The National Assn. of Theater Owners gathers in Las Vegas for its annual Showest exhibition and convention Feb. 4 to 8.

Attendance is expected to top last year’s turnout, which numbered over 5,200 registered attendees. Representatives from 23 countries are expected this year.

As in years past, the convention this time will see the Bally’s Grand Hotel convention floor filled with the latest advances in soft-drink and popcorn delivery systems, projectors, seats and usher uniforms. The surrounding seminar rooms will echo with the latest theories on employee management, cost control and quality maintenance.

Wining and dining

In the afternoons and evenings, exhibitors will be wined and dined in banquet halls, where they will watch trailers for coming releases and, in some instances, see the stars of yesterday and tomorrow. This year, celebrities will include “Pretty Woman” star Julia Roberts, “Ghost” director Jerry Zucker and “Home Alone” writer-producer John Hughes.

Billy Crystal will be named “Comedy Star Of The Decade.” Robin Givens and Richard Grieco will be honored as female and male “Star Of Tomorrow,” and Brian Bosworth “Action Star Of Tomorrow.” Further awards include “Showester Of The Year” to Sumner Redstone, owner of National Amusements, and the Sherrill C. Corwin Humanitarian Award to William Kartozian, NATO president.

Additional awards will be delivered by Entertainment Data Inc. to 1990 cinematic releases that grossed more than $100 million.

But the mealtimes may see less than the traditional frivolity. While in years past each luncheon and dinner through the week’s festivities was sponsored by a major studio or production company, this year’s sponsorships are dramatically off. Although Orion and New Line will host lunches, and Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Miramax will sponsor evening events, all of the dinners this time around will go without sponsorship.

While Tri-Star, Columbia, MGM/UA, Universal, Cannon and Studio Three Film Corp. will be holding open hospitality suites, none is hosting an evening event. Disney, Paramount and Warner Bros. have bowed out almost entirely, and will not have official, open-to-the-public hospitality suites.

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