2002 was a productive convention. My thanks to our partners at the
Sunshine Group for a beautifully managed week. And Belinda Judson's
this month is right on the mark. The convention demonstrated
that NATO is on the move and accomplishing a great deal, thanks
to our wonderful members. Permit me to highlight some of the significant
themes coming out of Vegas this year.
The Economics of Exhibition are Growing More Favorable. As
the largest gathering of our industry, ShoWest provided the first
opportunity for collective review of the industry numbers. And the
numbers were grand. Box office up at all-time record levels. Admissions
at a 4-decade high. Screen count declining. Companies emerging from
bankruptcy. I just sensed a more positive and optimistic aura at
the convention this year, and the state of the business must be
a big reason for that.
Exhibition's Efforts at International Coordination are Working.
After two years of collective efforts to improve international coordination
between exhibitors, I was proud to see the fruits of our labors
so perfectly displayed at ShoWest. At our panel discussion on Monday,
exhibition leaders from Japan, Europe and Canada joined me for a
ground-breaking discussion. Our outlook on important topics like
digital cinema is indeed united. Later in the week, we hosted a
private meeting of exhibition association leaders from 10 countries
to continue our efforts. A number of topics were discussed, and
we devised a joint lobbying strategy on the issue of digital cinema
technical standards. We will also be comparing notes in a formal
way in the coming months on a wide range of issues and challenges
confronting our respective members. Our next meeting will be in
Amsterdam in June.
Digital Cinema will Evolve in a Sensible, Organized Way.
At previous conventions, various technology companies have made
grandiose announcements about their plans for the rapid transition
to digital cinema. As we have all come to realize, technical standards
must be developed, costs must be apportioned appropriately, and
control of our destiny must be maintained. That's why so many aggressive
plans have fallen flat. This year, cooler heads prevailed. Instead
of big announcements, the convention offered a place to examine
the newest technology and equipment, to discuss ongoing standards
efforts, and to analyze the important business issues.
Exciting Movies are Coming. As I've stated before, it takes
good movies and good movie houses for our business to work. A large
part of our success in 2001 is due to the strong slate of films
from our partners in distribution and, equally important, the fact
that they released that product throughout the year. As we saw at
ShoWest, 2002 looks to be even better. Sony highlighted four coming
blockbusters with fun exhibits at their lunch on Thursday. MGM brought
us an exciting program of wild animals and intriguing trailers at
their lunch on Tuesday. And screenings of three major films and
four interesting independent pictures punctuated exhibitor optimism
about the future.
Ratings Compliance Efforts Continue. As Belinda suggests
in her column, we had a very productive ratings compliance meeting
at the convention. A full report has already been sent to the membership,
but I will use this space to re-emphasize the importance of these
efforts. The Federal Trade Commission will release another report
(their fourth) this summer. We must continue to improve our record,
particularly when it comes to ID checks at the box office.
come together to make NATO successful. Thanks to Mike Campbell,
our chairman, for his leadership at ShoWest and throughout the year.
Congratulations to Kurt Hall and Paul Johnson for their recognition
as ShoWester of the Year and International Exhibitor of the Year,
respectively; I appreciate all that United Artists and Hoyts have
done for NATO. Kudos to our consultants and attorneys who keep us
informed and out of trouble. And, most important, thanks to the
many members who participate in the convention and who volunteer
for NATO's many activities.
See you in Washington
for our board meeting and Capitol Hill Day!!