Every year Film Brat and I get twitchy around February. It’s a good thing because we know another gathering of the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) is coming!
What is NATO? “It is the largest exhibition trade organization in the world representing more than 31,000 movie screens in 50 states, and additional cinemas in 80 countries world-wide. Membership includes the largest cinema chains in the world and hundreds of independent theater owners”.
Celebrating its 5th Anniversary at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, CinemaCon is a major opportunity to experience so much that has to do with films, theatre and those who put that together for us. From the trade show giving us a sneak peek into what luxuries await theater goers to the treat we all love at the movies it is surrounded by the studios bringing us what is to come.
So sit back and share our four day ride as we share everything we can about one of the best conventions ever!
After settling into our off-the-strip hotel (yes, a bargain nightmare at that!) Film Brat aka Jenise and I got up early to solidify our game plan and pick up our badges. There is something pretty awesome about walking into Caesars Palace and have the staff remember us. It was also great to see Heather and the gang from Rogers & Cowan who help get us organized and ready for the next four days. Honestly, we couldn’t do it without them!
Our first gathering is with the seminar of Rotten Tomatoes Critics Vs. The Audience. The panel included Matt Atchity and Grae Davis of Rotten Tomatoes along with Christy Lemire, Scott Mantz, Claudia Puig and legendary film critic Leonard Maltin. It was a fun afternoon talking about film favs and not-so-favs, what critics have to say versus the audience responses and a lot of laughs mixed in.
Then it was off to an opening day reception before the evening events really kicked in. Paramount Pictures served up there presentation highlighting the summer films of 2014. The audience was treated to CinemaCon’s Mitch Newhauswer, managing director, arriving via the ceiling dressed up in Ron Burgundy attire. He introduced the sizzle reel for NOAH, INTERSTELLAR, PROJECT ALMANAC, SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS 2 and HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2.
Of course all the cheers came up to full volume when Dwayne Johnson muscled onto the stage to talk about his upcoming film HERCULES. That was followed by TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES and wrapped up with the equally buff Mark Wahlberg sharing TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION.
The evening ended with a great gathering called “A Taste of Vegas” sponsored by Christie and RealD. Entertainment was provided by The Rat Pack as I was serenaded by Dean Martin! After a little to eat we couldn’t resist an opportunity to get a little camera time with all the Vegas talent in the room.
It was an excellent end to day one!
Getting up early there was no time to waste as the day began with “The State of the Industry: Past, Present and Future”. With opening words from Dan Harkins, owner and CEO of Harkins Theaters, Universal Pictures Chairman Donna Langley brought the films slated for 2014.
The audience was treated to a look at FIFTY SHADES OF GREY with Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan. Also, FAST AND FURIOUS 7, NEIGHBORS, LUCY, DUMB AND DUMBER 2 and my personal favorite A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST.
Angelina Jolie, looking stunning as ever, came to the stage to talk about UNBROKEN. This is a film about the life of WWII vet Louis Zamperini. As Jolie said, “I wanted to make this film because in the end its message is one that we all need now more than ever. It’s the journey of a man finding his way through the darkness and into the light”.
After Universals presentation the CinemaCon Trade Show floors opened for everyone. It is an amazing site as Sony Digital, Master Image 3D, Dolby Laboratories, BE3 and so many more present their newest technologies available for theaters. Also, the Coca-Cola Company and other goodies along with my beloved Nathan’s hotdogs shared a taste of what audiences love along with their movie experience.
The day is hardly done before the screening of the new Kevin Costner film DRAFT DAY. Along with Jennifer Garner and Denis Leary, this Ivan Reitman film tackles footballs infamous draft day.
Following the film is a switch to the comedy side of things with the screen of the Seth Rogen, Zac Efron and Rose Byne film NEIGHBORS. This is what happens when a 30-something couple is invaded by the new frat neighbors.
The evening concluded with a gathering to watch the absolutely amazing hip-hop crew Jabbawockeez and the DJ crew The Bangerz. Throwing in a little beer pong and frat house food made the evening a lot of fun.
We are starting to feel the need for sleep!