ShoWest 2009 Cautiously Optimistic

ShoWest 2009
Paris & Bally Hotels
March 30-April 2, 2009

ShoWest 2009 constitutes the largest annual gathering of the theatrical and motion picture distribution and exhibition industries in the United States.   The event which is the longest running trade show of its kind brings together the key decision makers from every major, regional and independent theatre circuit with the major International Film Distributors, as well as the manufacturers of products, services and technologies for the entire movie theatre industry. 

At the opening ceremonies on March 31st, Dan Glickman, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America,  addressed the forum.   While many American industries are faltering in the deep recession, Glickman presented an impressive array of statistics showing how worldwide box office has held its own in these tough times due to a surge in movie-going.

Next up was John Fithian who is the President and CEO of the Nation Association of Theater Owners.   Fithian ‘s speech pointed out:

(1) Going to the movies is a relatively inexpensive form of entertainment compared with the cost of going to concerts, sporting events and Broadway shows.

(2) “Movies have become an extraordinary escape valve. It’s a communal experience,….”

(3)Movie admissions are up by as much as 9%

(4) The average ticket price in the U.S. was $7.18 in 2008, up 4.4% from $6.88 the year before. That’s a far slimmer increase than tickets to sporting events or touring Broadway shows saw. The average price of a ticket for a Major League Baseball game jumped 10.1% to $25.43, while an NFL game ducat jumped 7.9% to $72.20.

(5) So far this year, box office revenue is up both domestically and overseas. That follows a record-breaking 2008, when worldwide box office revs clocked in at $28.1 billion, up 5% over the previous year. International receipts made up a hefty 65% of the pie at $18.3 billion, up 7.1%. Domestic revs of $9.8 billion rose 1.7%.

(6) The home video sector is down.  NATO stats showed that DVD revenues for the top 10 pics at the box office were down 15%.

(7) The major studios released 27 fewer pictures in 2008 — 162 vs. 188 in 2007. He said it’s a trend that should continue since it allows films more room to breathe at the B.O.

(8) The MPAA’s report also noted the sharp 33% year-to-year rise in the number of digital screens available worldwide. The growth spurt comes as Hollywood is increasingly embracing cutting-edge 3-D production techniques. 3D per auditorium grosses can exceed 2D grosses by 2X to 4X.

(9) That  Hollywood provides more than 50% of the films that play at the international box office.

(10) The movie industry generates jobs for thousands of middle-class workers, supports the exhibition industry and stimulates local economies. In January, Republican lawmakers successfully removed a provision from the stimulus bill that would have provided studios with certain tax incentives, arguing that if the box office was doing so well, Hollywood didn’t need any aid.

Glickman said he will continue to fight to have those incentives included in upcoming legislation.

The big news at Showest 2009 was the rapid maturation and economic potential of 3-D Cinema.  3D doesn’t work for every patron or every movie, yet it is a breakthrough technology equivalent possibly to SOUND and COLOR in the way films are exhibited.   It will serve to grow both the amount of money spent at the cinema, and the number of patrons attending-and for exhibitors that’s the name of the game. {The technology of 3-D will be addressed in our report on NAB 2009}.

The exhibitor must buy a 3D add-on technology to accompany the requisite digital projector.  Such offerings come from Dolby Laboratories, Master Image, RealD, and XpanD and Imax.    The choice of add-on technology is entirely in the hands of the exhibitor.  The various methods available offer a tradeoff between cost of glasses, type of screen required, portability among different projectors, and ownership versus leasing, all of which must be weighed by the exhibitor when making a choice.  

The closing night ceremony for the 2009 edition of ShoWest featured  top film industry talent at the final night banquet and awards ceremony.  Before the banquet there was a media opportunity with the honorees in the Press Room.

It was touching at the closing night seeing the great Roger Ebert honored for his brilliant career as a critic. Ebert, who has suffered greatly from a cancer of throat and mandible, graciously accepted the award with his marvelous wife at his side. “Let’s ask ourselves,” he said, “how many of us would choose FAST AND FURIOUS for a night out at the movies over other indie films? They motivate adults to attend movies.”

Showest 2009 Final Night Talent Awards

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Click a picture to see a larger view.

Showest 2009 - Bradley Cooper Showest 2009 - Chris Pine Showest 2009 - Denis Quaid Showest 2009 - Michael Bay Showest 2009 - Michael Caine Showest 2009 - Rachel McAdams Showest 2009 - Sienna Miller Showest 2009 - Sorority Row Cast Showest 2009 - Zac Efron Showest 2009 - Zack Snyder

Female Star of the Year – Rachel McAdams

Male Star of the Year – Dennis Quaid

Comedy Star of the Year – Bradley Cooper

Supporting Actress of the Year – Sienna Miller

Breakthrough Performer of the Year – Zac Effron

Director of the Year – Zack Snyder

Lifetime Achievement Award – Michael Caine

Vanguard Award for Excellence in Filmmaking – Michael Bay

Male Star of Tomorrow – Chris Pine

Female Stars of Tomorrow – Cast of “Sorority Row” (Briana Evigan, Leah Pipes, Rumor Willis, Jamie Chung, Audrina Patridge and Margo Harshman)

Coca-Cola Refreshing Filmmaker’s Award – Michael Montgomery  & Jerome Sable with Mary Murphy (“So You Think You Can Dance”)

While attendance was down from 2008, ShoWest 2009  was a most successful event helping exhibitors sample new technology and, of course, preview many of the Hollywood( “Up” in 3-D, “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen” etc.) and “Indie” (“The Hurt Locker”, “Easy Virtue”, Woody Allen’s “Whatever Works” etc.) films that will grace their screens later this year.

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