By Pat Kramer (published in Variety)
Those attending this year’s ShoWest convention, will find themselves uniquely positioned to receive information on the latest trends, challenges and opportunities in the exhibition industry. The Monday – Thursday convention features six seminars on a variety of topical issues ranging from new trends in building design to innovative strategies for increasing concessions and handling weekend crowds. Exhibitors will also get a sneak peak at emerging technology in digital cinema and will hear the results of a AC Neilsen EDI’s most recent survey on moviegoers’ habits. Whether one is an exhibitors, distributor, concessions sales or equipment manufacturer, this year’s event promises to provide relevant information for companies of all sizes and capabilities.
Monday is International Day, offering two seminars related to international exhibition and distributions. While the morning seminar features a panel from leading exhibition companies worldwide, the afternoon seminar will provide the studios’ perspective on ways to work product into an already satiated marketplace. Panelist Duncan Clark, president of Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International notes, “We will be discussing the marketing of product, what territories are opening up, fiscal disadvantages we’re suffering and what opportunities we’re experiencing. I think every distributor is now operating inside this highly-competitive arena where there are, basically, less screens. That means less opportunity for hold-overs and move-over’s. Add to that [the fact that] there are more films, not only American traffic but a great burst of local product in many countries. There are some real issues that every responsible distribution company has to take into account.”
On Tuesday, moviegoers’ buying habits will be revealed at AC Nielsen EDI’s afternoon presentation, “Movie Views.” “We spent a lot of time [examining] the actual process that moviegoers go through when they decide what to see,” says Tom Borys, president, AC Nielsen EDI, about their survey of more than 15,000 moviegoers last year. “One of the things we asked is, when they decide what they’re going to go see at the movies. We found that about 44% know, more than a day in advance, what they’re going to see, while 25% decide between 1 and 3 hours before going to the movies. That kind of finding would be very important to marketers because those audiences are using two different processes when picking a film. Someone who is deciding what to see right before they go is not necessarily relying on television to make their choice. They’re probably much more influenced by newspaper, the marquee, the standee or other factors. Whereas, someone who has made the decision more than a day in advance has probably factored in all the influences they’ve gotten from TV and other media.”
On Wednesday, the focus shifts to concessions sales at the National Association of Concessionaires and Nestle’s presentation, “Using Customer Surveys to Improve Concessions Sales.” Later that morning, a panel of leading architects and shopping mall developers examine the growing trend of entertainment and retail joint ventures in “The Entertainment Experience of the 21st Century.” Moderator Tim Warner, president, Cinemark International, explains, “The primary focus of the panel is going to be the coming together of entertainment and retail as the future of the out-of-home entertainment experience. The public is demanding more of a full experience outside the home. In addition to going to the movie theatre, they also want great restaurants, nightclubs and shopping for an experience that might last 5 – 6 hours instead of going to the movies and going home. Whereas before, [developers] would build a traditional mall with a small theatre and large department stores, now the traditional mall is featuring more of a large theatre and boutique shopping. The whole concept of retail is really changing dramatically as to what’s driving the traffic.”
Closing out the day, ShoWest will showcase a special presentation introducing new digital presentation technology, an event which ShoWest Chairman Milt Moritz says will be of particular interest to all: “This will be a very, very interesting demonstration because it will show off the capabilities of what the future will bring in the way of digital transmission replacing 35 mm rolling stock. We will have a side-by-side presentation on an 80 foot screen using the same footage, in sync, so you can compare one against the other.”
The last presentation, taking place on Thursday, reveals the power and the glory behind, “Managing Top-Grossing Megaplexes.” Top executives from Sony’s Lincoln Square, Pacific’s Winnetka Theatres, Cinemark’s Tinseltown, Loeks Star’s Southfield Theatres, and AMC’s “The Block” will share their operational successes and challenges for handling crowds of 15,000 to 27,000 per week.
Following the last seminar, a presentation will follow by featuring clips of upcoming product from the studios and several independents in the Exhibitor Relations Presentation providing exhibitors with a look at what’s in the works.
“We’re very excited about this year’s ShoWest seminars and presentations,” says Moritz. “There’s something for everybody here and we believe everyone will walk away with a better understanding of their business.”