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Tuesday, April 19, 2022

CinemaCon 2022 takes shape

Film Flam Flummox


A mere eight months after its COVID-delayed, unusually summer-set 2021 edition, CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners, will hold its annual four-day bash in its normal springtime slot next week, April 25 through 28. While some blanks still remain (perhaps owing to in-flux plans by studio and potential talent participants), for the most part, the schedule has taken final shape.

Studio Presentations

Sony Pictures, Neon, Warner Bros., Disney, Universal, Focus, Paramount, Lionsgate

Nearly all of the 2021 participants--Sony Pictures, NEON, Warner Bros., Disney, Universal/Focus (again doing a combined program), Paramount, and Lionsgate--will return this year for official presentations. The one exception is MGM/United Artists Releasing; with the company's recently closed sale to Amazon, the studio's strategy on theatrical releases going forward is likely still yet to be fully determined. Given that Amazon Studios was once a regular at the convention in its early years (and would proclaim, in large signage, its love for movie theatres), and MGM's storied history as a theatrical distributor, I am cautiously optimistic that the merged entity will make a return to the conference in a future year. Receiving the plum post-State of the Industry address slot on the Tuesday morning is NEON, which will certainly help up the profile of the edgy indie's upcoming release slate. Also of note is Warner Bros. once again branding their presentation (scheduled for late Tuesday afternoon) "The Big Picture" after not applying the name in 2021, implying a return to the celebrity appearance-heavy modus operandi of previous years.

Beyond the traditional on-stage presentations, two studios have secured two supplemental event slots:

As a bit of a pre-game for its Wednesday afternoon presentation, Universal will be screening Scott Derrickson's much-buzzed-about horror thriller The Black Phone, reuniting the director with his Sinister lead Ethan Hawke. Following well received preview screenings at two different genre festivals last fall (Fantastic Fest in September and Beyond Fest in October), the film is now set for theatrical release in a prime summer spot on Friday, June 24. A screening at the big exhibitors' conference of the year is a further sign of confidence in the film.

Paramount, which has taken over what had been the traditional Friday morning slot for 20th Century Fox pre-Disney acquisition, has not only staked out a three-hour block for its stage presentation in order to screen the long-delayed Top Gun: Maverick in its entirety, but the festivities will spill over into the day's midday slot. Director Joseph Kosinski, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, star Glen Powell, and Paramount President and CEO Brian Robbins will discuss the film and the state of exhibition at a lunch program following Paramount's screening and formal presentation.

The State of the Industry


While box office receipts have rebounded since the last CinemaCon thanks in large part to a certain web-slinging blockbuster, certain questions about maintaining attendance as the COVID-19 pandemic is still very much ongoing, especially during stretches without tentpole releases. Undoubtedly this issue, and the ever-shrinking-to-nonexistent theatrical windows, will be a primary concern in NATO President and CEO John Fithian's traditional Tuesday morning address.

NATO Launches The Cinema Foundation

NATO Cinema Foundation

Likely to go under-covered by media--and, as readers of all my work here since 1995, of particular interest to me--is NATO's official launch of The Cinema Foundation, a non-profit centered on increasing diversity in the workforce within the motion picture exhibition industry in addition to outreach to diverse moviegoing communities. A Wednesday morning panel on the organization, its mission, and endeavors moderated by Jackie Brenneman, EVP & General Counsel of NATO and President of The Cinema Foundation will mark the foundation's official introduction to the exhibition community and the world at large.

Big Screen Achievement Awards

The one large, remaining hole in the week's programming are the names of the talent being recognized at the traditional Thursday night closing event, the Big Screen Achievement Awards. Usually names are announced gradually in the couple of weeks leading to the convention, but word is all of this year's honorees will be announced in one fell swoop sometime this week. Stay tuned here for the latest.

The Movie Report's NATO Convention Coverage since 2001

I have been attending and covering NATO's official convention for most years since the year 2001, when it was still known as ShoWest. It is still very much uncertain I will attend this year or not. If "not" is the case, it will most emphatically not be by my own choice, as it was for last year, but I will still attempt in absentia coverage even though it did not work nearly as well as intended and hoped.

All the same, stay tuned here all next week for some manner of coverage of a CinemaCon 2022!

(Very special thanks to Heather Lewandoski and the entire team at Rogers & Cowan for all their helpful and generous assistance at the convention, as well as Mitch Neuhauser and the CinemaCon crew and John Fithian, Jackie Brenneman, and the National Association of Theatre Owners)

The Movie Report wants to attend all your film special events! Please send any and all invitations to this address. Thanks!

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