CinemaCon Canceled Due to Coronavirus Outbreak

Caesars Palace - Getty - H 2020
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The annual gathering of theater owners and Hollywood studios had been scheduled to run March 30-April 2 in Las Vegas.

CinemaCon has been canceled due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

The annual event, which brings together Hollywood studios and movie theater owners from around the world, was set to run March 30-April 2 at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. The confab is hosted by the National Association of Theatre Owners.

"It is with great regret we are announcing the cancellation of CinemaCon 2020," NATO president John Fithian and CinemaCon organizer Mitch Neuhauser said Wednesday in a joint statement.

"Each spring, motion picture exhibitors, distributors and industry partners from around the world meet in Las Vegas to share information and celebrate the moviegoing experience. This year, due to the travel ban from the European Union, the unique travel difficulties in many other areas of the world and other challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic, a significant portion of the worldwide motion picture community is not able to attend CinemaCon," the statement continued.

There had been concern within NATO that canceling CinemaCon could send the message that it isn't safe to go to movie theaters, but other events changed that thinking.

The decision to scrub the gathering came hours after President Donald Trump announced a travel ban from Europe to the U.S. At least 20 percent of CinemaCon delegates come from abroad.

Additionally, as more and more cases of COVID-19 are reported in the U.S., at least two of the five major Hollywood studios expressed concern about being forced to host pared-back presentations should talent be wary about traveling to Las Vegas, as well as studio employees.

"While local outbreaks vary widely in severity, the global circumstances make it impossible for us to mount the show that our attendees have come to expect. After consultation with our attendees, trade show exhibitors, sponsors, and studio presenters, NATO has decided therefore to cancel CinemaCon 2020. We look forward to continuing the 10-year tradition of presenting the largest movie theater convention in the world and joining our attendees in future celebrations of the moviegoing experience," the statement added. 

Ahead of the cancellation, delegations from impacted markets China, South Korea, Italy and Japan had already nixed plans to attend the convention.

The decision follows Tuesday's news that NAB is canceling its annual show in Las Vegas, scheduled for the week after CinemaCon. And late last week, SXSW, which was set to run Friday through March 22 in Austin, Texas, announced it was being canceled.

It's unclear whether NATO, or the studios, will be able to recoup any of the costs they have already spent on the show.

COVID-19 has resulted in more than 4,600 deaths worldwide and affected more than 100,000 people in numerous countries.