Gianopulos 'bullish' on movie business

ShoWest keynoter says int'l markets, 3-D are growth areas

LAS VEGAS – It was message at once upbeat and sober.

"While I'm bullish about the movies, we can't ignore the economic realities," said Jim Gianopulos, chairman and CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment, in a keynote address Monday at ShoWest 2009. "The current economic downturn is quite serious and will affect every business."

But the good news for industryites is that the movie business is turning out to be just as recession-resistant as ever in the current fiscal crisis, Gianopulos added.

"(Surveys show) even those who describe their economic situation as 'very bad' are just as likely to go to the movies as those whose condition is 'very good,'" he said.

Gianopulos' remarks were delivered at a ballroom luncheon scheduled to kick off ShoWest on a day devoted to entertainment issues. The annual exhibition confab traditionally has set aside Monday as its day for seminars and events aimed at international attendees, but domestic and foreign topics were combined this year with as the luncheon trumpeted the theme "ShoWest Goes Global."

"International markets now contribute two-thirds of the worldwide boxoffice, but they represent 95% of the world's population," Gianopulos said.

That translate into growth opportunity, he said. Gianopulos said ticket premiums associated with 3-D exhibition represent another big chance for revenue growth.

ShoWest already seems to be displaying a twin personality this year: Exhibitors and others say they are upbeat over the booming year-to-date boxoffice, but they are clearly in a cautious and conservative mood over the downbeat operating environment for the industry.

But if the lending atmosphere has hampered the rollout of new equipment and new theaters, that won't last long, Gianopulos predicted. "Even in the toughest times, money finds its way to the right ideas," the Fox chief said.

ShoWest continues through Thursday at the Bally's and Paris hotels here.