Pulse of the Industry
by John Fithian
At ShoWest 2005 NATO members experienced
enhanced partnerships, reviewed the state of the industry,
witnessed new and exciting technologies, confronted serious
challenges, and contemplated future product.
As the breadth of press coverage suggested,
we enjoyed a very busy and productive week in Las Vegas.
Though space limitations for my monthly column do not afford
a complete review of the industry’s most important
convention, I offer some highlights.
The MPAA-NATO Partnership
is Stronger than Ever. As the
new head of the Motion Picture Association of America,
Dan Glickman came to his first ShoWest with forceful grace.
Encouraged by strong industry numbers from 2004 but troubled
by the threat of movie theft, Dan demonstrated insight
and leadership through his speeches, at our joint press
conference, and in many private meetings with NATO committee
members. Dan showed us his love of the theatrical experience
and his commitment to partner with NATO and our members.
As a reflection of those partnerships, many other MPAA
executives came to the convention, to participate in panel
discussions, attend NATO committee meetings, outline their
efforts on matters of mutual concern, and learn more about
the exhibition industry. I offer my thanks to Dan and the
entire MPAA team for their energetic participation in the
The State of our Industry
is Good. Together, Dan and I reviewed the state of the movie industry
for the assembled
delegates and press. Box office was strong in 2004. And
even though admissions dipped slightly from 2003, last
year still represented the third year in a row in which
U.S. admissions exceeded 1.5 billion – a number not
reached previously since 1959. International box office
and admissions grew significantly in many territories;
in Europe, admissions exceeded one billion for the first
time. Studio negative costs were down and DVD sales were
up. I applaud those trends, because more profitable studios
can produce more and better movies for exhibition in our
Exciting New Technologies
are Coming. On the trade floor, in the equipment suites and on the
big screen, new and
exciting technologies were on display. I am pleased with
the evolution of digital cinema technologies, particularly
the projectors and servers, two fundamental components
of a comprehensive digital system. We also learned that
the studios’ digital cinema technical specifications
are nearing completion and reflect much input from NATO
and its members. Throughout the week, various digital cinema
technology companies announced interesting deals and developments.
Many of our members responded quite favorably to a demonstration
of new 3D exhibition technologies that will be made possible
with digital projection.
Movie Theft Presents
an Enormous Challenge. Though
digital cinema and other opportunities punctuated the
serious challenge of movie theft also received the attention
it deserved. During international day, at the opening ceremonies,
in private NATO and MPAA meetings, and in a comprehensive
panel discussion, we reviewed the nature and the magnitude
of the problem while outlining our joint strategies and
activities to combat this scourge. (NATO’s Kendrick
Macdowell describes many of these actions in his column).
I appreciate the important contributions that the MPAA’s
John Malcolm and Stacy Carlson, along with Disney’s
Richard Atkinson, made to the panel discussion. More than
ever before, ShoWest 2005 demonstrated
that the MPAA, its member studios, NATO and our theatre
companies stand united against movie theft.
Future Movie Product
Looks Very Bright Indeed. Throughout
the week in Vegas delegates were treated to exciting product
reels and feature presentations, as well as a few stars
to promote their films. The late spring and summer release
schedule looks jammed with wonderful product. In particular,
I want to thank Tom Rothman, Jim Gianopulos, Bruce Snyder
and their team at Fox for the amazing final day luncheon,
as well as Jeff Blake, Rory Bruer and their team at Sony
for their world premiere party Wednesday evening.
We look forward to next year’s