NATO sets dates for CinemaCon trade show

Event set for March 28-31 in Vegas; will succeed ShoWest

The post-ShoWest future came into a little sharper focus Thursday.

The National Association of Theatre Owners said it will stage its first CinemaCon trade show March 28-31 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The group previously had announced only the venue and a spring slotting for the event and hinted that the confab will hew close to its trade show progenitor by hiring former ShoWest officials Mitch Neuhauser and Andrew Sunshine to run CinemaCon.

CinemaCon effectively succeeds ShoWest as exhibition's annual gathering, as NATO resumes hands-on control of the confab. The group also confirmed that it will offer the customary movie screenings, seminars and a trade show floor, with Neuhauser on board to organize programming and Sunshine primarily booking floor booths.

"Following the highly successful 36-year run of ShoWest, NATO will now run and oversee the largest annual gathering for the cinema industry," the industry nonprofit said. "It is expected that, in its first year, CinemaCon will attract more than 5,000 industry members from all facets of the cinema world."

Signature Theatres founder Phil Harris and Georgia Theatres chief Bill Stembler chair NATO's CinemaCon committee.

"This is an exciting new beginning, as NATO and its members take ownership of the largest and most important convention for the motion picture theater industry," they said.

Regal Entertainment executive chairman Mike Campbell and Cinemark chairman Lee Roy Mitchell will serve as honorary chairmen of the confab.