Renewed optimism for the future was the prevailing theme of ShoWest 2001, the 27th annual convention for theatre owners across the country and the globe, held March 5-8 at the Paris and Bally's resorts in Las Vegas. The calendar year 2000 was an especially turbulent one for the motion picture exhibition industry as several theatre chains filed for bankruptcy--a result of the rampant movie house building of recent years--and total box office receipts set a record only after a bountiful holiday season redeemed what had been a rollercoaster year. With 2001's returns so far outpacing last year as screen count gradually decreases due to the necessary closures of older, less profitable theatres, a brighter future for exhibitors already appears to be coming to pass--the key idea made by John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners, in his opening session remarks.
Figuring into this future are digital projection systems, as the trumpeting of new technologies by companies such as Boeing (who showed off its digital satellite transmission system with a screening of Miramax/Dimension's Spy Kids) and Technicolor Digital Cinema (who hosted ShoWest's Wednesday luncheon, which was capped off by a screening of clips in their system's format) all but drowned out the hype machine usually generated by the movie studios. Contributing to this was Hollywood's decidedly diminished presence at the event, with only Warner Bros. holding a traditional sit-down luncheon with talent and few other studios even holding basic product reel and/or film screenings. However, as in previous years, ShoWest came to a star-studded, Tinseltown-style close with its traditional Coca Cola-sponsored Final Night Awards and Banquet, honoring noteworthy film talent.
In addition to presenting special events and industry-related seminars on subjects such as Internet ticketing, ShoWest also holds a large industry trade show featuring the latest products for motion picture exhibition, from seats and sound systems to various food offerings for the concession stand.