NATO Monthly Report, April 2024

Letter from the CEO

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION…

I cannot start this note without thanking everyone that joined us in Vegas for CinemaCon 2024 and helped make it a special week. I enjoyed talking with so many exhibitors, vendors and distributors about the key issues facing our industry.  Since I have returned to the east coast, I have spent three successive Saturday mornings enjoying a series of Cary Grant movies (Charade, The Philadelphia Story and The Awful Truth) at my local Alamo Cinema and Drafthouse. The age range of the audiences was notable – starting with fans in their twenties all the way to people my age and older. At the end of the movie, people stayed and talked about what they saw – always with a smile on their faces. It was a terrific example of “community” that was one of our themes at CinemaCon. But it also got me thinking about a question that arose in Vegas and in the press that followed – are there too many movie screens in America? This is a question that will continue to be asked until our industry is fully recovered.  In today’s instant gratification world, many believe this as a simple “yes or no” question.  And for others it’s a simple question of addition or subtraction. We know better.  

In the past four years our industry has weathered, the loss of FOX, the ongoing global economic down-turn, two lengthy labor stoppages, and the global pandemic.  As a result, the entire cinematic industry, not just exhibition, is still in recovery. The number of films available is direct evidence of this fact. There will be a stabilization point, but we are not there yet, making this inquiry premature at best. 

Driving this conversation is the perception that the US market is saturated from a screen perspective. The truth is that when you look at the issue market by market, there are growth areas with very positive economic indicators. We are seeing people buying closed theatres, upgrading them, and successfully re-opening them. There are places across the country, including many in mid-America that have a very positive cash flow. You are also seeing some of the greatest innovation in these areas – family entertainment centers, for example – that provide consumers of all ages the experiences they want.  Despite the continuing high cost of money slowing the pace and scale of these upgrades, they will accelerate as the industry and economy return to full strength. 

Finally, as we know, there are theatres of all sizes spread across this country. They serve communities big and small, and they are all important pieces of the American cinematic experience. In many cases, a theatre in a small, rural community may provide the people in that town and surrounding towns, their only opportunity to have a shared moviegoing experience. Perhaps they won’t make as much each year as a theatre in a large city, but they add value in incalculable ways. It is incredibly important that we retain these types of theatres. That feeling of community I felt at a Cary Grant movie is one you feel everyday all across this nation. The theatre is a place for everyone. This isn’t just an accounting exercise, it’s a culture imperative.

So, to anyone searching for a yes or no answer, I’m sorry. Ultimately, the marketplace will set the number of screens as it always has. But let others speculate or rush to judgment. We should keep doing what we have always done – give fans that love movies on the big screen the best theatrical experience possible, every day, across this great nation.  

Michael O’Leary


CinemaCon 2024 Highlights

Thank you to everyone who came out to CinemaCon! It was a great week and we cannot wait for all the great titles coming out this year! Mark your calendars for CinemaCon 2025 March 31 – April 3.


Member Updates

Congratulations to Shankweiler’s Drive In on their 90th Anniversary! Check out Lauren and Matt’s story here as part of NATO’s Behind the Screens series! 

Congratulations to Milwaukee Film for officially taking over a reopening the historic Downer Theatre in Milwaukee, WI! 


NATO ACROSS THE COUNTRY

NATO of CA/NV hosted a screening with legislators and staff in Sacramento, CA. Thank you to NATO of CA/NV for inviting us, to Cinemark for hosting the event at their beautiful theater in Sacramento, and to Universal for letting us screen The Fall Guy. 

NATO UPDATES & EVENTS

Retaining and Cultivating A Customer Base

With the big summer season starting capitalize on those big movie titles movie goers are excited to see. Join NATO for a webinar  on leveraging those titles to cultivate a loyal customer base on Thursday, May 9 at 11:00 am PST/2:00 pm EST. This session will provide valuable insights from theatre owners of different sizes on how to keep people coming back to the movies on a regular basis. Sign up for the webinar here

Become a NATO Ambassador TODAY
If you are someone who is dedicated to NATO and the work we do together through our association, you should consider signing up to become a NATO Ambassador! All NATO Ambassadors will receive access to training materials and guidelines. NATO Ambassadors will work closely with the Director of Membership on all program initiatives. NATO Ambassadors can expect to contribute about three hours of work per month by working on various aspects of the following program goals:

  • Recruitment of new members 
  • Retention of current members 
  • Improved onboarding of new members 
  • Increased diversity of membership and volunteer pool 

Sign up to be a NATO Ambassador here!

Mental Health Tips for Theatre Operators


In case you missed it, a link to our April webinar with the Will Rogers Foundation can be found here. Looking after ourselves and our employees is better for our theaters in the long run, this webinar has helpful tips to help not only our own mental health but our employees too. May is world mental health month, feel free to share with your teams and beyond!  


State of the Industry – May
Our quarterly SOTI will be held on Thursday, May 16 at 11:00 am PST/ 2:00 pm EST. Sign up here to attend that SOTI


NATO IN THE NEWS

IndieWire: How to Get Young Audiences in Theaters? Show Old Movies
Speaking to press at CinemaCon, National Association of Theater Owners president Michael O’Leary said communication between theaters and distributors is trending in the right direction. Exhibitors are urging distributors to use a theater’s marketing arm to better tap into local audiences — a group that exhibitors would know better than distributors. They’re starting to listen.

“Having that type of conversation happen is a huge step forward,” O’Leary said. “They seem insignificant in the abstract, but if you do that enough times, it becomes a habit, and you start to see some lift in the market.”

READ FULL ARTICLE

Screen Daily: CinemaCon: NATO’s Michael O’Leary urges investment in theatres, MPA’s Charles Rivkin fiery on piracy

O’Leary urged investors to support exhibition and touched on what is already shaping up to be a signature theme of his tenure – support for the independent sector and lower budget cinema.

“Getting more capital into the system will benefit everyone – creatives, studios, exhibition, local communities and, most importantly, movie fans,” O’Leary told attendees at The Colosseum.

“Movies on the big screen benefit everyone. More compelling movies bring more movie fans to the theatre, which in turn increases the desire of consumers to return and see what is coming next. Everyone wins.”

The NATO president and CEO continued: “We should always support partners and marketplace decisions that increase movie production and put more movies with a clear, exclusive theatrical run and marketing support into your cinemas.

“We know that a movie that begins its journey with theatrical exclusivity is more successful in every subsequent ancillary platform.”

READ FULL ARTICLE


GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS

DOL Increases Compensation Threshold for Exempt Employees
On April 23, 2024, the U.S. Department of Labor published its final rule that revises the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to significantly increase the minimum salary levels to qualify for executive, administrative, and professional (EAP) and highly compensated employee (HCE) exemptions from overtime requirements. Click here for a memo that summarizes key changes adopted in the Final Rule.
 
DOJ Final Rule on Website Accessibility for State and Local Governments
The U.S. Department of Justice has issued a final rule on website accessibility for state and local governments under the ADA’s Title II, hinting at future regulations for the private sector under Title III and the Rehabilitation Act. Although currently applicable only to state and local governments, this rule is expected to influence private sector website standards, as it establishes the first comprehensive regulatory framework for web accessibility. Given the DOJ’s authority over both public and private entities under various laws, this rule likely foreshadows stricter accessibility requirements for businesses that are public accommodations or receive federal funding. Read DOJ’s fact sheet and press release.
 
FTC Announces Rule Banning Noncompetes
After the Federal Trade Commission announced a final rule prohibiting noncompete agreements last week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups filed a lawsuit against the agency in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The lawsuit alleges that the FTC Act only allows the agency to bring cases challenging particular practices and that the agency does not have the authority to issue rules that define unfair methods of competition. Under the new rule, existing noncompetes for the vast majority of workers will no longer be enforceable after the rule’s effective date, which is 120 days from the day it is published in the Federal Register. Click here for the FTC press release.


The Cinema Foundation

2024 Pledges

Fulfill your 2024 pledge today – click here to donate. Your continued support enables us to strengthen the cinema industry & engage moviegoing audiences.

Stay tuned for exciting updates on this year’s industry promotional initiatives and data and research reports.


New Member Spotlight

Kennett Palace Theater, Kennett, MO
RGR Theatres, Window Rock, AZ
Cinema Filmtheater, Munich, Germany
Spring Theatre, Springhill, LA


Box Office

January 1-April 30, 2023: $2,659,967,608
January 1-April 30, 2024: $2,085,542,103
-21.6% year/year


Please refrain from sharing these links with non-members, vendors, distributors, the media, and outside consultants (financial or otherwise), or posting them on any public website, social media account, or message board. NATO provides these webinars, meetings, and services exclusively for NATO member company personnel.

Watch the Recording: Retaining and Cultivating A Customer Base, 5/9/2024

On Thursday, May 9, at 11:00am PST/2:00pm EST NATO hosted a webinar on retaining and cultivating a customer base. 

This session provided valuable insights from theatre owners of different sizes on how to keep people coming back to the movies on a regular basis.

During this webinar, we discussed the following questions:

How can you maximize the impact of breakout hits to keep people coming back for other titles?

How can you fully leverage your loyalty program?

How can library programming and new releases compliment each other in order to boost attendance for both?

How can other amenities/activities at a movie theatre be used to boost attendance?

Watch the Recording – Members-only Webinar: Mental Health Tips for Movie Theatre Employees

On Thursday, April 18, at 11:00am PST/2:00pm EST NATO and the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation hosted a webinar focused on mental health strategies for theater employees.

Acknowledging the challenges inherent in interfacing with the public, the team at Will Rogers shared invaluable insights and best practices designed to foster emotional resilience and well-being.

This comprehensive session provided practical guidance for both employers seeking to cultivate supportive environments and employees navigating the demands of public interaction. Will Roger underscored the critical importance of prioritizing mental health.

NATO Monthly Report, March 2024

Letter from the CEO

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION…

I am thrilled to report that I am not writing this from an airport or a plane!

Although by the time you read this, I will be on my way to Los Angeles for an important week of meetings with the Global Cinema Federation (GCF). Chaired by Alejandro Ramirez of Cinépolis, the GCF is a collective of global cinema leaders dedicated to educating and advising policymakers, the media, and the public on the importance of global cinema. Ours is an international industry and the meetings next week with the studios and the guilds are a meaningful opportunity for NATO to support international exhibition. I also want to note that the following week, at CinemaCon, we will be holding a press conference for the international media to further promote the leadership and importance of the international exhibition community.  I am looking forward to it!

On the domestic front, I had the privilege of joining my NATO colleagues Erin Von Hoetzendorff and Todd Halstead in Dallas recently for the dual celebration of B&B Theatres 100th anniversary and the opening of their amazing new family entertainment center, the Red Oak 12.  The Bagby family pulled out all the stops at Red Oak and created a place where families and people of all ages can go and have fun. Multiple screens with something for everyone – including an auditorium with a playground where kids can play before settling in to watch a movie, as well as a theatre modelled after their first theatre, the Lyric, which opened in 1924. Beyond the movies, Red Oak boasts a restaurant, bars, an arcade, a bowling alley, an outdoor live entertainment area complete with pickleball courts!  It is no wonder the event was full of well-wishers from exhibition, the studios, and the vendor community. As a part of the 100th anniversary celebration, the Bagby kids, Bobbi, Brittany, and Brook were all promoted to Presidents at B&B. The family business is in good hands, and we look forward to their next 100 years! Congratulations.

Of course, no matter where the NATO team is these days, CinemaCon is always at the forefront of our thoughts.  Mitch, Matt and Matt have built another amazing program, and it promises to be a terrific week. The NATO and Cinema Foundation teams are working collaboratively to ensure that all NATO members enjoy their time in Vegas. We have a lot of initiatives we are excited to share with all of you, and of course, we are all looking forward to the studio presentations.  We have much to celebrate and important planning to do for the year ahead.  There is nothing like CinemaCon and I can’t wait to see you all there.

-Michael O’Leary


NATO Across the Country

B&B 100th Anniversary

Michael O’Leary, Bob Bagby, Erin Von Hoetzendorff, and Todd Halstead at the B&B Theatres 100th Anniversary

Member Updates

Congratulations to our members who have opened new locations in March!

Congratulations to NCG Cinema for opening a new location in Tampa Bay, FL
Congratulations to RC Theatres for opening their new location in Quakertown, PA

NATO UPDATES & EVENTS

Mental Health Tips for Theater Employees

Join NATO and the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation for a webinar focused on mental health strategies for theater employees on Thursday, April 18 at 11:00 am PST/2:00 pm EST. Acknowledging the challenges inherent in interfacing with the public, the team at Will Rogers will share invaluable insights and best practices designed to foster emotional resilience and well-being. This comprehensive session will provide practical guidance for both employers seeking to cultivate supportive environments and employees navigating the demands of public interaction. Join Will Rogers as they underscore the critical importance of prioritizing mental health. Sign up for the webinar here.

Become a NATO Ambassador TODAY
If you are someone who is dedicated to NATO and the work we do together through our association, you should consider signing up to become a NATO Ambassador! All NATO Ambassadors will receive access to training materials and guidelines. NATO Ambassadors will work closely with the Director of Membership on all program initiatives. NATO Ambassadors can expect to contribute about three hours of work per month by working on various aspects of the following program goals:

  • Recruitment of new members 
  • Retention of current members 
  • Improved onboarding of new members 
  • Increased diversity of membership and volunteer pool 

Sign up to be a NATO Ambassador here!


GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS

Congressional Action Still Needed After Visa and Mastercard Settlement
A proposed agreement announced this week for Visa and Mastercard to temporarily reduce “swipe” fees charged to merchants does not end the need for congressional action to increase competition in the credit card market. Under the proposed settlement, Visa and Mastercard would lower swipe fees by at least four basis points for a period of three years and reduce their overall average rates by seven basis points for a period of five years. After five years, all fees could be raised to more than make up for any temporary reductions.

NATO Opposes Attempt to Delay Changes to Debit Card Swipe Fees
This month, NATO joined other industries in urging federal lawmakers to reject legislation that would delay the Federal Reserve’s proposal to reduce the regulated rate for debit card swipe fees. Under the proposed rule, the Fed would lower the amount banks can charge for debit card transactions from 21 cents to 14.4 cents per transaction.

OSHA Walk Around Rule Out
Last week, OSHA issued its final rule on the worker walkaround representative designation process. The rule allows third parties, including unions, to accompany OSHA inspectors on facility inspections, even in non-unionized workplaces. While the final rule is largely the same as the proposal, there are small changes that actually broadens who can qualify as an authorized representative. NATO is a member of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, which issued a statement and is planning to file an amicus brief in the eventual legal challenge to the rule.

Joint Employer Final Rule Invalidated by District Court
On March 8, the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas invalidated the NLRB’s joint employer final rule. The judge in the case said the rule was too broad and violated the NLRA. The traditional joint employer standard—requiring direct and immediate control over workers’ terms and conditions of employment—is now in effect. The NLRB will likely appeal the ruling to the US Circuit Court for the 5th Circuit.


CinemaCon 2024 COUNTDOWN

Schedule of NATO Events
With CinemaCon just around the corner, we want to be sure you are aware of the various committee meetings taking place at CinemaCon. Please refer to the schedule of committee meetings. While some of these meetings are limited to committee members only, others are open to all or most NATO members. A few meetings are highlighted below. If you haven’t already RSVP’d for those events, but do plan to attend, please RSVP as soon as possible! The NATO team can’t wait to see you in Vegas!


The Cinema Foundation

The Foundation will be well represented at CinemaCon. Don’t forget to check out the following events:

Fundamentals of Presentation Technology
The Cinema Foundation and ICTA jointly present this seminar outlining cinema presentation technology in theaters for executives, operations and non-technical positions. Offered at two different times to accommodate scheduling preferences.
Monday, April 8
10:00 am – 11:45 am OR 1:00 pm – 2:45 pm
Neopolitan Ballroom III
Pre-register here

Data: The Knowledge of Today’s Consumer is the Currency of Tomorrow
The Cinema Foundation, in partnership with USC Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future, will present a practical approach to understanding the value of consumer data, presented by Marina Kosten, Senior Fellow, USC Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future
Tuesday, April 9
7:45 – 8:30 am
Palace Ballroom III

The ICTA /ISDCF/EDCF/CF/CIT TechTalk
Tuesday, April 9
6:45 pm – 8:00 pm, followed by a reception
Emperors Ballroom
RSVP HERE to join a discussion with the cinema technology community from around the world.

We Want To Meet at CinemaCon!
We’d love to catch up and hear from you! Please sign up for a time when you can tell us how we can assist you throughout the year or just say hello. We appreciate your support!

Click this link to sign-up for a 15-minute meeting. We look forward to seeing you in person!


New Member Spotlight

We are very excited to welcome our newest members of NATO!

Cine Mäntsälä / StoryHill Oy, Finland

The Starlite Drive-In, Terre Haute, IN

Kino Rex / Kino Thun AG, Switzerland

Nickelodeon Cinemas, Australia

Cult Cinemas, Brazil

Filmtheaterbetriebe Manfred Ewert KG, Germany

GoggleWorks Center for the Arts (The Boscov Theater), Reading, PA

Gokulam Pavilion, India

Ak-Chin Circle Entertainment Center, Maricopa, AZ

Movietown Entertainment GmbH &Co KG, Germany


Box Office

January 1-March 31, 2023: $1,754,628,317
January 1-March 31, 2024: $1,645,689,904
-6.2% year/year

Members-only Webinar: Cybersecurity

Fortifying the Big Screen: Cybersecurity Strategies for Movie Theater Operators

If you weren’t able to join us live for this webinar, you can watch the recording here in our archive.

Businesses are increasingly becoming targets for sophisticated cyber attacks. This webinar is designed to shed light on the evolving landscape of cybersecurity threats from box office transactions to customer data protection. Participants will gain invaluable insights into the specific vulnerabilities that theatres face and learn strategies to enhance their cybersecurity measures.

This event features Ashley Jones, Cybersecurity Advisor (CSA) for Washington D.C. – Region III, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security. With her extensive expertise, she will guide exhibitors through the unique set of cybersecurity challenges the industry faces.

NATO Monthly Report, February 2024

Letter from the CEO

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION…

Once again, I find myself writing to you from an airport. This time it is LAX in beautiful Los Angeles, where I am wrapping up a good week of meetings with the studios, media, and other industry partners.  It’s always good to visit LA, but I am looking forward to a few days at home.  February was a very busy time for NATO, and with CinemaCon looming on the horizon, the pace will only accelerate. If you have not registered for CinemaCon, please do so. You won’t want to miss what Mitch and the Matts have in store for us.

February saw the launch of an exciting new program under the leadership of NATO Membership Director Erin Von Hoetzendorff, called the NATO Ambassador Program. This program will develop a core of dedicated volunteers, “Ambassadors,” that will provide support for existing and new NATO members and will identify and work with potential NATO members as well.  These individuals, drawn from across the NATO membership, will be an invaluable resource in promoting the services and opportunities that NATO provides to its members. They will be available to answer questions and share experiences they have had with you to ensure that you are getting the most out of your NATO membership. We are excited to see all the great work Erin and the NATO Ambassadors will do.

Also this month, NATO partnered with the good folks at NATO of California/Nevada for a lobbying day in Sacramento. Amanda Martin and Todd Vradenburg of NATO CA/NV led this effort which included NATO’s Todd Halstead, Art Murtha and Jeremy Leach of Cinemark, and Damon Rubio of D’Place Entertainment. During Sacramento Day, the team met with the staff of Governor Newsom, the California Chamber of Commerce, and key legislators and staff form the legislature’s Arts, Entertainment, Sports, and Tourism Committee. The meetings focused on educating members about the positive economic and cultural impact of exhibition in the Golden State. Following a day of meetings in the Capital, members of the Assembly and staff took part in a reception at the state-of-the-art Century Cinemark and XD theater located in downtown Sacramento. Attendees were able to view a slate of upcoming Warner Bros films and enjoyed a special in-person presentation by the Ticket to Ride podcast duo, Paul Dergarabedian and Mike Polydoros. These types of events are important as we work to strengthen our advocacy operation. We are already planning more outreach in California as well as similar “Capital Days” in other key states around the country. Thank you to everyone that contributed to making this day a success.

This week saw a delegation of leaders from NATO’s Independent Theatre Owners Coalition (ITOC) come to Los Angeles to meet with the heads of distribution from seven major studios. These were constructive and substantive conversations that focused on key issues like film availability, scheduling optimization, and marketing among others. Representing ITOC was Chairperson Colleen Barstow, as well as Chris Johnson, Joe Masher and John Vincent. These meetings will be the first of what NATO expects to be an ongoing dialogue between our partners in distribution and NATO independents. As noted, the conversations were positive, and I believe we can build on them in future discussions. At this point, we have identified the areas of greatest concern to independents and are working collaboratively to fashion workable solutions that benefit everyone involved. A special thank you to the ITOC delegation for a tremendous job in representing independents of all sizes in these meetings.

I am happy to report that once I get home, I will be going to see Dune II tomorrow. I am very excited to see this film and more excited that this will signal the return of more and more movies to your theatres as the year goes on.  We have had some surprising successes thus far in 2024 — most recently, One Love — but movie-goers the world over are anxious for a steady stream of compelling options to return.  I cannot wait to see Dune II, and I hope that millions of movie fans flood your theatres to see it as well.

 – Michael


NATO Across the Country

Group of people in front of building

Art Murtha, Damon Rubio, Jeremy Leach, Todd Halstead, Amanda Martin, and Todd Vradenberg in Sacramento

People attending a concert

Thank you to The Wilmette Theatre for hosting NATO at an amazing community event in support of local bands and The Woolgathering Project. Since 2013, this fantastic charity has collected and distributed over 50,000 pairs of socks to those in need. This month’s event collected nearly 1,400 more for this great cause. A big shout-out to Karen Barr and Amy Falkowski, the dynamic duo who operate the Wilmette Theatre, which is located in a charming village outside of Chicago. Through their hard work and dedication, this nonprofit cinema, founded in 1913, significantly enriches the cultural life of the community with films and live shows.

People standing around a table in a restaurant

Joe Masher, John Vincent, Chris Johnson, Chris Aronson, Melanie Valera, Michael O’Leary, and Colleen Barstow at dinner during the ITOC studio visits. 

NATO UPDATES & EVENTS


Become a NATO Ambassador TODAY
If you are someone who is dedicated to NATO and the work we do together through our association, you should consider signing up to become a NATO Ambassador! All NATO Ambassadors will receive access to training materials and guidelines. NATO Ambassadors will work closely with the Director of Membership on all program initiatives. NATO Ambassadors can expect to contribute about three hours of work per month by working on various aspects of the following program goals:

  • Recruitment of new members 
  • Retention of current members 
  • Improved onboarding of new members 
  • Increased diversity of membership and volunteer pool 

Sign up to be a NATO Ambassador here!

Fortifying the Big Screen: Cybersecurity Strategies for Movie Theater Operators
Join NATO on Thursday, March 14 at 11:00 am PST/2:00 pm EST for our monthly webinar on Cybersecurity. The movie theatre industry faces a unique set of cybersecurity challenges, with threats growing more sophisticated by the day. This webinar, designed specifically for movie theater operators, aims to shed light on the evolving landscape of cybersecurity threats that target the entertainment sector. Participants will gain insights into the specific vulnerabilities that theaters face, from box office transactions to digital film distribution and customer data protection. Sign up for the webinar here.

Calling all NATO Young Members (40 years old or younger)
There’s a virtual Young Members Community conversation about career development coming up on Thursday, March 7 at 11 am Pacific/2 pm Eastern. Join Young Members Community Chair and Vice Chair, Brock Bagby and Matt Hoopfer, as they talk to Frank Martinez, Head of Sales, Theatrical Distribution at A24 Films, about his journey from movie theater employee to studio exec. This will be meeting, not a webinar! Come prepared with your own questions for Frank and get ready for an engaging discussion.
Click here to register!

Q1 SOTI
In case you missed it, find a link to our first SOTI of the year here.

Company Logos Collection
NATO needs your help! We want to feature NATO member logos at CinemaCon, which means we’ll need a HIGH RESOLUTION .EPS or .AI file of the logo from you. We are asking all of our members to provide your company logo via dropbox, using this link. 
Before uploading, please ensure your file is named with the following format: company name_HQ city_HQ state abbreviation. For example, if I uploaded a logo for NATO, which is headquartered in Washington, DC, I would name the file NATO_Washington_DC.
If you have questions or concerns about this, please contact Erin Von Hoetzendorff at evh@natoca.com.


GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS

NATO Advocates for FTC to Exclude Movie Theatres From “Junk Fees” Rule
NATO submitted comments urging the FTC to exempt the movie theatre industry from its proposed rule on deceptive fees, highlighting that the industry’s transparent and optional convenience fees differ significantly from the “junk fees” targeted by the rule. NATO emphasizes the potential negative consequences for both the industry and consumers if included. This plea comes amidst growing bipartisan concern over hidden fees across various sectors, with proposed measures seeking to mandate all-inclusive pricing.


CinemaCon 2024 COUNTDOWN

Independent Cinema’s Spotlight Shines at Caesars Palace 

The Independent Theatre Owners Coalition (ITOC) annual meeting returns to CinemaCon in Caesars Palace on Monday, April 8, from 11:30am to 2:45pm PDT. Join us for this important gathering where operators of small business cinemas, non-profits, and art houses engage in meaningful discussions, network, share experiences, and contribute to the future of the independent movie theatre industry. We respectfully request that companies attending the ITOC meeting restrict their representatives to individuals who are actively engaged in management and operations. 

Special Note for 2024: For the first time ever, independent cinema owners and operators with more than 75 screens are invited to register for the ITOC meeting. This expansion aims to encompass a wider range of voices within the independent cinema community, enhancing our discussions and collaborative efforts.


NATO in the News

CNBC
‘Dune: Part Two’ looks to end box office drought with $80 million opening
While Warner Bros. is projecting a conservative $65 million debut for the much anticipated sci-fi sequel, box office analysts foresee a haul between $70 million and $80 million. Especially, as moviegoers are likely to gravitate toward premium large format screenings, which are pricier than regular tickets.


Bloomberg
Hollywood Is Banking on Dune: Part Two to Revive the Blockbuster Experience
“Everywhere I go, everyone’s always asking me, ‘When’s Dune opening? When’s Dune opening?’ We really need that first blockbuster to start the year, as blockbusters fuel ticket sales for other movies, and I think Dune 2 is going to be it for us,” says Bob Bagby, chairman of the National Association of Theatre Owners and chief executive officer of the 100-year-old B&B Theatres chain. B&B’s ticket presales for the sequel are the best since the Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour concert movie, released in October, Bagby says.

CinemaBlend
‘I Could Rave About This Movie Forever’: Top Movie Theater Executives Talk About Massive Impact Godzilla Minus One Had On The Industry
While the world is more than primed to see Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire absolutely crush on the 2024 movie schedule, it was quite the surprise when the Toho-produced Godzilla Minus One went on to stomp out its own path to glory. As the domestic run of the film draws to a close, it’s insane to look at the records co-writer/director Takashi Yamazaki has broken, with an estimated $104.7 million total in worldwide grosses.

That Cinderzilla story became quite a lesson for top theater executives throughout the National Association of Theatre Owners, and the recent re-release of Godzilla Minus One/Minus Color only further reinforced those ideas. As I was able to speak with several exhibitors on behalf of this variant’s limited theatrical run, it led to some exciting feedback on how this film and its massive impact on the industry. 


The Cinema Foundation

The Cinema Foundation, teaming up with USC Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future, is all set to unveil a blockbuster presentation at CinemaCon. Get ready for “DATA: THE KNOWLEDGE OF TODAY’S CONSUMER IS THE CURRENCY OF TOMORROW.” 🌟
But here’s the twist: We’re putting YOU in the director’s chair! 🎬 Your insights on your consumer data are key to making this showstopper shine.
Click here to complete the survey 📊

We Want To Meet at CinemaCon!
We’d love to catch up and hear from you! Please sign up for a time when you can tell us how we can assist you throughout the year or just say hello. We appreciate your support!

Click the link below to sign-up for a 15-minute meeting. We look forward to seeing you in person!


New Member Spotlight

We are very excited to welcome our newest members of NATO!

Twilight Drive-In, Aldergrove, BC, Canada
Red Cinemas LLC, Greensboro, NC
Jam Jar Cinema, Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear, United Kingdom
Multisala Odeon, Pisa, Italy
The Historic Artcraft Theatre, Franklin, IN


Box Office

January 1-February 28, 2023: $1,100,772,769
January 1-February 28, 2024: $880,511,977 -20% year/year

NATO Monthly Report, January 2024

Letter from the CEO

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION…

I am writing this from the airport in Omaha awaiting my flight back to DC after a fun night with the Barstows at their ACX Cinema 12+ in Elkhorn, NE. It was terrific to catch-up with Colleen, Bill and Andrea and tour their wonderful family entertainment center. Everything is state of the art at the Cinema 12+. They have 12 auditoriums, one of which houses the largest commercial screen in Nebraska (incredible), two bars, games for kids, multiple places for people to meet and relax, a great outdoor deck (for the warmer months), a terrific reception space and an amazing restaurant, Backlot Pizza and Kitchen. The food and wine at Backlot was memorable as was the chance to talk with the Barstows about their passion for this industry. Thank you, Colleen and Bill, for the invite. Everything about the ACX Cinema 12+ challenges the conventional ideas that many still hold about what going to the theatre means. It is a stunning example of exhibition responding, in a big way, to todays movie-going public. We must do a better job of highlighting the great movie showhouses that dot this nation and show Hollywood and the world what going to the movies really looks like.

Since my flight is now delayed, I am catching up this morning on the fallout from the Oscar nominations. But before turning to that, let’s go back to the start of this year’s award season and Margot Robbie’s salute to movie lovers and to the magic of the theatre. In accepting the newly created award for Cinematic and Box Office Achievement at the Golden Globes, Robbie lent her unwavering support to magic of theatrical exhibition, saying, “I would like to dedicate this to every single person on the planet who dressed up and went to the greatest place on earth, the movie theaters.” What an amazing way to start the new year! And a tip of the hat to the Golden Globes for creating an award that recognizes the people all over the world who love movies.

Speaking of people who love movies, Barbie fans everywhere are angry that Greta Gerwig was not nominated for best director. Being at the helm of a movie that had the cultural and financial impact of Barbie made this omission a surprise. A New York Times article suggested that the nominating body may, in the end, just see Barbie as a movie about a toy. Regardless of how one felt about the movie, no one can honestly say it was just about a toy. And with all due respect to Toy Story, if making a movie about a toy that grosses nearly $1.5 billion is so easy, why hasn’t anyone done it before? To be fair, this was a stacked year and there were lots of worthy candidates in all categories, but Gerwig’s omission has taken center stage. Frankly, America (and the world) loves drama, and this is certainly that! But the debate and the emotion around Gerwig’s omission is yet another reminder of just how much people love movies and how they often drive our cultural conversations.

Looking at the nominations overall, they reflect the variety of movies that were available in 2023. Blockbusters like Barbie and Oppenheimer, Killers of the Flower Moon, as well as smaller fare like The Holdovers, American Fiction, and even foreign films like Anatomy of a Fall, which I loved. It’s a clear reminder that if movie fans have compelling films to choose from, they will respond. Award season is great for exhibition, not just because people come out and take a look at the nominated films, but because they remind the world all the magical possibilities that exist at the cinema. For that reason alone, award season in Hollywood is worth celebrating.

Assuming I make it home, I am seeing The Holdovers tomorrow, and Zone of Interest the following day. I am looking forward to not being on a plane and spending a few magical hours in the greatest place on earth.

  • Michael

NATO UPDATES & EVENTS

February SOTI – Register Now
Please join us for our first SOTI of the year on February 15 at 2:00 EST/ 11:00 am PST! The link to register for the SOTI can be found here.  

Small Business Tax Tips
In case you missed our webinar on best tax practices for small businesses with author Barbara Weltman, that can be found here

Company Logos Collection
NATO needs your help! We want to feature NATO member logos at CinemaCon, which means we’ll need a HIGH RESOLUTION .EPS or .AI file of the logo from you. We are asking all of our members to provide your company logo via dropbox, using this link. 
Before uploading, please ensure your file is named with the following format: company name_HQ city_HQ state abbreviation. For example, if I uploaded a logo for NATO, which is headquartered in Washington, DC, I would name the file NATO_Washington_DC.
If you have questions or concerns about this, please contact Erin Von Hoetzendorff at evh@natoca.com.


GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS

NATO joins effort to Block NLRB’s Joint Employer Rule NATO joined a coalition letter to Congress in support of bipartisan resolutions in the House and Senate to block the National Labor Relations Board’s flawed Joint Employer rule in Congress. The letter was spearheaded by the Coalition to Save Local Businesses, consisting of 200 state and national organizations representing businesses that would be affected by the rule, scheduled to go into effect on February 26. In January, the House passed its resolution by a strong bipartisan vote of 206-177. The Senate is expected to vote in the coming weeks. 
 
DOL Issues Independent Contractor Rule 
The DOL issued a final rule on Employee or Independent Contractor Classification Under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The new rule implements a multifactor analysis to determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. To learn more about the rule, which takes effect March 11, read the DOL’s FAQs.

House Approves Bipartisan Tax Bill
The House has decisively passed a bipartisan tax bill with a 357 to 70 vote, well beyond the required two-thirds majority. This legislation reinstates numerous business tax credits, notably those for research and development and interest expensing. The bill now advances to the Senate. For more details, click here


CinemaCon 2024 COUNTDOWN

Independent Cinema’s Spotlight Shines at Caesars Palace 

The Independent Theatre Owners Coalition (ITOC) annual meeting returns to CinemaCon in Caesars Palace on Monday, April 8, from 11:30am to 2:45pm PDT. Join us for this important gathering where operators of small business cinemas, non-profits, and art houses engage in meaningful discussions, network, share experiences, and contribute to the future of the independent movie theatre industry. We respectfully request that companies attending the ITOC meeting restrict their representatives to individuals who are actively engaged in management and operations. 

Special Note for 2024: For the first time ever, independent cinema owners and operators with more than 75 screens are invited to register for the ITOC meeting. This expansion aims to encompass a wider range of voices within the independent cinema community, enhancing our discussions and collaborative efforts.


NATO in the News

Hollywood Reporter
Art House Movies Are Having Their TikTok Moment The wrestling drama The Iron Claw has quietly grossed $31.5 million domestically at the box office since its Christmas launch, a veritable fortune for an independent film in the post-pandemic age and one of the best showings ever for distributor A24. And it isn’t the only specialty movie doing impressive business these days thanks to a powerful new ally: younger adults. For years, art house movies relied on the “elderverse,” as one indie executive puts it — i.e., moviegoers over age 35 or 40. But that relationship collapsed during the COVID-19 crisis and has yet to be fully restored. At the same time, the 18-to-34 crowd started snubbing once surefire genres like superhero fare and began venturing beyond their comfort zone. Adds Neon distribution chief Elissa Federoff: “Also, people are realizing that streaming is leveling off. There’s less good content to watch at home.”

Deadline
‘American Fiction’, ‘Poor Things’ & ‘Zone Of Interest’ To Reap Oscar Halo Effect At Box Office; Best Pics At $2.7B WW, Down From 2023

“On behalf of movie theatre owners across the United States and around the world, we celebrate the ten films nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards,” says NATO President & CEO Michael O’Leary today in a statement. “The diversity on display is a testament to what a great year 2023 was for people who love to watch movies on the big screen. Combined, the Best Picture nominees have brought in an incredible $2.7 billion in box office globally. This is an exciting moment for all the moviegoers around the world who are experiencing these films the way they were meant to be seen at their local theatres.”


The Cinema Foundation

National Popcorn Day
Thank you for participating in National Popcorn Day 2024! The success of this campaign once again shows the importance and reach of movie theaters’ promotional efforts in earned and social media and the value of partnerships across the industry that the Cinema Foundation can leverage on your behalf.  Some highlights of National Popcorn Day media include:
 

USA TODAY:

National Popcorn Day

TODAY.COM:

National Popcorn Day

CALIFORNIA LIVE /NBC CALIFORNIA (TV)

National Popcorn Day with Cinema Foundation’s Bryan Braunlich

GOOD DAY NEW YORK (TV)

National Popcorn Day with Fandango’s Erik Davis

Be on the lookout for more industry promotions coming soon!


2024 Pledges
Consider fulfilling your 2024 pledge today – click here to donate. Your continued support enables us to strengthen the cinema industry & engage moviegoing audiences.


New Member Spotlight

We are very excited to welcome our newest members of NATO!

Cineplexx Kinobetriebe Gmbh, Austria, Bosnia, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, Nord Mazedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia
Cinema Centre & Holly Theatre, Beatrice, NE
Ford-Wyoming Drive In, LLC, Dearborn, MI            
The Peacock Theatre, Monticello, IN
Rooftop Cinema Club, Marina Del Rey, CA
Epix Cinemas, Bahrain
Town Hall Theater, Lowville, NY
Yerington Movie House, Yerington, NV
Xscape Theatres, New Albany, IN


Box Office

January 1-January 31, 2024: $512,549,378
January 1-January 31, 2023: $594,778,626
-13.8% 

The Cinema Foundation Announces National Popcorn Day,  with Major Discounts on Movie Concessions, Arriving at a Theatre Near You on January 19th

National Popcorn Day Celebrates the Joy of the Favorite Movie Snack with Discounted Pricing at Participating Theatres

LOS ANGELES – January 12, 2024 – The Cinema Foundation, in partnership with Fandango, announced the arrival of National Popcorn Day, coming to a theatre near you on Friday,  January 19th. This beloved date celebrates the joy of snacking America’s favorite concession at theatres with discounted concession prices, unlimited popcorn refills, free popcorn with the purchase of a drink and other special promotions at participating U.S. theatres. To find participating theatres and their individual offers, visit your local movie theatre’s website or app or visit Fandango.  

More than 30,000 screens across the country will participate in the one-day event featuring discounts on popcorn, and other concessions only in theatres. New movies playing in theatres include Mean Girls (Angourie Rice, Reneé Rapp), The Beekeeper (Jason Statham), Ava  DuVernay’s Origin (Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor), Blumhouse’s Night Swim (Wyatt Russell, Kerry  Condon), The Book of Clarence (LaKeith Stanfield), I.S.S. (Ariana DeBose, Chris Messina), the theatrical re-releases of Christopher Nolan’s Golden Globe Award-Winning Oppenheimer,  Pixar’s Soul, and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, plus recent holiday releases like  Wonka, The Color Purple, Migration, Hollywood’s top awards season contenders, and so much more.  

“Popcorn at the movies was first introduced 95 years ago, and it’s been an inseparable part of the moviegoing experience ever since,” says Bryan Braunlich, Executive Director of The  Cinema Foundation. “National Popcorn Day will bring together millions of film fans of all ages to  watch new movies on the big screen while enjoying their favorite theatre snacks at discounted  prices.”  

“We are excited to continue to partner with The Cinema Foundation to celebrate National  Popcorn Day in theatres nationwide,” said Jerramy Hainline, EVP of Fandango. “The  moviegoing experience is where people connect, emotions flow freely, and on January 19th fans  can experience the magic of the big screen with their favorite movie snacks in hand at a  discounted price.”  

According to the National Association of Concessionaires: 

• Popcorn is American moviegoers’ favorite snack food. 

• Popcorn represents more than 60% of snack food sales at the nation’s theatres. • 4.5 billion quarts of popcorn are consumed at U.S. movie theatres and other live venues every year. 

According to a Fandango survey of more than 6,000 moviegoers: 

• 94% purchased concessions during their trips to theatres. 

• 88% said they order popcorn regularly.

Popcorn historian Andrew F. Smith, author of “Popped Culture,” estimates that popcorn was introduced at movie theatres in 1929 around the advent of talking pictures.  

For more details, visit your local theatre site or app or Fandango.  

ABOUT THE CINEMA FOUNDATION 

The Cinema Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit dedicated to promoting and enhancing the cinema exhibition industry through activities such as training and education,  career development, diversity, and inclusion, moviegoing promotion, and data and research efforts. 

Since March 2022, the Cinema Foundation’s mission has been dedicated to shaping the future of the great collective experience of moviegoing and the cinema industry. It works to support and impact the health of the cinema sector both in the short term and for years to come, while continuously expanding its contributions to the magic of moviegoing. The Cinema Foundation builds on the National Association of Theatre Owners’ mission and relationships and expands  NATO’s impact in ways that help individual employees, companies and the industry as a whole.  For more info, visit www.thecinemafoundation.org.  

ABOUT FANDANGO 

Fandango digital network provides unrivaled, instant access to all things movies and TV,  enhancing fan enjoyment across the entire entertainment journey. The portfolio serves more than  50 million unique visitors per month and includes leading online movie ticketer, Fandango, which  tickets for 31,000 U.S. movie screens; world-renowned entertainment review site, Rotten  Tomatoes; and Vudu, the on-demand streaming service offering the industry’s best selection of  4K UHD titles and more than 250,000 new release and catalogue movies and next day TV shows. 

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CONTACT 

Phil Contrino 
Director of Media & Research, NATO 
610-844-2459 
prc@natodc.com 

Harry Medved 
Media Relations, NATO/The Cinema Foundation 
310-200-1201 
harry@thecinemafoundation.org