CinemaCon: Fox Execs, Exhibs Miffed at John Fithian’s ’12 Years a Slave’ Comment

Jon Fithian CinemaCon
Michael Buckner/Getty Images

NATO president admitted to not seeing the Oscar picture winner in theaters

Not one to shy away from ruffling some feathers, John Fithian, prexy of the National Assn. of Theater Owners, may have gone too far when he admitted during his keynote speech Tuesday at CinemaCon to purposefully avoiding Fox Searchlight’s Oscar picture winner “12 Years a Slave” in theaters.

Speaking in front of the packed Colosseum at Caesars Palace, full of exhibitors and studio execs, Fithian said “12 Years” was the only Oscar best picture nominee he didn’t watch in the theater.

“It’s not that I didn’t consider the movie worthy of watching. Quite the contrary,” Fithian explained. “’12 Years a Slave’ constitutes one of the most important movies of our generation. It’s simply that, for me, the movie was too unequivocally intense to watch in a cinema, so I waited and watched it at home.”

Fithian added that the personal admission was meant to illustrate the power of the movies in a theater.

It wasn’t a good enough explanation for Fox executives, some of whom walked out of the presentation because of the comment.

But it wasn’t just Fox that was miffed by the faux pas. Fithian’s remark perplexed plenty of other confab delegates, who couldn’t understand why, if the intention was to spotlight the power of the moviegoing experience, Fithian wouldn’t spotlight going to the movies for a film like, say, “Gravity” as a uniquely powerful cinematic achievement.

Lesson learned, hopefully.

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  1. Jay Sinn says:

    I have seen TYAS a number of times. Maybe I missed something, but at no time did I get the impression the movie, or the book upon which it is closely based, blamed “all whites” for slavery. Perhaps that is your conscience speaking.

    Regarding Obama: I am Black and did not vote for him, by the way. If incompetence and lying are your criteria for not voting for him, perhaps you should seriously consider never voting for a white male for President ever again.

  2. sr says:

    to walk out simply because the remarks weren’t to your liking shows complete and utter juvenility. Stick and stone may break my bones but names will never hurt me? Does it really matter whether or not he saw 12 years in a theatre? Perhaps he really didn’t agree that this film, like The Butler, was politically motivated by the progressives who for some damn reason believe now is the time to diss all whites as descendants of slave owners. We are Americans. Plain and simple. We are currently stuck with an incompetent, lying president who won solely on skin color and not on qualifications. If this is the best that the blacks can produce (and he’s half white but hates to even admit it), then perhaps there is not and should not be another black to ever occupy the WH.

  3. johntshea says:

    Each to his or her own. Walking out was a total overreaction.

  4. How silly. Some movies are indeed better watched at home vs the Theater. 12 Years a Slave is certainly one of those.

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