NATO Celebrates CineEurope 2024

NATO is excited to celebrate the kickoff of CineEurope as the summer box office begins to build momentum,” said Michael O’Leary, NATO’s President & CEO.

Led by the visionary team at UNIC, CineEurope continues to be an essential event that brings together exhibition, distribution, and the creative community to build the future of the cinematic experience. CineEurope is a yearly opportunity to celebrate the importance of the international box office to the overall strength of our global industry. Movies from around the world continue to cross borders and succeed at the box office, which creates the significant cultural and economic impact our industry has.

We at NATO look forward to continuing our vital collaboration with UNIC and our partners across Europe on behalf of the dedicated people who operate cinemas around the world.

Read CineEurope’s Press Release below:


CineEurope 2024, Barcelona: 17 June 2024 – Phil Clapp and Laura Houlgatte, President and CEO respectively of the European cinema trade grouping UNIC, welcomed delegates at the opening ceremony of this year’s CineEurope.

Welcoming delegates at the opening ceremony to this year’s event – also UNIC’s annual convention – both highlighted the strong performance of the European cinema sector in 2023.

European cinema admissions grew by approximately 21.6 per cent, reaching 986 million visits across the region and the box office also experienced substantial growth, increasing by 23.7 per cent to an estimated €7.2 billion.

Laura Houlgatte highlighted the local titles that played a vital role in the success of the European cinema sector in 2023. Italian titles grossed €121 million in 2023, twice as much as in 2022 and in Romania four domestic releases made it to the top 10 for the first time. Worthy of particular mention were Astérix & Obélix: L’Empire du MilieuC’è ancora domani and 2.

Phil Clapp highlighted the contributions made by US studios, underscoring the global reach and impact of their films. Barbie and Oppenheimer were celebrated as an unprecedented double bill which drove audiences in millions to European cinemas. This led to an exceptional summer for the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Poland, the UK, Spain and Italy amongst other countries. Also of note was that The Super Mario Bros. Movie crossed the billion-dollar mark globally. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, Fast X, Guardians of the Galaxy and Wonka, to name but a few, also helped make 2023 a success. When it came to event cinema, Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour set a new record for the highest global opening weekend for a concert film, earning $128 million. 

Laura Houlgatte discussed the impact of the 2023 strikes on the release schedule, particularly affecting the final months of 2023 and the first half of 2024. On a more positive note, Gower Street Analytics, the leading global box office forecaster, has predicted global box office revenues of $32.3 billion, an increase from their initial projection of $31.5 billion at the beginning of the year. She also welcomed the great weekend results of Pixar’s Inside Out 2 which shattered all expectations, delivering $295 million globally. 

Phil Clapp also emphasised the continuing commitment of cinemas to invest and innovate. He highlighted the crucial need for a diverse range of high-quality content, from international blockbusters to arthouse titles, event cinema productions, family comedies, child-friendly animations, and genre films like horror and science fiction. Local, European, and international films are all essential to this successful mix.

Phil Clapp also stressed the importance of ensuring that titles were well-marketed, with everyone in the industry playing a role. He re-affirmed that cinemas remain the best way for audiences to experience films, provide the industry with a robust theatrical window to maximise revenues and minimise film theft, and offer the creative community an unparalleled opportunity to showcase their work on the big screen to enthusiastic film fans.

Phil Clapp also updated the audience on the Women’s Cinema Leadership Mentoring Programme, now in its seventh year with 14 new mentees and mentors. The speakers wished the participants well and thanked IMAX, Barco, and Vista Group for supporting UNIC’s vision of a diverse and inclusive cinema industry.

Today’s speech also celebrated the “Giants of Exhibition”, the top 50 European cinema operators by screen count, published by UNIC and Boxoffice Pro. In addition, Phil Clapp and Laura Houlgatte thanked Gruvi, the new strategic advisor of the UNIC People Programme, which is aimed at helping exhibitors recruit and retain talents.

In closing the joint speech, Laura Houlgatte emphasised that the principal mission of UNIC is representing the views of cinema exhibition with European lawmakers in Brussels. She highlighted the recent election of a new European Parliament and the imminent appointment of a new European Commission. She expressed eagerness to engage with European policy-makers and convey the needs and priorities of the cinema industry to ensure its continued growth and success.

The International Union of Cinemas (UNIC)

The International Union of Cinemas/Union Internationale des Cinémas (UNIC) represents the interests of cinema trade associations and cinema operators covering 39 countries in Europe and neighbouring regions.


CineEurope 2024 is taking place 17-20 June at the Centre Convencions Internacional Barcelona (CCIB) in Barcelona, Spain. CineEurope is the longest running and most successful European convention and trade show for major, regional, and independent cinema professionals. CineEurope will feature exclusive screenings and product presentations of upcoming films, sponsored events, timely and informative seminars, and the CineEurope Trade Show. CineEurope is the Official Convention of the International Union of Cinemas/Union Internationale des Cinémas (UNIC).

The Film Expo Group

The Film Expo Group is the premier organiser of events in the motion picture industry. The Film Expo Group produces CineEurope, held in Barcelona; ShowEast, held in Miami; and CineAsia, held in Bangkok.

Variety: Theater Owners Chief on Box Office Downturn, Alamo Drafthouse Sale and Bringing Audiences Back to the Movies: ‘We’re Still Looking for a Catalyst’

Michael O’Leary, the president of the National Association of Theater Owners, knows that the cinema operators he represents through his trade group have been through a lot. But he also believes that things are turning around, noting the recent success of “Bad Boys: Ride or Die” and a number of potential hits, such as “Inside Out 2,” “Despicable Me 4” and “Deadpool & Wolverine” that are scheduled to open in the coming days and weeks. If the box office can build momentum, O’Leary thinks the perception will change and the financial sector will give his organization’s members the support they need to improve their venues and grow their businesses.

[Variety:] What do you think the biggest challenge facing the movie business is right now?

[Michael O’Leary:] That depends on who you talk to. At [the exhibition industry conference] CinemaCon, I frequently heard that there’s not enough capital in the system. Our business is consumer facing and in a post-pandemic world, we need to provide our customers with the amazing experience that they deserve. A lot of our members have done an amazing job of developing their properties and adding things to everything they already were offering, but we want to do even more. We have exciting ideas about how to improve the experience, but the money has not been there. And this is all happening during an economic downturn with inflation, so the costs of running these theaters has not gotten any cheaper. There’s just less discretionary income for these improvements. So our message to bankers and investors has been that the future is bright for this sector, but you need to get behind us.


NATO of Michigan Hosts Annual Legislator Reception

On June 11, 2024, NATO of Michigan hosted its annual Legislator Reception in Lansing. Over twenty legislators and staff from the House of Representatives and Senate met with theatre owners from across the state to discuss the pressing issues facing the exhibition industry, at home and across the country. The event also featured a presentation from the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office.

Exhibitors can find more information about the regional unit and register for future Legislator Receptions on the new NATO of Michigan website.

Lights, Camera, Influence: Boost Your Theatre’s Impact with Social Media and Influencers

The Independent Theatre Owners Coalition (ITOC) recently hosted an informative webinar focused on helping movie theaters boost their marketing efforts using influencers and social media. Attendees got to hear from top industry influencers and cinema marketing executives who shared valuable strategies to increase visibility and attract more patrons.

Last month’s ITOC Connect webinar featured a conversation between Harry Medved of NATO and The Cinema Foundation and special guest Gabriella Gomez, founder of the Department of Influence. Gabriella shared insights into her journey as a leading influencer and gave tips for exhibitors to engage with influencers on platforms like TikTok. She emphasized how movie theaters can either become influencers themselves or work effectively with outside influencers to drive engagement and ticket sales.

Presentations followed from Haleigh Oetting, Director of Social Media for B&B Theatres, and Andrew Brooks, Chief Marketing Officer for Santikos Entertainment. Haleigh discussed the success of B&B Theatres’ Brand Ambassador Program and the significant impact of influencer marketing on their campaigns. Andrew shared tips on creating engaging content and showcased successful campaigns that Santikos executed to add fun and excitement for their moviegoing audiences.

If you missed the live session, the recording is now available.

NATO of CA/NV Hosts Spring Managers Meeting

Earlier this month, members of NATO and The Cinema Foundation staff joined NATO of California/Nevada at their spring Managers Meeting in Los Angeles. Bryan Braunlich of The Cinema Foundation, Erin Von Hoetzendorff, and Amanda Martin of NATO attended the meeting.

The NATO of CA/NV hosts managers meetings in the Fall and Spring as a way to bring local theater managers together to see the great movies coming out and to hear presentations from industry partners. There also was a fun round of movie trivia, although we do regret none of our NATO representatives won.

Managers also have an opportunity to do a meet and greet with representatives from the studios, NATO, the Will Rogers Foundation, and many more partners.

A special thank you to Todd Vradenburg and Maura Ortega of NATO of CA/NV for always including NATO in these great events and for continuing to support exhibition.

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

NATO Attends Ohio Goes to the Movies Kickoff with Governor Mike DeWine

On May 1, 2024, Governor Mike DeWine launched the Ohio Goes to the Movies (OGTTM) program at the historic Lincoln Theatre in Columbus, Ohio. The Lincoln Theatre has been in operation since 1928.

The event featured a screening of the award-winning theatrical documentary Apollo 11 directed by Buckeye State native Todd Douglas Miller. Alex Rich, NATO’s Associate Director of State Government Affairs, and Jordan Hohman, Executive Director of Heartland NATO, attended the event demonstrating the exhibition industry’s support for this historic initiative. 

Ohio Goes to the Movies is a statewide program highlighting Ohio’s contribution to the motion picture industry including homegrown stars, behind-the-scenes talent, and the movie theatres that bring these stories to audiences across the state. The program runs for 100 days beginning in mid-February through May 2026 as part of the state’s America 250 celebration.

Governor DeWine and First Lady Fran DeWine shared that their first date was to see 1962’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? in a movie theatre and they have remained avid moviegoers since.

Exhibitors who would like to participate in OGTTM should contact Program Director Molly Kreuzman ( for more information.

NATO is looking to enact similar state-based programs inspired by Ohio Goes to the Movies across the country. More details to follow.

National Association of Theatre Owners Celebrates Dedicated Community Leaders with “Behind the Screens” Series, Legacy Program

CINEMACON/LAS VEGAS – April 9, 2024 – The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) launched its first-ever digital video series, Behind the Screens: The Faces of Exhibition, today at CinemaCon, the world’s largest exhibition convention held at Caesars Palace attracting nearly 6,000 attendees. The series tells the stories of dedicated movie theatre leaders across the country, representing major chains with thousands of screens to independents with only one screen.  

“We are excited to premiere Behind the Screens at CinemaCon to showcase the talented and passionate people that make exhibition special.” said Michael O’Leary, NATO’s President & CEO. 

“The theatrical experience would not be what it is without their dedication and creativity. We look forward to sharing more member stories in the years ahead.”

The enterprising exhibition leaders featured in the videos are: 

Mayte Alquicira, Loyalty Manager, Cinépolis USA, based in Dallas: devoted to creating great experiences for a wide variety of moviegoers with unique loyalty offerings. 

David Haywood, SVP Food & Beverage, Cinemark, headquartered in Plano, Texas: pairing concessions with film to create new moviegoing memories.  

J.D. Loeks, CEO, Studio C/Celebration Cinema, Grand Rapids, Michigan: building a multipex and piazza as the anchor of a revitalized downtown entertainment hub. 

Lauren McChesney & Matt McClanahan, Co-owners, Shankweiler’s Drive-In, Lehigh, PA: pioneering couple reviving America’s oldest continually operating community drive-in theater. 

Francisco Schlotterbeck, CEO, Maya Cinemas: a California/Nevada chain bringing a premium movie experience to family-oriented underserved communities.  

Emelyn Stuart, Stuart Cinema and Café, Brooklyn: founder of an innovative neighborhood cornerstone serving under-represented communities and the first Black Latina to own a movie theatre in New York City.  

NATO is also launching a special program celebrating the longevity of its membership at CinemaCon this year. Through its Legacy Program, NATO is honoring movie theatre companies that have been in business for 50, 75, and 100 years. The numbers are impressive: 69 companies have been in business for 50 years, 89 companies for 75 years, and 56 companies for over a century.  

“The future of the exhibition industry is bright,” added O’Leary. “A huge reason why: it’s the people in this industry who never stop innovating and creating the experiences that movie fans around the world love. We are excited to share the stories of just a few of these amazing individuals at CinemaCon this year.”

The video series can be found here at


The National Association of Theatre Owners is the largest exhibition trade organization in the world, representing more than 32,000 movie screens in all 50 states, and more than 34,000 additional screens in 89 countries worldwide. For more info, visit