john fithian NATO
Eli Meir Kaplan for Variety

John Fithian is the president of the National Assn. of Theatre Owners, which is hosting annual exhibition confab CinemaCon through March 27 in Las Vegas.

How much longer do you feel peace on the windows front can last between exhibitors and studios?
Peace could last a long time. Instead of fighting in public, like we did in 2011, distributors and exhibitors are working together to grow the business through innovative theatrical release scheduling; with “super ticket” sales that include home downloads; and via revenue-enhancing alterations in home market windows.

How can theater owners better serve the nation’s changing demographics?
Hispanics constitute the fastest-growing part of the population and are the most avid moviegoers, at six trips to the cinema per year. Our distribution partners are giving us movies that appeal to diverse audiences and even foreign language productions (e.g. “Instructions Not Included”). 2013 also saw the best slate of movies with African-American casts.

Are you continuing to get pushback from studios regarding guidelines for shorter trailers?
The first rule of Fight Club is you don’t talk about Fight Club. Exhibitors are discussing implementation of these voluntary guidelines with their studio partners.

How do mom and pop theaters stay in business today?
Consolidation has brought healthy, consumer-friendly competition among our biggest members. At the same time, hundreds of smaller operators continue to thrive by knowing and catering to their local markets, by managing the transition to digital cinema, and by sheer sweat equity.

With studios releasing fewer films, is America over-screened?
Other distributors are stepping in to fill the space. Lionsgate has grown from midsize indie to major studio status. And new models like Open Road, and the project from Bob Simonds, Tom McGrath and Noah Fogelson show that exhibitors and moviemakers can work together.

 

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