ShoWest's last stand

Exhibitor convention calling it quits after 2010 edition

Like a Hollywood hero riding into the sunset, this year's ShoWest will be the last for the venerable convention.

Longtime ShoWest co-managing director Mitch Neuhauser was hired away in September by the National Association of Theatre Owners to spearhead CinemaCon, a new event launching in Las Vegas next March. He's on loan for this year's ShoWest to help with the program and prepare for the transition.

"This convention is going to be back in the hands of the industry," Neuhauser says.

NATO declined to renew its 10-year deal with Nielsen and its successor E5 (the owner of The Hollywood Reporter, which bought the convention from Nielsen along with some of its business publications). Exhibitor conventions ShowEast, CinemaExpo and CineAsia will continue under the E5 banner.

"I'm saddened that we're not going to have our show as we normally have," says Robert Sunshine, editor and publisher of Film Journal International, who also oversees ShoWest for E5. "But I don't think it would be in the best interests of the industry for us to try and do a show in Vegas within weeks of (NATO)."

The theater convention business has been hit in recent years by consolidation among both exhibitors and distributors. ShoWest attendance, which peaked in 2000 at 10,000, was down to about 2,500 last year.

NATO has signed a three-year contract to hold its new event at Caesars Palace, with screenings in the supersized Colosseum theater, run by AEG.

"We will be able to accommodate all the delegates under the same roof (for screenings) at the same time," Neuhauser says, "as compared to ShoWest where we have to use two different auditoriums."