“PG-13 represents the sweet spot” for theaters, National Association of Theater Owners CEO John Fithian told a CinemaCon audience this morning. Last year there were only about a third as many PG films as R-rated ones, but they collectively generated nearly equal box office sales. The message: “Make more family friendly films and fewer R-rated titles,” Fithian says. “Americans have stated their choice.” He also wants studios to spread out their releases instead of focusing on holidays. “Any month can produce a $100M movie” he says noting the success Warner Bros had in October with Argo, Sony had in August with The Bourne Legacy, and Lionsgate had in March with The Hunger Games. “In most if not all of those cases, distribution in off months produced higher returns.”
The exhibition trade show chief also says that studios focus too much on men, and need to make more films for women and minorities. For example, Latinos are the top movie goers on a per capita basis. Fithian says that theaters are doing their part by diversifying the concessions they offer. “In many locations it is not dinner and a movie, it’s dinner at the movies.” And he congratulated NATO’s New York chapter for suing to block NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s anti-obesity effort to control sales of super-sized sugar drinks. “Cinema patrons deserve the freedom to choose their food….without the government choosing for you.”
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