and date releasing to people's homes, that's how! But how? The exhibitors and NATO have pushed back on their end to prevent this from happening!

              Enter Coronavirus. Now the studios have a legitimate excuse once theaters in the US start closing their doors temporarily to prevent the spread of the virus (which will happen) to test the whole "day and date release" of movies of a non-James Bond level. Whatever the first lackluster releases are will of course do EXTREMELY WELL and likely BETTER than if they had been given a theatrical release, because people will be locked up in their homes bored out of their mind and will be starving for that "opening weekend excitememt" which they can now plop down $30 (or whatever it ends up being) to stream it OPENING DAY in their Coronavirus-free homes. Those first few movies released will then set the precedent where more and more movies over the summer are released this way. NATO won't be effective in any attempt to stop it because the theaters they represent will be closed, and by the time the Coronavirus has stabilized and theaters start reopening their doors, the damage will have been done and day and date will be a normal way of life.

              And then theaters the way we all know and love them, will forever be changed, with most of them failing. The business model just isn't there any more. The only theaters that will survive will be the REALLY fancy ones with ALL of the screens and auditoriums having premium sound, very large screens and so forth. Theaters with lots of cost-cutting will simply close their doors.

              Pretty grim? Well yes, but I can absolutely see this happening.

              Meanwhile a call-out to all drive-in theaters who stand to do well this summer (at least up until the inevitable day and date releasing starts). Have you started advertising yet this year? Are you waiting for April or May to re-open your theater for the summer. Don't wait, do it now. And make sure your marketing is something along these lines "The drive-in is back open for summer. Pack up the family or bring your date out to see the newest movies at the drive-in. No kids distracting your movie with their cell phones! No crying babies! No sticky floors! Enjoy the latest brand new movie in the privacy and comfort of your own vehicle!" (You see where this is going. There is no need to specifically say "Coronavirus", but it will enter people's minds that they can still "get out of the house" and stay isolated.)

              Also make sure to install vending machines for 16oz bottled sodas and candy bars and so forth. Your concession stand likely won't be as high as you would expect given the number of cars on your lot, but at least your lot will have a lot more cars in it, and if you can start offering vending machines OUTSIDE the concession stand building, your patrons are more apt to go buy a bottled drink or a candy bar with their elbow instead of smuggling it in.


              • #8
                Excellent observation and sadly the reality.


                • #9
                  Sorry - didn't notice this thread before starting the other one in Ground Level. Brad - feel free to delete that one.


                  • #10
                    This could be a boom for Drive-Ins.