ShoWest gets a bit bashful

Despite success, industry hype machine stalling

ShoWest is all about hype. The studios hype their upcoming slates, tech companies hype the latest projectors, Jeffrey Katzenberg hypes 3-D, and concessionaires hype their nacho cheese.

So why is the industry having such a hard time hyping itself?

The movie biz is, simply, doing great. B.O. hit record levels last year and is on track for even bigger numbers this year. But except for a wonderful Disney presentation full of strategic vision, there wasn’t much mojo on display at this year’s ShoWest from any other studio except for trailers and basic slate reels.

Instead, every speech, presentation and keynote turned what should have been exuberance into concern. “In these tough economic times … ” led every panel.

And it was more than being prudent and sensitive. It seemed disingenuous, because over the confab’s three days, clips for sure-to-be-huge films were trotted out: “Angels and Demons,” the next “Harry Potter” and “Terminator: Salvation,” among many other titles, got exhibs’ juices flowing. The MPAA’s Dan Glickman was jazzed over the industry’s ability to thrive during a recession, and “Monsters vs. Aliens” opened to a huge number just as everyone was gathered to hear — and finally see — how 3-D can line everyone’s pockets.

With no shortage of tentpoles, that means more butts in seats … which means more popcorn and Raisinets sold. Indeed, every concessionaire questioned said business is growing.

But nobody wanted to be on the record.

Seems being proud of profits is verboten.

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