CinemaCon Shake-Up: Sony Sitting Out Annual Gathering

Spider-man: Far From Home Still - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Spider-Man: Far From Home

Fox's appearance at the gathering of theater owners as a stand-alone studio is also in doubt in light of the looming Disney-Fox merger.

In a historic break, Sony will sit out this year's CinemaCon, the annual gathering of theater owners where studios parade their upcoming summer and winter slates, sources confirm.

For years, the six major Hollywood studios have made the trek to Las Vegas for the show, where elaborate and pricey presentations are staged inside the giant Colosseum at Caeser's Palace, complete with footage and top talent.

20th Century Fox, which is on the verge of being bought by Disney, could also scrap a stand-alone presentation, with their films folded into Disney's.

This year's CinemaCon runs April 1-4.

Sources say the overall cost of attending CinemaCon can be as much as $2 million when factoring in total costs.

CinemaCon is hosted by the National Association of Theatre Owners, which has gotten high marks for reviving the show when taking over as sole host in 2011. NATO's decision to do so came after Universal skipped ShoWest, CinemaCon's predecessor. Universal took a wait-and-see attitude the first year of CinemaCon, but otherwise, no major studio has skipped CinemaCon since.

Sony's summer slate is replete with major tentpoles and event pics, including Men in Black International, Spider-Man: Far From Home and Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (last year at CinemaCon, Tarantino and Leonardo DiCaprio took the stage with Sony film chief Tom Rothman to plug the film).

Sony wants to redirect its efforts and use the time and money it would have spent on a CinemaCon presentation in other ways, sources say. At the same time, it means Sony won't partake in the blitz of headlines and social media conversation generated by the show. For its part, Sony is confident in the cards it's holding.

It's certainly true the original purpose of ShoWest — to gather theater owners in one place and give them a sense of the movies they'd be booking — has changed with the advent of the digital age.

Jan. 24, 1:15 p.m. An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Disney had skipped CinemaCon. THR regrets the error.