John Fithian, president and CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners and Mitch Neuhauser, managing director of the trade show CinemaCon have issued a joint memo to the industry offering an update regarding the impact the Coronavirus or COVID-19 is having on CinemaCon 2020, set to convene March 30 at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. In doing so they made one thing clear: as of now, CinemaCon 2020 will go on as planned.
“We are closely monitoring the Coronavirus situation and want to confirm for you that CinemaCon 2020 will be held as planned and will be a great show,” their memo read. “We also want to let you know that the safety and productivity of our attendees remains our highest priority.”
Here is the rest of their memo:
The NATO and CinemaCon management teams have been in regular contact with the Centers for Disease Control and other health officials. Based on those consultations and the CDC’s public reports we provided an extensive update earlier this week to the NATO Executive Board. With this information, and additional factors described below, the Executive Board decided that CinemaCon 2020 should go on as planned and that all appropriate measures will be taken to ensure the safety and productivity of our delegates and supporters. Team CinemaCon is hard at work putting together what we know is going to be a terrific show.
There are many factors in play as it concerns this decision, including:
NATO and CinemaCon believe that our plans going forward should be based on logical risk assessments and advice from health officials, and not from fear. At the same time, we want to be sensitive to the legitimate concerns of those people and companies that have been affected by the virus, most notably in Asia and a few other affected territories.
We fully respect the decision of any potential attendee not to attend the convention. Most of that impact will come from some international attendees. We have already seen this from those areas hardest hit in China. Nonetheless, our weekly registration numbers are tracking evenly with where we were at this time last year. On the trade floor, those Chinese companies who were to be on hand have all made a decision not to attend CinemaCon 2020, primarily because of travel bans that are in place. This amounts to approximately two-dozen attendees.
We know that some other delegates contemplating attending the show may choose not to attend or may not be able to. We want to assure those affected participants that any organization or individual based in a country with travel restrictions due to the Coronavirus will receive a full refund.
Pro-active measures that we are taking include closely monitoring the situation, including regular calls with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and other relevant health and governmental organizations. We will follow their direction and guidance where appropriate.
We have been in close contact with the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, Las Vegas health and safety officials, and Caesars Palace to coordinate all appropriate safety procedures for the show. Indeed the CinemaCon management team is in Vegas this week holding those discussions.
An encouraging measure of the impact of Coronavirus is that the number of concerned emails or phone calls coming to us are minimal. We are, though, inundated with our normal number of emails and calls that are all about the planning of the convention.
From a programming standpoint, all of our Colosseum events from studios are now fully locked in place, as we have Disney, Focus Features, Lionsgate, Neon, Paramount, Universal (presentation and screening) and Warner Bros. (presentation and screening) all confirmed for nine total events. We have been in contact with our studio partners and they support our decision to move forward with the show as planned.
The trade show, even with the Chinese exhibitors not attending, is 99 percent sold out and the rest of our programming is right on par.
We are also in contact with the American Society of Association Executives to monitor the plans and procedures of other trade associations hosting large conventions or conferences over the next few months. For example, right here in Las Vegas, the two major conventions in the same time frame are moving forward with their plans - ConExpo (March 10-14) and the NAB Show (April 18-22). Indeed, we know of no convention in Las Vegas that has plans to cancel their event.
NATO and CinemaCon will continue to address this ongoing situation in as respectful and intelligent a fashion as possible. We have every expectation of a successful and well-attended CinemaCon 2020 celebrating the movie going experience.
On behalf of NATO and CinemaCon, we thank you for taking the time to review all of this and please, if you have thoughts or comments, we urge you to call us and to keep this dialogue going.