Showbiz Expo plots ’05 return

Trade show bounces back

HOLLYWOOD — Like a film franchise that went one sequel too many, Showbiz Expo, L.A’s trade show for pre-production and below-the-line, built to a big peak but quickly faded away. After a year off, though, the show will be back in 2005, this time under new management, at a new venue, with a new focus.

The show’s new owner, Connecticut-based JD Events, has announced that the 2005 edition will run Nov. 4-5 at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica.

“This will not be your father’s Showbiz Expo,” said Joel Davis, CEO of JD Events. “This is going to be a much more focused business-to-business event.”

The 2005 Expo will have four tracks: Production, post-production, digital distribution, and content creation. The show will focus on workflow between those areas and will partner with industry associations to arrange for content and speakers.

“We’re going to put a greater emphasis on education,” Davis said.

JD Events plans to limit the Expo to about 100 exhibitors and around 2,500 qualified attendees, limited to those with guild, union or association membership. “You’ll have to be somebody who works in the industry, as opposed to somebody who wants to work in the industry,” said Davis.

Show management also promises participation by the major studios and improved amenities. The company is assembling an advisory board from within the industry, including those key associations.

Davis hopes the Barker Hangar location, growing in popularity as a venue for industry bashes, will create a more flexible, fun atmosphere than the traditional L.A. Convention Center locale.

Showbiz Expo was launched in 1983 at the convention center and grew from a modest event in one meeting room to fill the center’s South Hall. The show reached a peak under the management of Reed Exhibitions (owned by the same company that owns Daily Variety) in the late 1990s.

But despite rapid growth and a surge in attendance, the show’s mission grew murky. Attendance was open to the public and many attendees seemed more interested in freebies than ordering equipment. Runaway production also hurt below-the-line firms and their marketing budgets, reducing the number of exhibitors.

Reed sold Showbiz Expo in 2000, and when a rival show, Cine Gear Expo, set up shop on the Universal backlot, many exhibitors moved to the new show. Showbiz Expo was sold again in 2003 and its new owner, Mindshare Ventures, merged it with a digital video conference to form a new event, Entertainment Technology World in June 2003. The remonikered event stumbled, though, and the show went dark in 2004.

By moving to a November date, the revived Showbiz Expo avoids head-on competish with Cine Gear Expo and a new show, Below the Line Expo. Those two trade shows will slug it out in June.

(Margo McCall of Daily Variety sister publication Tradeshow Week contributed to this report.)

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