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The 2021 edition of CinemaCon — the annual gathering of cinema owners and Hollywood studios at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas — is facing headwinds amid growing concerns over the COVID-19 Delta variant.
This week, Disney informed the National Association of Theatre Owners, the host of the show, that it was dropping plans to stage a presentation and instead will screen one of its upcoming movies in full during its allotted time on Aug. 25, in addition to virtual participation, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. The decision means that Disney won’t have to send executives and staff to Las Vegas at a time of heightened concern regarding Delta.
Sources say the studio has been mulling the situation for several weeks.
As of Friday, the rest of the major studios were still intending to stage in-person presentations, although few stars are expected to attend this year because of the pandemic.
The White House has declared southern Nevada a “sustained hotspot” in recent days amid a sharp spike in COVID-19 cases, while Los Angeles County officials have warned its residents against traveling to the gambling mecca.
CinemaCon is traditionally held in in the spring. This year, it is scheduled for Aug. 23-26 at Caesars, home of the Colosseum, an entertainment venue where studios present their upcoming slates.
This year’s event was already expected to be truncated because of the timing. Studios are planning on focusing on showing footage, versus staging glitzy presentations. The chief aim is to once again bring together studio executives and exhibitors to support the future of the theatrical experience.
A Las Vegas casino, however, isn’t a regular multiplex. Holding a convention at Caesars gives NATO little power to control the thousands of people not affiliated with the event who are using the casino and hotel. However, anyone entering the Colosseum to watch a studio presentation must be vaccinated or be tested.
Disney’s decision also came several days after NATO issued a press release blasting the company for revealing that Black Widow made $60 million during its opening weekend on Disney+ Premier Access, in addition to earning north of $158 million in its global launch over the July 9-11 weekend. NATO said that trumpeting the additional revenue undermines the theatrical experience, and that it was misleading.
Insiders say CinemaCon has nothing to do with the NATO missive.
NATO didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.
CinemaCon 2022 is scheduled to run April 22-25.
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