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The National Association of Theatre Owners has found its next leader in Michael P. O’Leary, who will succeed John Fithian as president and CEO.
O’Leary will officially join the NATO team on April 10 in order to allow for a transition period before he officially takes over the leadership reigns on May 1 following CinemaCon, the annual convention for theater owners in Las Vegas.
NATO’s executive board tapped O’Leary for his broad experience in government affairs, lobbying and entertainment. He’s served in senior positions at The Entertainment Software Association, 21st Century Fox, the Motion Picture Association, on Capitol Hill and at the Department of Justice.
“Michael brings with him extensive knowledge and strategic senior leadership, having worked with and led teams within the broader entertainment industry both domestically and internationally,” said Rolando Rodriguez, NATO board chair and chief advisor at theater circuit Marcus Corporation.
“With the help and support of our very talented NATO team, as well as our friends at the film companies, artistic community and lawmakers, we will continue to grow back the motion picture theater industry with Michael’s leadership,” Rodriguez continued in a statement.
Added O’Leary, “The cinematic experience is an enduring and dynamic part of the entertainment landscape in communities everywhere. I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to work with the leaders of this iconic global industry and the talented and dedicated team at NATO to chart its next chapter.”
The transition at NATO comes at a critical juncture as the film business rebounds from the COVID-19 crisis and competes with streaming.
As the largest global organization of movie theater owners, NATO plays a critical role advocating for the interests of theatrical. Its members represent more than 67,000 screens across the United States and world.
NATO also administers the movie ratings system in conjunction with the MPA.
“Michael is, of course, no stranger to the MPA. During nearly a decade on our team, he led the Global Policy and External Affairs Department and achieved numerous successes on behalf of our member studios and the industry. His selection to lead NATO’s next chapter gives me great confidence that our two associations will continue to forge the close and collaborative relationship that enables us to advance our many common goals,” MPA chair-CEO Charles Rivkin said in a statement.
Fithian, who has presided over NATO as president since 2000, has spent a total of 30 years working for the lobbying and trade organization.
“Also on behalf of the NATO Executive Board we want to thank John Fithian for his tremendous contributions to the exhibition industry. His leadership, dedication, commitment, accomplishments and passion will long be remembered as he retires on May 1,” Rodriguez added in the statement.
NATO’s headquarters are in Washington, D.C., where O’Leary resides.
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