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Friday, May 28, 2021

CinemaCon 2021: officially the most monumental and important ever

Film Flam Flummox

After the tumultuous year of 2020 that saw not only the cancellation of its 10th anniverary edition but the very existence of the global motion picture exhibition industry threatened like never before, the 2021 edition of CinemaCon, the annual convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners, was always going to hold even more weight than ever when held at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on August 23 through 26, if only to hear what will be NATO President and CEO John Fithian's most important "State of the Industry" address. But the following announcement sent out this morning confirms that this be the most important convention ever, even including its many pre-CinemaCon years known as ShoWest:

Yes, for the first time since 2018, all of the current major studios--Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., Universal (including subsidiary Focus Features), Disney, and Paramount--as well as longtime attendee/supporter Lionsgate and, in its first appearance in its current incarnation, United Artists Releasing/MGM, will be making presentations at the convention. This is a highly notable, and highly important, show of support for the exhibition industry, as the pandemic has hastened the shift to streaming by the legacy studios, who have almost all launched their own dedicated streaming platforms (Sony Pictures being the exception--and, ironically enough, the one major studio absentee at the last convention in 2019, and was also set to skip the ultimately cancelled 2020 edition). With the recent announcement that Amazon (a one-time regular at the convention, before Amazon Studios shifted its emphasis to streaming releases via its Prime Video subscription service) is in negotiations to buy MGM, that presentation will be of particular interest. More independent studios may yet sign on (Neon, which established a CinemaCon presence for the first time in 2019, is a strong possibility, as well as the reconfigured STXfilms/ErosSTX), but it is already shaping to be a full slate at the convention, and, hopefully, a surefooted sign of the studios' commitment to the big screen, communal cinema experience.

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