CinemaCon 2020 has been canceled by its organizers due to concern over the rapid spread of coronavirus.
“It is with great regret we are announcing the cancellation of CinemaCon 2020,” said a statement from NATO’s John Fithian and Mitch Neuhauser.
“Each spring, motion picture exhibitors, distributors and industry partners from around the world meet in Las Vegas to share information and celebrate the moviegoing experience. This year, due to the travel ban from the European Union, the unique travel difficulties in many other areas of the world and other challenges presented by the Coronavirus pandemic, a significant portion of the worldwide motion picture community is not able to attend CinemaCon. While local outbreaks vary widely in severity, the global circumstances make it impossible for us to mount the show that our attendees have come to expect. After consultation with our attendees, trade show exhibitors, sponsors, and studio presenters, NATO has decided therefore to cancel CinemaCon 2020. We look forward to continuing the 10-year tradition of presenting the largest movie theater convention in the world and joining our attendees in future celebrations of the moviegoing experience,” read the staement.
The annual gathering of global movie theater owners was scheduled to run March 30-April 2 in Las Vegas, and represented one of the few holdouts among mass entertainment industry gatherings to remain on the calendar.
While anxious Hollywood executives watched cancellations mount — SXSW, Coachella — and nations like China and Italy place populations on lockdown, CinemaCon didn’t budge until Wednesday.
The stance was frustrating for industry insiders, but perhaps understandable. Many sources observed that movie theater owners could not afford to signal to the American public that it is dangerous to congregate in a theater, as the convention does each year in the Colosseum at Caesars Palace.
Presentations from the likes of Universal, Warner Bros. and Paramount are splashy by design. showing off exclusive footage and trotting out top movie stars to excite the theater owners. Prior to cancellation, all those parties were planning leaner presentations and, many said, having trouble convincing rattled talent to hop on a private jet and share the public space of a Las Vegas casino.
Up to the 11th hour, the convention was prepared to offer wellness checks for casino staffers, increased staff in public restrooms, and individual bottles of hand sanitizer within every convention gift bag. Just hours before the tipping point, MGM Resorts (which does not own Caesars Palace) banned buffet-style eating in its Las Vegas properties.
In the Hollywood ecosystem, CinemaCon has been essential grip-and-grin meeet where film companies pledge undying loyalty to the multiplex, even as all they all devise their own streaming services and order up feature films to lure digital subscribers.