News: ShoWest 2004 - Update
Movie Theaters Drawing Near Record Crowds
ShoWest is the world's largest motion picture
industry convention. The four-day meeting was jointly held at
Paris Las Vegas and Bally's from Monday March 22 to Thursday
March 25, and the organization kicked off the gathering by celebrating
its 30th anniversary.
Reflecting the good year that the movie exposition business
enjoyed in 2003, for the first time, ShoWest attendance rocketed
past the 2,700-delegate mark. Representatives attended from
45 countries in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
The convention consists of seminars, film screenings, demonstrations,
and a trade show hyping the fast food products and technology
to help improve the movie-going experience and hopefully, the
theater owner's bottom line. The meeting closed with a banquet
at which the exposition community recognizes the top tier A-list
movie stars, directors, and producers of the previous year.
Founded by the National Association of Theatre Owners of California
and Nevada, ShoWest is managed by the VNU Expositions Film Group,
a division of VNU Business Media.
Jack Valenti, president and CEO of the Motion Picture Association
of America (MPAA) addressed the theater owners for the 38th
and last time. Valenti, who announced his retirement from MPAA
at ShoWest, reported that 2003 box office totaled $9.5
billion, the second largest in the history of the movie industry.
According to MPAA, of the 473 films released last year, member
companies of the MPAA distributed 198 of these. The average
cost of making and marketing a film in 2003 was $102.9
million, a 15 percent increase over the same figure in 2002.
"There's not much more that can be said except budget discipline
will be a fervid priority among studio executives," Valenti
says. He commented that the highest percentage of frequent moviegoers,
those who view more than one film per month, remains in the
16-20 year old age group. But the 50-59 age group movie attendances
surprisingly rose by 20 percent last year. "The human desire
to be entertained is ageless and changeless and delightfully
boundless. It is an asset devoutly to be treasured," Valenti
Film piracy is still a big concern for the National Association
of Theatre Owners (NATO). A panel discussion on anti-piracy
practices was held and a pamphlet was distributed at the show,
which helps theater owners learn what to look for in order to
combat camcorder piracy. John Fithian, President of NATO, says,
"We are pleased to join the MPAA in efforts to educate theatre
employees about ways they can help to combat the scourge." The
MPAA established a hotline number that can be used seven days
a week to report criminal violations.
Progress continues to be made in the transition from film to
digital cinema. The major studios and theatre owners are coming
together to craft specifications for the technology. Fithian
adds, "We are very encouraged that the business models are finally
coming together. We are also hopeful that studios and theatre
owners can design digital cinema security specifications that
will protect us against piracy without interfering with normal
business operations within the cinema."
At the IMAX Corporation presentation, the company encouraged
the moviemakers to consider formatting their films for presentation
on their large screens. The success of the "Matrix" series in
2003 was cited in which the second and third sequels were shown
simultaneously in IMAX during the regular run of this film in
theaters. IMAX reported no cannibalization of product, and that
the typical IMAX "Matrix" moviegoer was seeing the film for
the second time. The company claims that IMAX format presentation
can add, on average, about $50 million to the movie studios'
IMAX, who opened 2004 with Disney's "The Young Black Stallion,"
is currently in negotiations to bring more movies to their large
screen houses. In Las Vegas, there are currently two IMAX screens;
one at the Luxor and the other at the Palms Hotel-Casino.
The film booking process is complex whether for the regular
theater or the IMAX, according to Joseph A. Girouard, director
of corporate relations and promotions for the Brenden Theatres
at the Palms. "A lot of film selections are based on relationships,"
Girouard says. "Bookings are done on a quarterly basis. There
are different kinds of deals. Percentages [of gate] are negotiated.
Every single film is different." Brenden, which opened its doors
in the fall of 2001, is in the process of building up its business.
About 10,000 to 15,000 moviegoers come through their doors weekly.
The typical movie customer is over 21 years of age and their
theaters do not tend to draw many teen-agers, Girouard said.
R-rated movies work well here.
Independent filmmakers sometimes approach Brenden Theatres.
"People with no distributor," he says. "They want a run of a
few days or a few weeks." Since there is no guarantee of box-office
success, booking and predicting the hits is a risky business.
"We missed out with 'The Passion of Christ,'" Girouard admits.
There are three competitive booking zones in Las Vegas and Brenden
is in the same zone as the Century Orleans. "Theaters will negotiate
with the studios," he says. "Within a five-mile radius,
the compromise is to share product. In an ideal world, product
would be shared fifty-fifty. Realistically, it is a battle;
give and take."
For more info, visit www.showest.com