Strengthening the Cinema Community: Highlights from the North Central States NATO Annual Convention

This month, NATO was thrilled to join the annual convention of North Central States NATO, which represents movie theatres in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. This gathering of motion picture exhibitors and the industry’s vendor community from across the country always provides a great opportunity to discuss industry trends, share experiences, and strengthen the regional cinema community.

Special thanks go to Russell Vannorsdel, president of Fridley Theatres, for organizing the convention, and to dedicated volunteers like Dale Haider of North Central States NATO, Todd Tepley of Odyssey Theatres, and Fridley Theatres’ Kim Daniel and Alison Meyer, whose invaluable contributions made the event a success.

From the opening night reception and screening hosted by Flix Brewhouse to the tour of Fridley’s Palms Theatres & IMAX, the convention provided a fantastic opportunity to see cutting-edge innovations by independent exhibitors and reconnect with friends in the exhibition and vendor communities. Regional events are also a great opportunity to meet exhibitors like the father and son duo, Mike and Brad Schaefer, who run the Cinema Center & Holly Theatre in Beatrice, NE. They recently replaced their old letter-style marquee with a new electronic board, which has been a tremendous hit in the community. Supported by a state grant and additional funding from the City of Beatrice, this project exemplifies how exhibitors can leverage public support to enhance their cinemas. Another highlight was meeting Susy and Phil Prosapio of The Falls Theatre in Little Falls, MN, who have made significant contributions to their community through the reopening of the historic theater last year.

Regional conferences are also important platforms for independent theatre owners and industry vendors to share insights and learn from each other. At last week’s convention, NATO President & CEO Michael O’Leary, along with ITOC Chair Colleen Barstow of Omaha-based ACX Cinemas, led an engaging discussion with independent theatre owners from across the region. The conversation covered the current state of the industry and the work of the Independent Theatre Owners Coalition in developing resources for independents and advocating for this important part of the exhibition community in Hollywood.

Brett King from CINETRAIN moderated a dynamic discussion with Jeff Logan of Logan Luxury Theatres Corp and David Meillier of Flix Brewhouse. The panel explored effective strategies for maximizing employee training opportunities and enhancing organizational value. Attendees also enjoyed an insightful seminar and panel discussion on “AI & Your Theatre” and a robust discussion during the Independent Owners Round Table.

The trade show featured more than 50 vendors, showcasing the latest innovations and services for the cinema industry. This bustling marketplace was a hub of activity, offering exhibitors the chance to explore new products and forge valuable business relationships.

And thank you to our studio partners for their support of regional conventions. Attendees were excited to see Sony’s presentation of their upcoming films and screenings from Focus Features, Paramount Pictures, and Angel Studios.

The North Central States NATO convention underscored the importance of joining NATO and regional associations. By working together, exhibitors can thrive through collaboration and enhance their advocacy to advance the interests of movie theatres in states and communities across the country.

Upcoming Regional Shows:

Join us in continuing to strengthen our cinema community and advocating for the future of our industry by attending the following regional events later this year and the Fall Summit and Annual Meetings in September. For more information and dates, visit NATO Events.

  • ShowSouth in Lake Lanier Islands, Buford, GA
  • CineShow in Frisco, TX
  • Rocky Mountain Theatre Convention in Salt Lake City, UT