ShoWest 1997 has unveiled an impressive tentative agenda, with studio sponsors lined up well in advance for all lunch and dinner events.Chairman Dan Wheatcroft said corporate sponsors for all segments of the March 3-6 event in Las Vegas have been locked up since October, and enthusiasm is running high from both theater operators and distributors, which undertake large-scale tubthumping for their upcoming product. Because the size of the convention continues to be a concern, Wheatcroft said the org has capped registration again this year to keep things manageable. This year’s keynote address, which has been moved up to opening day, will be delivered by Frank Mancuso, chairman and CEO of MGM. There’s also a new award for Favorite Movie of the Year, which will be decided by movie patrons all over the U.S. who will have a chance to cast their votes from Feb. 7 through March 5. The winner will be announced during the March 6 ShoWest Awards telecast on TNT. Motion picture distributors on board include Buena Vista Intl., Sony Pictures Entertainment, New Line Cinema and Warner Bros., which are sponsoring lunches. Triton Pictures, Columbia TriStar Intl., Pepsi and Kodak are sponsoring early-evening receptions. Nestle will host a breakfast. Disney, which put on a huge show and dinner last year, won’t be there except for the Buena Vista Intl. lunch on Monday. Paramount, which sat out last year’s confab, and 20th Century Fox will underwrite dinners, and Coca-Cola is back as always for the lavish closing-night blowout. The annual awards show, which as reported earlier will be broadcast live this year for the first time, will precede the climactic Coke dinner March 6. To streamline seminars, panels of invited industry leaders will deliver their remarks on specific topics as part of overall presentations to large groups, after which delegates will attend smaller workshop sessions. As for the trade fair, Wheatcroft said the 70,000-square-foot tent layout has been reorganized to make better use of the space, with office and lounge areas moved to a connecting 4,000-square-foot tent. Wheatcroft added that he was encouraged by distrib and exhib response to plans for this year’s event. He said ShoWest has taken great pains to respond to concerns expressed by attendees last year, and he promised this year’s gathering, even with the self-imposed size restraints, would be much “bigger and nicer.”
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