The National Association of Theatre Owners said tonight that it has canceled CinemaCon 2020, which had been set for March 30-April 2 in Las Vegas. The news comes two weeks after NATO said it was holding firm on its confab despite some cancellations from China over coronavirus concerns.
The news comes as a great relief to the distribution and exhibition community who feared about the prospects of heading to Caesar’s Palace, and the potential germs that come with a Las Vegas casino. The upside we’ve heard is that NATO is actually insured for the cancellation of the event.
It took NATO some time to cancel, and that’s largely because no major studio wanted to be the first to pull out. The last message that distribution and exhibition wanted to send to the world is: If it’s unsafe for us to congregate in a large theater, why should America? But that’s really not the point. It’s not about sitting in a 200-seat movie theater, it’s about attending a smoke-filled conference of 4K attendees at Caesar’s Palace.
We began hearing chatter that it was difficult for the studios to book talent for their presentations, and that such sessions would be limited to a screening and a string of trailers. Then word came in today that many smaller and mid-sized exhibitors, and distributors were already cancelling plans to attend.
Here is the statement issued tonight by NATO’s John Fithian and Mitch Neuhauser:
It is with great regret we are announcing the cancellation of CinemaCon 2020. 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.