Magazine article Screen International

CinemaCon: Theatre Trade Group Chief Predicts First Billion-Dollar March

Magazine article Screen International

CinemaCon: Theatre Trade Group Chief Predicts First Billion-Dollar March

Article excerpt

NATO president John Fithian on Tuesday delivered a typically robust appraisal of the theatrical business, backed by last year's unadjusted $11.4bn North American box office record.

While Fithian did not address the thorny issue of windows - although he later acknowledged to reporters that talks were ongoing between distributors and exhibitors - he was only too happy to talk up the first quarter of 2017.

The NATO chief noted how the period bucked analysts' predictions and was tracking a little over 2% ahead of the same period a year ago, powered by the likes of Beauty And The Beast, Logan and The LEGO Batman Movie, horror smashes Get Out and Split, and Oscar season holdovers Hidden Figures and La La Land.

Box office heroics led to this grandstanding prediction: "It's fair to say the industry will have it's first billion dollar March in history and the first quarter numbers will be up again."

Fithian recapped the findings of last week's annual report by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), noting that North American grosses climbed 2% to $11.4bn in 2016, while worldwide gained 1% to reach $38.6bn.

International's flat $27.2bn tally was due in part to the exchange rate and strong dollar, a point Fithian and his peers at the MPAA have been keen to emphasise in the last week.

Turning to a broader perspective, the trade group head noted how box office in North America weathered two economic downturns to grow 40.2% over 15 years from $8.11bn in 2001 to last year's haul.

The NATO chief moved to dispel the notion that Millennials do not go to the cinema. …

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