• NATO Hails Opening of Saudi Arabian Movie Theater Market

    News Reel Blog   

    (Washington, D.C. and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. – 11 December 2017) The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) today praised the announcement by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the legalization of movie theaters.

    For nearly four decades the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has not permitted the operation of movie cinemas. Today, under the leadership and vision of HRH Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, cinema will return to the Kingdom.

    Several NATO member companies have developed extensive plans for cinemas in the Kingdom and stand ready to develop luxurious and cutting-edge movie theaters for all Saudis to enjoy.

    Led by NATO President & CEO John Fithian, a delegation from the association has been in Riyadh over the past week meeting with various government officials in anticipation of this announcement. Meeting with officials in the General Entertainment Authority and the Ministry of Information, the NATO team helped to facilitate the government’s support and proper regulation of the nascent industry.

    NATO’s John Fithian stated, “We are excited to witness the opening of the Saudi cinema market. Movies are one of the great shared pleasures that highlight our common humanity. The growing and young population of the Kingdom is hungry for the cinematic experience. We anticipate that the Saudi market will grow quickly.”

    Continued Fithian, “We are grateful for the leadership of HRH Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, and the hard work of the excellent staff of the General Entertainment Authority and the Ministry of Information. It has been an honor to play a small part in facilitating this historic decision.”

    The National Association of Theatre Owners is the largest exhibition trade organization in the world, representing more than 33,000 movie screens in all 50 states, and more than 32,000 additional screens in 95 countries worldwide. NATO is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with a second office in North Hollywood, California. www.natoonline.org


    Patrick Corcoran, NATO

    Vice President & Chief Communications Officer


  • NATO Projects the Voice of Exhibition on Capitol Hill

    News Reel Blog   

    On November 1-2, NATO members gathered in Washington, DC for the 2017 NATO Capitol Hill Fly-In.  The two-day program included a session with noted pollster Mark Mellman, an issues briefing, a private evening tour of the U.S. Capitol with Rep. Roger Marshall (R-KS) facilitated by AMC Theatres, and meetings with nearly 50 House and Senate offices.  NATO members advocated for legislation creating a notice-and-cure period to address the problem of ADA drive-by lawsuits; legislation amending the full-time employee definition to 40 hours per week under the Affordable Care Act; and legislation establishing a stricter joint employer standard.

    NATOPAC supporters enjoyed a breakfast with Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and an avid moviegoer.  Rep. Goodlatte discussed his committee’s priorities of immigration reform, criminal justice reform, and intellectual property protection.

    The NATO members who attended the fly-in represented the wide range of the industry, from national circuits to family-owned regional chains to Main Street cinema operators.  These dedicated participants projected the voice of exhibition on Capitol Hill to advocate for bills important to the health of the industry.

    Chase Fairchild of Fairchild Cinemas in Pasco, WA meets with Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA).


    NATO members gather in the Longworth House Office Building cafeteria for lunch during a busy meetings schedule.


    NATO members enjoy a private evening tour of the U.S. Capitol with Rep. Roger Marshall (R-KS).

  • Christopher Nolan Champions Theatrical Experience, Exclusivity In New Variety Interview

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    Christopher Nolan continues to be a huge champion of the theatrical experience. In an interview published today in Variety, Nolan weighs in on the power of theatrical, the importance of exclusivity, and other topics related to exhibition. Some key quotes:

    There’s one point on which Nolan is immovable. For months studios and theater owners have been negotiating a possible deal that would enable movies to be available on-demand within weeks of their big-screen debuts. In return for allowing a film’s home entertainment bow to intrude on the customary three-month period of exclusive access afforded big studio movies, theaters would get a cut of the rentals. Nolan thinks the plan stinks.

    “My entire adult life they have released straight-to-video films,” he says. “As a filmmaker, when I was starting out in the ’90s, your nightmare was the straight-to-video release. There’s nothing new about it — what’s different and new about it is selling it to Wall Street as innovation or disruption.”

    Nolan likes seeing movies in the theater, hailing the communal experience of watching a story unfold with an audience. He also believes that there are economic reasons not to muck with a distribution model that’s lasted for generations. He noted that book publishers still release hardcover copies before debuting paperback versions as a way of maximizing revenue. That same kind of windowed approach — one that differentiates between a theatrical release, a home entertainment launch and television licensing — ultimately grows the pie, he reasoned.

    “Every other industry, whether it’s the car industry or whatever, controls when a product is launched. The idea that the film business should forget that and just throw everything together at the same time makes no sense,” Nolan says. “It’s not good business, and people will realize that eventually.”

    Read the full interview here. 

    In a July 2017 interview with the Associated Press, Christopher Nolan held firm in his pro-theatrical stance.

    AP: Because you’re such an advocate of the big-screen experience, you’re often asked about concerns about the demise of movie theaters. Is that tiresome?

    Nolan: I will say it’s tiresome. Now it’s streaming. Last film, it was television. Ten years ago, it was video games. Look, video games are great. People love video games. But people also need and love washing machines and they sell a lot of those. It’s just not relevant. We’ve always had TV movies, we’ve always had miniseries, we’ve always had straight-to-video movies. We’re making movies for the theater. And theatrical experience isn’t just about the size of the screen or the technology behind, although that’s a big part of it. It’s about an audience, the shared experience. What cinema gives you, unlike any other medium, is this fascinating and wonderful tension and dialogue between this intensely subjective experience you’re having from the imagery the filmmaker has put up there, and this extraordinarily empathetic sharing of that with audience around you. It’s a remarkable medium for that and that’s what defines it. What’s a movie? The only definition of a movie, really, is it’s shown in a movie theater.

    Read the full interview here. 

  • Support for the Emergency Grant Program of the Pioneers Assistance Fund

    News Reel Blog   

    Most of you know about the Will Rogers Motion Pictures Pioneer Fund. But you may not be aware of that organization’s Bernie Myerson Emergency Grant program. Individuals employed by a motion picture theater company and who have encountered short-term, emergency financial stress, can apply for assistance. Many victims of Hurricane Harvey, and now Irma, have encountered such situations.

    What we have come to understand is the immediate need people have is money for rent and food. Most lost the food that was in their house (that they had stocked up on) and have been eating out. Many people have found a place to stay with family or a friend, however, they need food, toiletries, and clothing. They have been able to acquire a small supply of the mentioned items, from the relief programs, but not enough to last the entire month of September.

    The Pioneers Assistance Program will offer immediate aid in the form of an emergency grant in amounts of $250, $500, or $1000, with the maximum to any one person is $1000. If the maximum amount is to be given, the majority of the need must be for rent (for most cases they will pay the rent directly). The fund is prepared to help 1,000 people with an immediate need grant. They assume the average grant will be $500 (the average rent is approximately $800).

    FYI – the Pioneers Assistance Fund, in 2016, spent $780k, helping 210 people. The Texas crises, alone, could cost $500k, if 1,000 people need a grant of $500. Irma has already produced similar devastation in the Caribbean and is headed to Florida now. We will definitely need industry support to fund the program.

    Thanks for listening. And let’s all keep our fellow theater personnel, and indeed all victims of these storms, in our thoughts and prayers.

    John Fithian

  • Screen Daily: Why this summer’s box office results are not all doom and gloom

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    Below is an excerpt from Screen Daily’s recent take on the global box office in 2017. Read the full article here.

    “While disappointing outcomes in the US for titles such as The Mummy, Alien: Covenant and Baywatch — none of which cracked $100m there — helped send the summer off course, [Paul] Dergarabedian points to the bigger picture, which is that the year started strongly, and overall US box office is down only 4% for the year to date, not the 12% deficit presented by the summer period. Moreover, for the non-US international market, box office for 2017 is so far 3% up on 2016. The global box office is 1% up on last year.

    “It’s now a 365-day, 12-months-a-year business,” says Dergarabedian, who points to the success of first-quarter hits such as Beauty And The Beast, Get Out, Split and Logan. Studios are now looking at every week of the calendar as opportunities for major films, and are less reliant on the summer season.

    “We are in the middle of the horse race,” he adds, “and we’ve still got a long way to go. By the end of that race with Justice League, Thor: Ragnarok, Blade Runner 2049 and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, who knows? We could be looking at close to a record.

    “With the international [box office] being up right now, we’ve been close to $40bn worldwide for two years now, and we could be close to that again this year, despite all the naysayers and the pessimism that has pervaded the narrative.””