The historic debut of Black Panther reinforced important themes–diversity in casting and content, emphasis on a 12-month release calendar–that we have emphasized for years. We saw this as an opportunity to magnify these themes by speaking with key media outlets:
National Association of Theater Owners CEO Calls ‘Black Panther’ Film Historic
National Association of Theater Owners CEO John Fithian says the release of Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” is historic due to its cast and mid-February release. He speaks with Bloomberg’s Vonnie Quinn and Shery Ahn on “Bloomberg Markets.”
With $218 Million Haul, ‘Black Panther’ Smashes Box Office Records
Phil Contrino, director of media and research for the National Association of Theater Owners, noted the power of seeing “Black Panther” in a communal setting on a big screen. “Hopefully someday we’ll look back at the release of ‘Black Panther’ as the turning point when diversity and positive representation in blockbusters switched from being an anomaly to being normal,” Mr. Contrino said.
‘Black Panther’ Box Office Success Has Theater Owners Asking for More Diverse Superhero Movies
More “Black Panthers” and “Wonder Womans,” please.
That’s the message that John Fithian, the top lobbyist for the exhibition industry, is hoping to convey to studios in the wake of the two superhero movies’ blockbuster success. Their massive box office hauls confirm something that Fithian, head of the National Association of Theatre Owners, has been pushing for years. Diversity is good for business.
“Theater owners have been asking for more diversity in movies for a long time, and by diversity we mean diversity in casting and diversity in times of the year when movies are released,” said Fithian, who notes that “Black Panther” is barreling toward the $1 billion mark at the box office, despite debuting in February.
Disney’s ‘Black Panther’ Playbook: A Peek at the Marketing of a Phenomenon
“The look and feel and timing of the marketing was extremely effective,” says Patrick Corcoran, vp of the National Association of Theater Owners. “It announced that this movie was different. Ryan Coogler was eloquent on how movies mattered to him. Everything about the way the movie was marketed built excitement and interest in seeing it. This mattered to the African American community. Diversity sells tickets.”
The February box-office success of ‘Black Panther’ is a rarity for the movie business — but industry insiders say that’s about to change
“We have struggled off and on with the distribution patterns of big movies concentrated on the summer when schools have vacation and the winter holidays, and often those big movies can cannibalize each other because they come right after the other,” John Fithian, the president and CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners, the trade organization representing movie-theater owners, told Business Insider. “Strong content can play in any month and can have more room to play in the nontraditional months.”
What Black Panther‘s Success Means for the Future of Movies
“Black Panther crossed the must-see threshold very quickly over the weekend,” says Phil Contrino, head of media and research for the National Association of Theatre Owners. “Millions of people felt compelled to experience the film in a communal setting. Look at social media and you’ll see thousands of pictures of people with their friends and family at theaters.”
NATO and The Hollywood Reporter hosted a panel at the Sundance Film Festival this year to talk about the current state of exhibition. We believe that having a presence at film festivals is a crucial part of telling good stories about the strength of exhibition. We want to make sure that filmmakers continue to aim for theatrical as their ultimate goal.
Nikkole Denson-Randolph, Vice President Special and Alternative Content, AMC Theatres: “We think of our theaters as communal touch points. We cater to those communities. … Certain films can get noticed by certain communities. You have to look at each one differently.”
Fred Berger, producer of La La Land and I Think We’re Alone Now: “As long as I’ve been in the business people have said that cinema is dead, theatrical experience is over, cinemas are gone, and I’d wager that the rest of my lifetime and all of our lifetimes we’re all going to be going to the movies.”
Tom Quinn, Founder/CEO, Neon: “We know the kinds of filmmakers we want to work with and we believe that they are best suited to a theatrical experience.”
“Cinema for me is not just what filmmakers make, it’s how we release it, and it’s how we enjoy it together, and I think that’s crucial because it takes a commitment … it’s a commitment to get out of your house and go see a film. The films that demand that attention from you can challenge you more. Films that you are seeing at your beck and call on your iPad don’t demand as much of you.”
(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
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 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.”
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.