2001-2011: ShoWest’s Makeover as CinemaCon

By Alesandra Dubin August 29, 2011, 8:45 AM EDT

Photo: Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging

More than 6,000 people from the worldwide motion picture theater industry took over Caesars Palace in March for the inaugural CinemaCon, the official convention of the trade organization known as the National Association of Theatre Owners. But though it had a new name, CinemaCon was not a new show: The event replaced the former, long-running ShoWest conference, which had its last go in 2010, when events like Sony’s luncheon for The Karate Kid alone drew 3,000 guests.

CinemaCon managing director Mitch Neuhauser explained that the decades-old ShoWest had been run as a profit-driven event, and the association’s ownership means the trade group is now better able to control the pricing and bring more value to attendees. Thus the rebranding as CinemaCon was born. For a fresh start, the event moved to Caesars Palace from Bally’s and Paris Las Vegas, which offered new opportunities like a conference center that allows for a self-contained trade show, food functions, and ancillary meeting space. In the new venue, the trade show takes over three floors. “People are going to have to be open-minded, get the lay of the land, and embrace it,” Neuhauser said before the 2011 show, which sold out two months prior to event date and drew 500 exhibitors.

In previous years, ShoWest had an official corporate sponsor, but with CinemaCon owned by a trade organization, “we need to be politically fair and correct,” Neuhauser said, regarding the choice of sponsor Coca-Cola. “In our industry, there are major manufacturers in the digital projection world. We knew we couldn’t go after an official corporate sponsor and have one competitive company over the next. We realized that if there was one company that could serve as an official presenting sponsor, it would be the Coca-Cola Company. They are there to promote the moviegoing experience.”

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