Boxoffice Pro - Winter 2020

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Emerald Fennell Directs Carey

Mulligan in Focus Features’

Candy-Colored Thriller

The Official Magazine of the National Association of Theatre Owners

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Winter 2020


02 Winter 2020

Winter 2020


Save the Dates...


21-24 JUNE, 2021

OCTOBER 18-21, 2021


6-9 DECEMBER, 2021


04 Winter 2020

Winter 2020



Coming Attractions

A selection of upcoming

releases through the

beginning of 2021


The Perfect Pairing

Could Wine Emerge as One

of Cinema's Post-Pandemic

F&B Trends?


International Excellence

Celebrating This Year’s ICTA

EMEA Award Winners


Promising Young Women

Emerald Fennell Directs Carey

Mulligan in Focus Features’

Candy-Colored Thriller,

Promising Young Woman


On the Road Again

Chloé Zhao Takes to the Great

Outdoors with Nomadland

Winter 2020









NATO Members Discuss Path

Forward for Exhibition Industry

During Annual Meetings

NATO: In Memoriam

Lene Løken (1947–2020)

Charity Spotlight

A Recap of Industry-Wide Charity


Bridging the Gap

A Conversation About Diverse

Representation in Cinema with

Rolando Rodriguez





Holding Down the Fort

Shelli Taylor Joins Alamo

Drafthouse as New CEO

Food & Beverage

Concessions Will Play a Crucial

Role in Cinemas’ Recovery. It Also

Introduces New Challenges.

The Perfect Pairing

Could Wine Emerge as One of

Cinema's Post-Pandemic F&B Trends?

International Excellence

Celebrating This Year’s ICTA EMEA

Award Winners





Promising Young Women

Emerald Fennell Directs Carey

Mulligan in Focus Features’

Candy-Colored Thriller,

Promising Young Woman

On the Road Again

Chloé Zhao Takes to the Great

Outdoors with Nomadland

Coming Attractions

A selection of upcoming releases

through the beginning of 2021

Booking Guide



Industry Insiders

Daniel Borschke Says Goodbye

to the National Association of


A Century in Exhibition

The 1980s: Megabucks, MTV,

and Megaplexes


A Century of Innovation

An Abridged Timeline of the Last

100 Years of Cinema Presentation

Presented by Dolby

“[The three theaters] in

different ways illustrate how

innovation and continued

diversification of the big

screen experience help

attract audiences.” p. 58

06 Winter 2020





Reflecting every detail with

clarity and precision

We thank our clients for their understanding as we

took the necessary actions to navigate through the

crisis. We are confident that the industry will emerge

strong despite being one of the most affected by

the pandemic, its resilience has stood the test of time.

We look forward to meeting everyone soon. In the

meantime, we hope you stay safe and healthy.

– Ray F. Boegner, President



www.strongmdi.com | 1 877 755-3795 | info@strongmdi.com

07 Winter 2020



Julien Marcel

SVP Content Strategy

Daniel Loría

Creative Direction

Chris Vickers & Craig Scott

at She Was Only

EVP Chief Administrative Officer

Susan Rich

VP Advertising

Susan Uhrlass



Daniel Loría


Rebecca Pahle


Kevin Lally


Laura Silver


Shawn Robbins


Chris Eggertsen

Jesse Rifkin


Diogo Hausen


Susan Uhrlass

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Boxoffice Pro (ISSN 0006-8527), Volume 156, Number 7, Winter 2020. Boxoffice Pro is published by

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08 Winter 2020




“I am hopeful that

2021 will allow us to

reclaim a sense of

normalcy; when that

day comes, we’ll have

a new appreciation

for our ability to

adapt and improvise.“

An extraordinarily difficult year

is finally coming to a close. The

Covid-19 pandemic has left a lasting

mark on the world, most tragically in the

number of deaths and hospitalizations it

has caused. The summer’s optimism for

a swift recovery was soon tempered by

a new rise in cases, leading to a second

wave of lockdown measures across key

European markets in the fall. As we

approach winter, it is painful to take stock

of what we’ve lost, yet we must continue

to focus on the challenges that remain in

the months ahead.

Despite this state of affairs, I am

personally looking forward to 2021 and the

promise it might bring. As of this writing,

there is little certainty as to when the

global health crisis will abate, but there are

clear signs of hope, as promising vaccine

trials and virus treatments continue to

advance. From an economic perspective,

Covid-19 has taught us to adapt. Every

business is operating at a fraction of its

potential—cinemas are no exception—but,

just as scientists find new ways to understand

the virus, we are finding new ways to

engage and stay close to audiences. This is

hardly business as usual, but that doesn’t

mean we’ve lost sight of the business. I am

hopeful that 2021 will allow us to reclaim

a sense of normalcy; when that day comes,

we’ll have a new appreciation for our

ability to adapt and improvise.

In this edition of Boxoffice Pro,

we’ve assembled a collection of stories

about how the pandemic has already

begun to change theatrical exhibition. At

the concession stand, for example, we

look at how vendors have adjusted their

offerings to better suit consumer habits in

the pandemic. Even as concession menus

shrink to the core essentials (popcorn,

candy, soda), several exhibitors we spoke

to report a rise in average spend per person

and an uptick in alcohol sales. It gave

us the opportunity to explore the potential

of wine service at the cinema, a staple

at cultural and arts venues that is slowly

catching on at movie theaters.

Among our executive interviews in this

edition are a conversation with Marcus

Theatres CEO (and newly elected NATO

chairman) Rolando Rodriguez about the

positive changes inclusive practices can

bring the industry, and a profile of Alamo

Drafthouse’s new chief executive, Shelli

Taylor. Rodriguez’s and Taylor’s approach

to exhibition reflect their respective

backgrounds, and their insights offer a

look at how our industry can contribute to

a more diverse and equitable future.

Once again, I’d like to extend our

gratitude to all our sponsors and allies

in the exhibition community who have

helped keep this magazine going during

the pandemic. We could not do this

without you. We may not have the end

of this crisis in sight, but we remain

committed to covering it for our readers

every step of the way.

Daniel Loria

SVP Content Strategy & Editorial Director

Boxoffice Pro

Winter 2020


NATO 12 | Charity Spotlight 18 | Industry Insiders 24 | A Century in Exhibition 28


“And there’s a bigger picture here: There’s an underserved

community out there that is struggling economically without

an outlet for out-of-home entertainment.”

Bridging the Gap, p. 20

Winter 2020





NATO Members Discuss

Path Forward for Exhibition

Industry During Annual



NATO’s Annual Meetings are usually held

in Los Angeles every fall. This year, those

meetings were all held virtually.

While a lack of in-person interaction

with members left a void, we still received

a lot of great feedback on how NATO

should move forward during these

difficult times. Here is a summary of the

meetings that were held:



Following the Advisory Board

meeting, the Executive Board

met in closed session to provide

direction regarding NATO’s priorities,

to consider recommendations presented

by NATO committees and to review

NATO financial reports.

The Executive Board discussed

strategic initiatives currently under way at

NATO, including efforts to help member

companies survive the Covid-19 pandemic—

the state/local government relations

grants program, lobbying support for relief

legislation, an industry public relations

campaign promoting “CinemaSafe,” and the

dues hiatus for fiscal year 2020–2021.

In keeping with its fiduciary

responsibility to the organization, the

Executive Board periodically reviews

NATO financials in detail. At the October

7 meeting, reports were presented by

NATO treasurer Joe Masher, Investment

Committee chairman Dan Harkins, and

Audit Committee chairman David Wright.

A Nominations Committee report,

delivered by outgoing NATO secretary Jeff

Logan, recommended the following slate

of NATO officers for the 2020–2022 term:

• Chairman: Rolando Rodriguez,

Marcus Theatres Corp.

• Vice Chairman: Bob Bagby,

B&B Theatres

• Secretary: John Vincent,

Wellfleet Cinemas

• Treasurer: Joe Masher,

Bow Tie Cinemas

An election was held, and the slate was

elected as presented. The Executive

Board members expressed their gratitude

to outgoing officers, chairman Ellis

Jacob and secretary Jeff Logan, for their

leadership and service.





The Global Cinema Federation and

NATO International Committee

held a joint meeting on Tuesday, October

6. Exhibitors from around the world

gathered virtually to hear from guests

from the Fédération Nationale des

Cinémas Français (FNCF), Federación de

Cines de España (FECE), Hauptverband

Deutscher Filmtheater Kino (HDF),

and the U.K. Cinema Association, who

reported on some success stories

regarding box office and back-to-cinema

campaigns in their respective territories.

Several studies regarding the safety of

cinemas were highlighted during the

meeting, and NATO representatives

discussed CinemaSafe. A review of the

upcoming film release schedule was a

reminder to all that exhibitors worldwide

are being affected by the struggle to defeat

Covid-19 in the United States. Despite

many territories around the world having

reopened cinemas safely months ago, they

too are lacking new, exciting content from

major Hollywood studios, which is hurting

their businesses as well. On October 14,

the Global Cinema Federation sent a letter

to New York’s Governor Cuomo, urging

him to reopen cinemas in his state for the

sake of exhibitors worldwide.



Members of the Strategic Planning

Committee (SPC) used their time

together to discuss several important

topics related to NATO’s work in the

months and years to come.

As the industry looks to rebound

from the pandemic, the SPC will advise

on the timing of any media campaigns

designed to reinvigorate moviegoing and

the resources that will be devoted to those

campaigns. Continuing to work with the

creative community on those campaigns

will be essential.

The SPC discussed the potential of

12 Winter 2020

On October 14, the Global

Cinema Federation sent a

letter to New York’s Governor

Cuomo, urging him to reopen

cinemas in his state for the

sake of exhibitors worldwide.

live sports in movie theaters to offset the

volatility of the release calendar. NATO

staff members are in the process of

connecting to the major sports leagues.

The SPC is also developing ways to

improve diversity and inclusion within

NATO’s committee structure.


NATO’s Membership Committee,

consisting of volunteer members

representing a multitude of member

categories, met on Thursday, October

1. Jeff Logan (Logan Luxury Theatres,

Mitchell, S.D.) chaired his final meeting

of the committee, as John Vincent

(Wellfleet Cinemas, South Wellfleet, Mass.)

assumes the chair position following

his recent election as NATO secretary

on the Executive Board. Also new to the

committee is Gurbani Marwah (Cineplex

Entertainment), a leader on NATO’s Young

Members Committee, who represents the

Canadian member category. In addition

to the traditional governance issues

(Advisory Board roster and emeritus

member approval), the committee agenda

consisted of the current NATO member

dues hiatus, existing member benefit

programs, regional association activities,

and potential educational webinar topics.



NATO’s Diversity and Inclusion

Committee met virtually via

Zoom webinar. During the meeting, the

committee thanked their inaugural

chair, Moctesuma Esparza, CEO of

Maya Cinemas, for his dedication and

leadership during the D&I committee’s

first two years of activity. The committee

also welcomed the new chair of the

committee, Racheal Wilson, COO of

Harkins Theatres. Racheal led the meeting

as various NATO staff discussed previous

accomplishments of the D&I Committee,

including the NATO scholarship program,

the elections toolkit, the D&I case study

white paper, the Greenlight Committee

meetings, and NATO committee

benchmarking. Meeting attendees

Change with the Changing Times




Winter 2020



were surveyed about their companies’

D&I efforts during the pandemic. It

was inspiring to see that a majority of

companies remained committed to D&I

efforts during the pandemic. Attendees

offered plenty of ideas for future D&I

Committee projects, which NATO staff are

looking forward to exploring further.


The Codes Committee met via

Zoom webinar on October 5, 2020.

The meeting was well attended and

supported by our committee chair Don

Harton. Gene Boecker, NATO’s codes

consultant, discussed relevant codes

issues, and Randy Smith, NATO’s legal

consultant, covered relevant ADA issues

for the committee.

Gene Boecker covered issues associated

with the International Code Council (ICC),

NFPA Life Safety Code (101) and Building

Code (5000), ICC/ANSI A117.1, as well as

issues related to adult changing table

requirements. Boecker noted that the 2021

ICC was in the process of being published

and that the NFPA 2021 codes are available

and he will prepare updates associated

with same soon. However, he noted again

that few jurisdictions are ready to adopt

them at this time. As far as ANSI, the code

has no updates, but the group is working

on the scoping appendix to make it code.

Finally, Boecker addressed the issues

associated with existing and proposed

state laws concerning adult changing

stations, which are currently required in

certain facilities in California and Arizona.

Boecker noted that ANSI is also looking

at the issue, which could create enhanced

requirements, such as those in the U.K.

and Australia, beyond those currently

existing in the U.S. Boecker’s team will

continue to monitor the issue.

Randy Smith provided an update

on how the industry’s efforts to modify

theater operations to comply with

federal, state, and local guidelines/

mandates could create ADA issues for

operators. He covered the duty to provide

reasonable accommodations during the

pandemic and how such efforts must

be reflected in operator’s policies and

protocols. The key areas of compliance

The independent member

category represents the largest

group of member companies,

with over 720 companies

in the United States, which

includes 75 nonprofit cinema



14 Winter 2020

discussed included ensuring effective

communication, appropriate parking

options, compliant points of entry/egress,

the impact of mandatory mask policies,

public symptom screening, impact of floor

markings and other signage on individuals

with visual impairments, queue line

issues for individuals with mobility

impairments, maintaining physical

distancing, and impact of reduced

seating capacity. Finally, Smith provided

some basic deescalation protocols that

members could consider in the event

they find themselves having to deal with

an aggressive guest objecting to newly

introduced safety protocols.

The committee will continue to

monitor code and ADA issues and provide

updates as necessary.


Over 200 joined the open

Technology Committee meeting on

Monday October 5, 2020. It is clear that

technology remains important but has

taken a change of direction as theaters

prepare to reopen, and there is a need

to extend the life of existing equipment

rather than invest in new technology.

There is interest in the Digital Cinema

Picture Level (DCPL) Project, but it will

hibernate until we are up and running as

an industry.

Work has continued in the

standardization bodies including those

working on immersive audio. The SMPTE

standard for immersive audio has been

published, and we expect new movies

will change the name of their audio file

from “Atmos” to “IAB.” Those that have

Dolby Atmos systems will be able to play

the newly named files. Those that have

upgraded their immersive systems (DTS/

Barco and others) will be able to play the

new files (and, in fact, the files named

“Atmos” as well).

We held a lively discussion on

the upcoming Direct View (LED)

requirements that are being discussed

at DCI (the studio committee—Digital

Cinema Initiatives—that set the original

standards for the rollout of digital

cinema). NATO hopes that the industry

recognizes that new equipment and

change of standards is a long-term issue

and not a short-term requirement.

NATO will continue to engage with

DCI to share our common views and

industry reality.



The NATO Independent Theatre

Owners Committee (ITOC),

composed of companies operating fewer

than 75 screens, met on Tuesday, October 6,

led by chair Scott Lotter (Paradise Cinemas,

Chico, Calif.) and vice chairwoman Colleen

Barstow (Main Street Theatres, Omaha,

Neb.). The independent member category

represents the largest group of member

companies, with over 720 companies in the

United States, which includes 75 nonprofit

cinema organizations. NATO’s lobbying

efforts receive a substantial amount of

support from the independent members,

both at the state and federal level. The

meeting agenda covered several key topics

confronting smaller cinema companies

during the pandemic, including ancillary

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Winter 2020



cash flow, staff rehiring, and cutting

expenses. Many smaller exhibitors also

face the reality of possible bankruptcy due

to state/local closures and a lack of film

product. Like many other small businesses

across the country, the pandemic has

greatly affected these members. The four

elected members of the NATO Executive

Board from the independent category also

joined the ITOC leadership to share an

update on the association’s deliberations

over the past months.



NATO regional association leaders

came together to discuss reopening

updates and priority issues. These

priorities included reopening followup

issues, emerging issues for the 2021

legislative session, regional legislative

grants, and the top priority, helping to

obtain state-by-state grants for exhibitors.

The NATO regionals will continue

to have bi-weekly calls in order to share

current experiences and coordinate

messaging on the various issues being

addressed nationwide.



Leaders of the Young Members

Committee met to discuss the

status of the industry. The overwhelming

consensus of the meeting was, no matter

how safe cinemas are, the industry will

continue to suffer until there is a more

reliable stream of new, wide releases from

major studios. In the meantime, repertory

content such as classic holiday films

and alternative content like, hopefully,

professional sports games will be key.

Erin Von Hoetzendorff was assigned as

the new NATO staff lead for the Young

Members Committee. If you are interested

in learning more about this committee,

please reach out to her at evh@natoca.com.

All NATO members younger than 40 are

eligible to join.

16 Winter 2020



Lene Løken (1947–2020)

Boxoffice Pro regrets to inform our

readers that industry veteran Lene

Løken passed away in October at the age of 73.

Løken was appointed CEO of Film &

Kino in 1993, serving as the head of the

Norwegian trade association until her

retirement in 2014.

Alongside her considerable

achievements in the Norwegian cinema

sector, Løken was a great supporter of

UNIC, where she served as a vice president.

Løken was one of the co-signatories

of the revised UNIC Statutes when the

decision was made in 2011 to relocate the

organization from Paris to Brussels, in

order to better to influence the European

Commission. In addition to her roles in the

cultural sector, she served as state secretary

to the Norwegian prime minister and as

state secretary to the minister of culture.

“European exhibitors were hugely

saddened to learn of Lene’s recent passing,”

said UNIC president Phil Clapp. “Her

achievements in leading the Norwegian

cinema sector for over two decades were

matched only by the contribution she

made over a number of years to the work

of UNIC. Having served as vice president

to the organization for nine years, we

were very pleased to be able to present

her with the UNIC Achievement Award at

CineEurope 2012. Lene was instrumental

in helping UNIC deliver the changes which

have made it the strong voice for European

cinema operators that it is today.”

NATO president and CEO John Fithian

said, “I started representing exhibition as

a lawyer for NATO in Washington D.C., in

1992, and Lene started her leading role at

Film & Kino in Norway in 1993. We worked

together as NATO and UNIC developed a

strong partnership over the years until she

retired in 2014. For example, I believe that

she was one of the early signatures on a

global exhibition letter calling for standards

for digital cinema in the early aughts. She

was one of the first to understand that

exhibition would be stronger if we all

worked together on a global basis.”

“Lene was instrumental in

helping UNIC deliver the

changes which have made it

the strong voice for European

cinema operators that it is

today.” —Phil Clapp, UNIC

Winter 2020





Variety – the Children’s Charity

With golf being such a popular way to

spend time outdoors during the pandemic,

Variety – the Children’s Charity of the

Delaware Valley (Pa.) held its Black Hat

Golf Challenge throughout September

and October. As part of the challenge,

participants played a round of golf and

raised funds in support of Variety. All

were sent a black top hat to wear as they

played (pictured top right) and were asked

to document their outing on social media

using #blackhatgolfchallenge.

On October 10, Variety – the Children’s

Charity of the Delaware Valley (Pa.) held

its annual Fall Fest (pictured above),

welcoming over 200 community members

for a safe, family-friendly celebration of

fall and Halloween open to children of

all abilities. Attendees enjoyed pumpkin

picking and decorating, sensory-friendly

trick-or-treating held in a haunted forest

filled with costumed characters, live

music, hayrides, raffles, and even a visit

from the Mummers!

Between November 29 and December

5, Variety – the Children’s Charity invited

supporters to raise money for children with

special needs by taking part in their firstever

Holiday Walk, Run, & Roll. Participants

in this inclusive event were invited to

complete a distance of their choosing

using a method of their choosing—whether

walking, running, biking, or something

else—either indoors or outdoors.

On November 18, Variety – the

Children’s Charity hosted Family Movie

Night at the Mary Pickford Theater in

Cathedral City, California. Attendees

enjoyed a fun, family-friendly, free night

at the drive-in, with safety protocols such

as masks and social distancing in place.

Each child was happy to receive a swag

bag full of goodies.

One hundred masked and socially

distanced golfers hit the course at the

Moorpark Country Club on September 17

to support Variety – the Children’s Charity

of Southern California’s Social Distancing

Golf Outing. Attendees got the chance to

reconnect with friends and colleagues—all

for a good cause. Variety – the Children’s

Charity thanks all who sponsored and

attended the event for their support.

Studio Movie Grill

Over the last several months, Dallasbased

Studio Movie Grill has continued

to be active in engaging with its local

community. The chain sponsored Dallas’s

2020 EarthX Gala, recognizing those

paving the way for a more sustainable,

environmentally conscious future.

Additional support has been given to a

variety of groups and causes, including:

the Jason’s Dream Foundation Toy

Drive in September; the Spectrum

Autism Support Group; the Georgia Run

for Autism; and Nurses and Medical

Professional Support Staff Appreciation

Day at Parkland Memorial Hospital in

Dallas. SMG donated auditoriums to JCC

of Dallas and Bryan’s House, a Dallasbased

charity that provides services to

at-need children and their families. They

also offered up one of their Houston

locations for an anniversary memorial

procession in honor of Harris County

deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal, killed in the

line of duty in 2019. In addition, SMG is

one of the theaters participating in Variety

of Texas’s Cinema Passport campaign,

18 Winter 2020

“Here at Film Row LEAD, our

goal is to ensure everyone

has a seat at the table ... If

that means building a bigger

table, then that’s exactly

what we are here to do. We

want everyone to have the

same opportunities.” —Shelly

Kratzer, Film Row LEAD

Know of a recent or upcoming event

that should be included in Charity

Spotlight? Send us the details at


which offers free movies at participating

theaters in exchange for a $500 donation

to the charity. Find more information at


Will Rogers’s Film Row LEAD Hosts

Panel on Diversity & Inclusion

The Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers

Foundation has launched Film Row LEAD

(Leadership, Education, Advancement,

and Diversity), a committee dedicated

to providing resources to encourage a

more diverse and inclusive environment

in the film industry. The committee is a

major milestone for Film Row, a group for

up-and-coming industry professionals

established by Will Rogers in the spring

of 2019.

September saw Film Row LEAD

host an online panel that addressed

fostering diversity and inclusion

in the entertainment industry. The

discussion was moderated by Heather

Morgan, vice president, content and

programming, for Harkins Theatres, and

featured panelists Wendy Armitage (SVP,

marketing clearances and ratings, Sony

Pictures), Kimberly Graham (director,

global diversity & inclusion, Nielsen),

Rolando Rodriguez (CEO & president,

Marcus Theatres), and Todd Vradenburg

(executive director, Will Rogers Motion

Picture Pioneers Foundation). More than

200 people registered for the inaugural

event, and the feedback was encouraging.

Film Row LEAD is composed

of a diverse group of motion

picture distribution and exhibition

professionals committed to empowering

underrepresented minorities in the

entertainment industry through

education and career development. The

objective of Film Row LEAD is to expand

the film community by offering workshops

and giving professionals more exposure

to studio executives, exhibition partners,

and vendors, thus having more potential

applicants with a diverse background who

can apply for positions throughout the

entertainment industry.

The committee is chaired by Shelly

Kratzer, a longtime member of the film

industry with nearly two decades of

theatrical film distribution experience.

Kratzer and her team devised a wellrounded

approach that seeks to merge

professional development, diversity, and

meaningful inclusion and community

outreach. LEAD plans to offer various

resources, including a speaker series,

university partnerships, an internship

program, a mentor program, and

volunteer activities. “Here at Film Row

LEAD, our goal is to ensure everyone has

a seat at the table,” Kratzer said. “If that

means building a bigger table, then that’s

exactly what we are here to do. We want

everyone to have the same opportunities.”

Since its launch last year, Film Row

has hosted several events, including

lunch and learns, social gatherings, and

volunteer service days—many of which

have benefited Will Rogers’s Pioneers

Assistance Fund (PAF). During these

challenging times, Film Row pivoted

from in-person activities to an online

trivia series, which helped raise

thousands of dollars for the PAF. “We are

honored to support industry members

in need through the Pioneers Assistance

Fund Covid-19 Emergency Grant

program,” said Melanie Valera, vice

president, theatrical sales, at Paramount

Pictures Studios and president of Film

Row. “To date, the program has spent

$2.7 million and provided more than

8,000 emergency grants. We are grateful

to supporters of Film Row and to all

the members of our industry who have

contributed to the Fund.”

Upcoming events

On December 3, 4, and 5, Variety – the

Children’s Charity of the Delaware Valley

(Pa.) will open its campus to visitors to

walk along a festively decorated Holiday

Lane. The exteriors of the campus’s rustic

cabins will be lit up with holiday lights

and decorated in holiday themes by the

talented members of the Norristown

Garden Club. Families will get a glimpse

of Santa’s workshop, Candy Land, a

gingerbread house, and more. For more

information and to purchase tickets, visit


Registration is open for Variety of the

Desert’s third Annual Golf Scramble, to be

held at Palm Valley Country Club in Palm

Desert, California, on January 18, 2021.

KESQ meteorologist Patrick Evans will

host the event, which welcomes special

guest Susie Maxwell Berning, a three-time

U.S. Women’s Open champion. Register at


Winter 2020





A Conversation About Diverse

Representation in Cinema—

On- and Off-Screen—with NATO

Chairman & Marcus Theatres

CEO Rolando Rodriguez


A veteran executive in theatrical

exhibition, Rolando Rodriguez held

leadership roles at AMC Theatres and Rave

Cinemas before a stint as an executive

at retail giant Walmart. Rodriguez

returned to the exhibition industry in

2016 as CEO and president of Marcus

Theatres, currently the fourth-largest

cinema circuit in the United States. He was

recently named chairman of the National

Association of Theatre Owners.

In this conversation with Boxoffice

Pro editorial director Daniel Loria,

Rodriguez spoke about the importance

of embracing diversity and inclusivity

initiatives in the cinema industry. After

Hispanic Heritage Month came and

went largely unnoticed in 2020, the two

engaged in a frank discussion on missed

opportunities and the future potential in

promoting Latin American leaders and


Rolando, the last time I saw you in

person was at the Geneva Convention

last year. You came up to me before a

panel we were doing and asked, “Do

you know what day it is?” I said, “It’s

Mexican Independence Day,” and

you said, “Well, yes, it is, but it’s also

Hispanic Heritage Month.”

It was an interesting exchange

because it shows that this month—a

chance to celebrate and unite all

Hispanic Americans—is overlooked

even within our own community. And

that’s really a missed opportunity, I

think, for a number of reasons. So, to

preface our conversation, let’s start

with a basic question as it relates

to the cinema business: What role

do Hispanic audiences play in our


“What’s exciting to

see is the dialogue

starting to take

place in our country

relating to diversity

and inclusion and

the impact that

it has, not only

economically, but

what it means for

our country.”

Hispanic and Latinos play an incredible

part in our industry, in particular when you

think about the fact that one in every four

customers to come through our doors [in

2019] happened to be of Hispanic heritage.

Hispanic Heritage Month—running

from September 15 to October 15—started

with the fact that seven countries basically

celebrated their Independence Day around

these dates, but it wasn’t necessarily

limited to those seven countries. It’s

about Latinos and Hispanics celebrating

the richness of our culture and the fact

that we’re an incredible economic labor

force and consumer base in this country.

20 Winter 2020

Hispanic Heritage Month should play

an integral part in our communities, our

country, and, frankly, in our industry.

What’s exciting to see is the dialogue

starting to take place in our country

relating to diversity and inclusion and the

impact that it has, not only economically,

but what it means for our country. We

represent almost 60 million people in the

United States. We are 18 percent of the

population and growing rapidly; there’s a

general feeling that we could be as much

as 30 percent of the population within

the next 10 years. That’s a significant

number of the workforce, leadership,

and consumerism of our future. In our

industry, we’ve been able to recognize

that already, knowing one out of four

customers that comes through our door

happens to be Hispanic or Latino. This

month is a great way for our country to

learn about the culture, the background,

and also the potential economic impact

that we represent today and will continue

to represent in the future.

In terms of frequent moviegoers—

those that go to the movies most often

throughout the year—Latin American

moviegoers are over-indexed in terms

of their share of the general population.

Right now, we represent around 18

percent of the general U.S. population,

and Latin American audiences represent

26 percent of frequent moviegoers. That’s

more than any other ethnic group, by

quite some distance.

When I think about diversity and

inclusion, there’s been an incredibly

positive movement that’s taking place

in our industry relating to women being

recognized, behind the camera and

in front of the camera. It’s also great

that we’re now starting to see much

more representation from the African

American and Black communities,

which is a tremendous and necessary

improvement. They are also a huge part

of the moviegoing population. But we still

lack improvements that are necessary to

see more Hispanic actors, directors, and

producers. We over-index because we play

a product that’s family-oriented, which

relates to the consumer base. As you relate

to consumers, I think it’s important that

we also see ourselves, that our kids are

able to see themselves on the screen. And

by the way, that also applies to leadership

positions within the film studios, and,

frankly, within exhibition itself.

“If you take a broader look

and say, how many Hispanics

sit on boards of directors

at public companies in the

United States, that number

gets really small. It’s less

than 2 percent.”

I think that was the beauty of a movie

like Black Panther. Kids could sit there

and say, “That hero looks like me.” It’s a

great way to not only create inspiration but

also drive aspiration in our communities

to chase leadership positions, acting

positions, political positions, board of

directors’ positions. These are areas that,

unfortunately, diverse communities

continue to lag in. The state of California is

taking some interesting steps to correct that,

but it shouldn’t be government driven. It

should be done because it’s the right thing

to do, to recognize the consumer base, and

recognize where consumer growth is going.

In exhibition, we’ve seen more

representation because of the growth

of Latin American circuits in the U.S.,

which has introduced Latin American

executives through that expansion.

We have Hispanic executives among

some of the leading vendors that

service the exhibition industry. At the

studio level, however, it is alarming

that we don’t have that same

presence. What is there left to do so

we can see more of that diversity in

other sectors of the industry—namely

in production and distribution—

that can hopefully influence more

programming for Latin American


I would start by saying that even in

exhibition, as you noted, we have been

very fortunate to have some very effective

leaders and companies that are owned by

Hispanics. But most of them started outside

the United States. Even within exhibition,

an industry that generated over $11 billion

in 2019 in the U.S., a country with nearly

60 million Hispanics, there’s more left to

do. I’m very fortunate and grateful that I

happen to be a Hispanic CEO, representing

the fourth-largest circuit in the United

States. But aside from that, if you take a

survey, even within the top 20 circuits, you

will not find many others.

If we represent one in every four

people that walk through the door in this

industry, then it goes beyond just looking

at the CEO level. How many Hispanic

CMOs, COOs, or CIOs are there? It’s about

leadership. If you take a broader look and

say, how many Hispanics sit on boards

of directors at public companies in the

United States, that number gets really

small. It’s less than 2 percent.

Winter 2020



There is still a lot of work to be done,

not only in exhibition, but clearly with our

partners in the film companies. I think

they’re starting to make changes, there’s

clearly an awakening through the social

dialogue that’s happening, but I think it

needs to be a balanced approach. I think

that they are making good progress in

female leadership, which is fantastic, I

think that they’re starting to really move

significantly in improving the numbers of

African Americans and Black Americans

represented in their senior leadership

ranks. But there’s no question that there’s

a tremendous gap associated with our film

and distribution partners that relates to

Hispanics and Latinos.

At NATO, we started the Diversity

and Inclusion Committee. There’s a

lot of group work that’s been done that

represents all diversities, not just one

group. We need our friends and partners in

the distribution and film companies to ask

themselves, “Are we properly representing

our consumer base in our leadership

positions and on our board of directors


We need to push the importance of

that narrative, so young Hispanic kids can

“We need our friends and

partners in the distribution

and film companies to ask

themselves, ‘Are we properly

representing our consumer

base in our leadership

positions and on our board of

directors positions?’”

look up at the screen and say, “That could

be me someday.” Obviously, it’s not about

becoming a superhero, but the idea behind

it is that you can strive to better the lives of

those in your community. Because as you

do better, you’re in a better position to help

influence your community.

It’s also important to emphasize that

this Latin American and Hispanic

population isn’t limited to a few cities

or key markets in the U.S. I think the

national conversation sometimes

ends up being misrepresented as a

regional conversation. In previous

stages of your career, at AMC

Theatres and Walmart, you were able

to see how the Hispanic population

spread nationally from a regional

concentration. When you came back

into the exhibition industry at Marcus

Theatres in 2013, headquartered in

Milwaukee, not a market directly

associated with a Hispanic or Latin

American population, did you see

that expansion firsthand?

In earlier days, if asked to name places

where a concentration of Hispanics existed,

22 Winter 2020

you would have said Miami; Chicago;

Texas, in particular Houston, parts of

Dallas and San Antonio; and obviously

California. Maybe some of Colorado and

Arizona. That was the case 20 years ago.

Now you talk about Hispanic populations

in Kansas City, St. Louis, and Minnesota.

There is more representation in Colorado

and Nebraska.

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, when I first

joined the company over seven years

ago, it was a movement that was starting

to happen. I’m also the chairman of the

Hispanic Collaborative in Milwaukee, and

we do a lot of research on this. Over the

past decade. the reason the entire state of

Wisconsin has shown a population growth

is thanks to Hispanics. If not for Hispanics,

there would have been a declining

population in the entire state. It is the most

rapidly growing population base in the

state of Wisconsin, in Milwaukee, and in

the southern portions of Wisconsin.

The importance of that, from a business

perspective, is about consumerism and

the workforce. It’s also represented in

the age group—Hispanics and Latinos

happen to represent the youngest average

age in America. We happen to represent

the highest percentage of millennials, the

highest percentage of Gen Zers.

This is not to discount all the other

diverse populations, by any means. Asian

communities are growing, so are African

Americans and Black communities.

Hispanics just happen to be growing at

the fastest rate and are the largest ethnic

minority in the entire United States.

Minorities and underrepresented

groups in the United States aren’t

monolithic audience blocks that only

go to movies that represent them.

Hispanic audiences buying one in

every four tickets sold at U.S. cinemas

last year confirms that. When we start

talking about bringing audiences

back to the cinema during this very

difficult recovery effort, how should

we approach our outreach to Hispanic


When you think about marketing to

Hispanics, the fact that we ended Hispanic

Heritage Month—and I know that there

are a lot of other topics currently going on

in the world—but how much discussion

did you see, on any level in the media,

of Hispanic Heritage Month? Very

little to none. We missed a tremendous

opportunity, at a time when we’re talking

a lot about diversity and inclusion; we still

managed to miss this particular gap.

I’m Cuban American, born in Cuba,

and grew up watching movies from across

the world. The movies I couldn’t watch

were actually from the United States—

they were blacked out. I grew up watching

Chinese, Japanese, Canadian, German,

Spanish films, films from Mexico, from

South America. For me, the beauty of our

industry and what we represent is that we

provide an education and other views of

cultures that you wouldn’t otherwise get

without traveling.

We have an incredible richness as

an industry. How do we relate that to a

consumer base that appreciates it? When I

think about my own background, growing

up in Cuba, I love the movies because my

parents and I went every Sunday. Every

Sunday, that was our outing. No matter

what, we went to the movies as a family

on Sundays.

We have an incredible audience base

that is very loyal to our product. It’s an

audience base that really relates to brand

loyalty and brands that actually represent

them well and recognize them. When you

recognize Hispanics within your product,

it helps make sure that they stay loyal to

you and keep coming back.

Part of that is reinforcing moviegoing

habits that already exist. In Latin

America, it’s customary to have a

discount day in the middle of the week.

When you came back to exhibition

with Marcus Theatres in 2013, just as

the country was recovering from a

recession, the circuit introduced a

discount day, $5 Tuesdays. Did you

see a different sort of engagement

after putting practices in place that

Hispanic audiences might have

already been familiar with?

We introduced that concept just slightly

over seven years ago as a $5 Tuesday,

with free popcorn. We wanted our studio

partners to recognize that we were putting

skin in the game as well. Seven years

ago, there were still economic challenges

… it was very well accepted, almost


The thing that most impacted me, both

personally and professionally, was figuring

out very quickly that we found an audience

we had lost. Many of those audiences are

diverse, from underserved communities

with limited income to take their families

out for any form of entertainment. All of a

sudden, I’m getting letters and calls from

moms saying, “Thank you, I’m now able to

take my family to the movies, and thank

you for the popcorn.” It felt like the right

thing to do: reintroducing ourselves to

communities that were now able to take

their families out for a fun evening, while

at the same time creating a very exciting

day that does a lot of business.

Especially right now, as we’re facing

a very difficult part of the reopening

phase, an initial reopening cycle with a

lot of changes, a lot of things outside our

control. At the heart of this challenge is

reconnecting with a lost audience. Once

you engage with these conversations

around diversity, around inclusivity, you

can apply the lessons in a number of

different scenarios, including the current

Covid recovery.

As we talk about diversity and inclusion,

about Hispanic Heritage Month, and the

importance of diverse audiences, we need

to remember we also provide an escape

for people. What NATO has done through

CinemaSafe, what every one of our theater

chains has done, we’ve all spent a great

deal of time in our planning, upgrading

our systems and processes to make

sure that people understand the safety

procedures. Keeping in mind the health

and safety of not only our customers but

our associates. There isn’t a case that can

be traced to any theater at this point in

time. It’s important for us to get things

started again.

And there’s a bigger picture here:

There’s an underserved community out

there that is struggling economically

without an outlet for out-of-home

entertainment. Our communities, all of

our consumers out there, are looking for

a place to smile, have a healthy laugh, or

a healthy cry. We provide that. I think it’s

incumbent on government officials, on

our film and distribution partners, and

it’s incumbent on us in exhibition, to

ensure that we work together. We need

to make sure that this incredible art

form continues to serve all communities,

including diverse ones, so we can stay in

business and continue to cater to them.

We have a lot of work to do, and hopefully

we can get started tackling it in a short

period of time.

Winter 2020





Daniel Borschke Says Goodbye

to the National Association of



“When I took this position, I

remember telling someone: ‘They’re

actually paying me to do this. I get to go to

the movies and eat popcorn and candy. I

would do it on my own!’”

So began, in 2011, Daniel Borschke’s

journey as executive vice president of the

National Association of Concessionaires—a

journey that ends this month, as he caps off

a four-decade career in trade associations

with a well-deserved retirement.

Although an avid fan of moviegoing

since childhood—his family would go

to the movies once a week—Borschke

began his career in quite a different field.

Throughout high school and college, “I was

a mail clerk for the Milk Foundation, which

is a trade association for milk and cheese

producers nationwide,” he says. One

master’s degree in communications later,

and his bosses asked if he’d be interested in

applying for a job. “Here I am out of school,

without a job opportunity. I said, ‘Sure.’”

The position he ended up applying

for was CEO. At age 24, just out of college,

Borschke found himself at the head of

a $3 million operation, in charge of 24

employees. It’s a job he held for nearly

25 years, until the Milk Foundation was

merged with another group. (Incidentally,

Borschke is lactose intolerant, a fact he

would bring up in a later job interview

when asked how he could represent a

group without being part of it himself.)

From there came a short stint as

executive director of the American Lamb

Board, a role that had him working with

“salt of the earth” ranchers and making a

weekly commute from Chicago to Denver.

(“You know you’re getting into a routine

when the flight attendant knows you as

you get on and get off the plane every

week.”) It was the latter part of the job

that had Borschke looking elsewhere

after a year; the hunt landed him at the

National Association for Retail Marketing

Services, where he served as president

and CEO until 2011.

Then came a move back to Chicago

and his most recent role, heading the

NAC and its annual expo. (Replaced

this year, by necessity, with the “NAC

ReTreat Week,” which despite being

online still managed to host a wine

tasting.) The NAC, like Borschke’s career,

has undergone some major shifts over

the years. Founded in 1944, it initially

represented popcorn growers, eventually

expanding its purview to include popcorn

machinery manufacturers, movie theater

concessionaires, and—now—concessions

product and service providers across a

variety of businesses, including movie

theaters, sports arenas, and colleges

and universities.

A veteran of trade associations,

Borschke looks at heading the NAC with

special fondness—and not just because of

all the food he gets to eat. “[The member

companies of] all those other associations

always had proprietary information,”

he says. “They were competitors. They

never wanted to talk about their own

information, because they didn’t want

to share it with anyone.” Working in the

concessions industry, however, has been

“an absolute treat,” because the companies

involved “are willing to share. They’re

willing to help.” Borschke touts that spirit

of open communication as one of the

key draws of the NAC, allowing as it does

members from different fields—whether

cinemas, convention centers, or sports

venues—to seek out inspiration from each

other. NAC member companies “show

a warmth that just isn’t there in other

groups, by any stretch of the imagination.”

That spirit of comradery has proved

essential in 2020. Through much of the

year, the NAC has hosted weekly calls,

allowing its members to share ideas, news,

and—hey, it’s 2020—concerns about

the future of their respective industries.

“Especially now,” says Borschke, “it’s

comforting to know that everyone is out to

help each other under the circumstances.

I had to wait all these years, but I finally

found an association that’s heartwarming

and works together.”

High levels of “involvement and

engagement” from NAC members has

been fundamental to the cross-pollination

of ideas that’s thrived during Borschke’s

tenure. “The committees were always

very, very engaged in the activities of the

organization,” he says. Unfortunately,

that level of participation has gone down,

Borschke explains, as individual members

have had more work piled on them and

thus have less time for active participation

in the NAC. “Some of the theater people

are now representing prisons and

vending,” too, says Borschke. It’s a change

that was in the air already but has been

accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic and

the industry-wide belt-tightening it led to.

This could, Borschke fears, have a longterm

impact on the NAC.

24 Winter 2020

“From a management standpoint, it’s

in many ways much more efficient to

be able to get things done without a

committee,” he says. But, in losing insight

from concessionaires who no longer have

time for active involvement in the NAC

like their predecessors did, “You lose the

flavor. You lose the influence.” And you

lose the boots-on-the-ground knowledge

of the concessions industry that NAC

members possess. “Frankly, we aren’t

the professional concessionaires,” says

Borschke of NAC management. “These

people are, from a sales as well as an

operational standpoint. They know what

is selling. They know what is hot in the

theater industry. We’re going to lose that,

because they just don’t have the time for

input. That’s the major change I’ve seen

over the [last] nine years.”

Borschke had planned to retire from

the NAC after this year’s trade show,

the group’s 76th, which now has not

happened. In making a clean break, he

leaves the NAC at a time of unprecedented

upheaval for the theater industry—but

not one without opportunities. Increasing

automation, from high-tech machines in

theater kitchens to Coca-Cola Freestyle

machines, has already made concessions

much less “hands-on, more digital, more

remote”—which in the current Covid

landscape is a positive thing, though it

leads to longer-term questions about the

role of flesh-and-blood employees.

“It’s comforting to know

that everyone is out to

help each other under the

circumstances. I had to

wait all these years, but I

finally found an association

that’s heartwarming and

works together.”


In celebration of Daniel Borschke’s tenure as the NAC’s executive

vice president, we’ve asked colleagues in the industry to share some

words of thanks and appreciation.

“Dan’s leadership has been

invaluable to the NAC over the

past 10 years. He has worked with

the NAC executive committee to

effectively guide and grow the

organization and has helped

us to emphasize and improve

upon the National Association

of Concessionaires’ educational

programs. Dan has helped us to

improve upon our government

relations endeavors as well. Dan’s

work on these initiatives and others

has made NAC a better, stronger

organization, bringing more value

to NAC’s membership. While we will

miss Dan, we wish him the best in


Adam Gottlieb

President, NAC

President, The Adalar Group

“Dan Borschke came to NAC 10

years ago a bit ‘cheesy,’ but we

have found him to be the salt of

the earth. Dan’s leadership and

guidance have been appreciated

by countless individuals. He leaves

his NAC office with a legacy of

brilliance and talent all allocated

superbly among his board of

directors, associates, and the


Larry Etter

Director of Education, NAC

Former President, NAC

Senior Vice President, Malco


“Dan’s immediate grasp of the

concessions industry and our

association was fantastic. We

were so appreciative of his past

association experience. He

has served our NAC members

and supported our volunteer

leadership with professionalism

and an eye toward growth and

collaboration. The support team

he has developed is leaving a

great legacy and solid future. Dan

and his family truly became a part

of the NAC family over their years

of involvement. Many thanks Dan,

and may you and Julie enjoy the

next great chapter.”

Ron Krueger

Former President, NAC

President, COO, VSS-Southern

Theatres, LLC

“Dan, it has been a pleasure

working together, whether it be

as president of NAC or from an

industry supplier perspective. I

truly want to thank you for the

passion, commitment, enthusiasm,

and creativity—especially during

these past eight trying months—

which you exhibit day in and day

out to keep the out-of-home food

and beverage industry together,

engaged, and informed. We will

all miss your spirited approach to

managing this association and wish

you and your family all the best in

this next chapter of your life!”

Jeff Scudillo

Former President, NAC

Vice President, Sales, Promotion

in Motion

“Dan, congratulations on your

NAC and 48 years of association

management retirement! Though

there are many accomplishments

leading NAC over the past 10

years, your government relations

leadership is a bright spot.

Identifying the most critical topics

and informing members through

Expo seminars and updates has

resulted in a more proactive NAC

on strategic topics. Moreover,

you helped to create a unique

and critical forum for various

trade associations to share their

POVs on issues important to

NAC membership. Thank you for

continuing to remain involved in

this important work. Enjoy your

new professional direction, and

we all look forward to seeing

Julie and you in person at a trade

event soon.”

Don Lear

Director, Foodservice, Oberto

Specialty Meats

Winter 2020



Looking at the exhibition industry

as a whole, Borschke sees potential in

thinking of theaters not just as theaters

but as more general-use event spaces, thus

making the industry less subject to the

“whims and impatience of studios.” He

points to Malco Theatres, which has made

an arrangement with the University of

Memphis to host classes, during which the

concession stand will be open for business,

selling snacks and beverages (including

all-important coffee) to college students.

It’s practices like those—and like private

theater rentals, which have been adopted

by cinemas worldwide since the Covid-19

shutdown—that Borschke looks to for

the future of the concessions industry.

Concessions providers are increasingly

“looking at other places” beyond theaters

to sell their products—and theaters

need to be there to meet them, acting as

classrooms, churches, restaurants, and

bars in addition to screening venues.

In leaving the NAC, Borschke looks

ahead to the future—but he also looks to

“Even though I’d been in

the association business for

40 years, [leading the NAC]

really was a great way to

finish off my career.”

the past, when veterans gave a newcomer

to the concessions industry a warm

welcome. Ron Krueger of Southern

Theatres, for example, “was one of the

first people who interviewed me for

this job,” says Borschke. “Ron obviously

comes from a family business in this

industry. Those are the kinds of people

that I’m going to miss the most.” Though

he won’t be attending trade shows or

involving himself in NAC business

post-retirement, “because it wouldn’t

be fair for the other people who are still

working with the NAC,” he won’t stop

going to the movies—or eating his fair

share of concessions while he’s there.

“Even though I’d been in the association

business for 40 years,” leading the NAC

“really was a great way to finish off my

career. I hate to think that I’m leaving the

association industry during a pandemic,

but I think if I have to leave, this is

probably the best way to do it.”

26 Winter 2020

Contact Us

Winter 2020





82020 marks the 100th anniversary of



The 1980s: Megabucks,

MTV, and Megaplexes


the founding of Boxoffice Pro. Though

the publication you hold in your hands

has had different owners, headquarters,

and even names—it was founded in

Kansas City by 18-year-old Ben Shlyen

as The Reel Journal, then called Boxoffice

in 1933, and more recently Boxoffice

Pro—it has always remained committed

to theatrical exhibition.

From the 1920s to the 2020s, Boxoffice

Pro has always had one goal: to provide

knowledge and insight to those who bring

movies to the public. Radio, TV, home

video, and streaming have all been perceived

as threats to the theatrical exhibition

industry over the years, but movie

theaters are still here—and so are we.

We at Boxoffice Pro are devotees

of the exhibition industry, so we couldn’t

resist the excuse of a centennial to

explore our archives. What we found was

not just the story of a magazine, but the

story of an industry—the debates, the

innovations, the concerns, and above

all the beloved movies. We’ll share

our findings in our year-long series,

A Century in Exhibition.

28 Winter 2020

The experimental revolution

that swept the 1960s and 1970s

was all but dead and buried in the ’80s.

Summarizing the new decade, Peter

Biskind, author of Down and Dirty

Pictures, writes, “When the Ronald Reagan

tsunami swept everything before it, the

market replaced Mao, The Wall Street

Journal trumped The Little Red Book, and

supply-side economics supplanted the

power of the people.” The corporatization

of Reagan’s America, as well as its return

to conservatism, left Hollywood with little

interest in small, realistic, auteur-driven

films. Instead, it went all-in on megabuck

movies produced by mega-corporations to

be shown in megaplexes.

The Return of the Studios

Riding the blockbuster wave started

by Jaws and Star Wars in the previous

decade, Hollywood in the 1980s turned all

its efforts to the production of expensive

sci-fi, action, and horror blockbusters

like Raiders of the Lost Ark and E.T. What

Jaws had taught the industry was not only

the power of pricey special effects but

also that of huge marketing campaigns.

Skyrocketing marketing budgets

significantly inflated the price of films

in the 1980s. The MPAA’s president, Jack

Valenti, revealed in November 1980 that

in that year the average film made by the

major studios that made up the MPAA

cost $10 million before advertising and

prints, double the 1975 figure. Prints and

advertising added another whopping $6

million. According to Valenti, box office

grosses needed to reach about $40 million

for the studio to simply break even.

To guarantee maximum returns,

Hollywood’s high-concept blockbusters

became more and more homogenized.

Unlike their embrace of little-known actors

or even nonactors in the’60s and ’70s, the

studios increasingly relied on a small

number of very popular actors with a star

factor strong enough to make people show

up at the box office. Boxoffice Pro even

began publishing “box office attraction”

lists, ranking the most popular stars and

the most promising new actors based on

monthly surveys. Studios also invested

heavily in sequels to minimize risks.

Associate editor Jimmy Summers wrote

somewhat ironically about the trend in the

summer of 1983, when films like Return

of the Jedi, Rocky III, Superman III, and

Psycho II hit the screens. The “summer of

sequels appears to be the season in which

the actors do exactly what their public

wants them to do,” he wrote.

Higher production and marketing

costs proved a problem for exhibitors,

which were forced to raise their ticket

prices sometimes to as high as $6 or $7,

doubling 1970s prices. Between 1979 and

1980, when the average ticket price was

Winter 2020



$2.69, the MPAA reported a 6.9 percent

increase in the average ticket price.

Exhibitors found themselves squeezed

between higher print costs, larger

margins for studios, and the fear of losing

their patrons. Boxoffice Pro editor

Alexander Auerbach, who took over from

magazine founder Ben Shlyen as editor

in 1979, urged the industry to control

its costs and pointed out the studios’

hypocrisy in an editorial published in

June 1982. “If the major studios cannot

turn out a steady flow of films for less

than $10 million each, how do they

propose to make them for cable-only

distribution for $3 million or less?” he


Big Business Entertainment

The financial changes of the 1980s made

it harder and harder for small studios and

exhibitors to survive. Instead, vertically

integrated media conglomerates, well

equipped to finance and distribute these

movies, ushered in the era of big-business

entertainment. Acquisitions of studios

by nonmedia conglomerates had started

in the 1960s, but the 1980s was a time of

unprecedented media cross-ownership,

vertical integration, and the increasing

importance of financial instruments

like equity, shareholder value, and

other financial assets during a period of

unprecedented deregulation.

In 1982, Coca-Cola, a longtime

partner of theaters, entered the industry

aggressively when it bought Columbia

Pictures for a reported $750 million. It

marked the first takeover of a major

Hollywood studio by a conglomerate

since Kinney National Services acquired

Warner Bros.-Seven Arts, Gulf & Western

bought Paramount, and Transamerica

took control of UA in the late 1960s. In

1983, Columbia, HBO, and CBS joined

forces to create Tri-Star (later TriStar), a

new studio that would produce films for

theatrical exhibition and cable TV. A year

later, Tri-Star bought the Loews theater

chain, raising antitrust concerns in regard

to a potential violation of the Paramount

Decrees. In 1987, Japanese electronics

giant Sony moved into theatrical

distribution to enhance its video sales with

the creation of AIP Distribution. Two years

later, in September 1989, Sony Corporation

of America purchased Columbia Pictures

and Tri-Star from Coca-Cola and renamed

itself Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Sony’s acquisitions opened the way for

foreign ownership of studios, amplifying

American anxieties about a “foreign

invasion.” The Qintex Group of Australia

had bought MGM/UA earlier in 1989,

topping the bid of Australian publisher

Rupert Murdoch, who had acquired 50

percent of 20th Century Fox in 1985. But

what the Sony acquisition ultimately

Acquisitions of studios by

nonmedia conglomerates

had started in the 1960s,

but the 1980s was a time

of unprecedented media

cross-ownership, vertical

integration, and the

increasing importance of

financial instruments ...

30 Winter 2020

showed was the advantages it gave to

Sony, which was now the sole company

controlling its films’ content, distribution

channels, and the hardware with which

people could watch movies at home (VCR,

laser disks, etc.).

Exhibition did not escape the M&A

trend, despite the Paramount Decrees.

Sony held the historic chain Loews, which

was briefly renamed Sony Cinemas before

switching back to its original name. Warner

Communications and Gulf & Western

formed Cineamerica Theaters, a corporate

entity that took over Gulf & Western’s

Mann Theaters, Festival Enterprises, and

Trans-Lux circuits. Finally, MCA, the

parent company of Universal, purchased a

49 percent stake in Cineplex Odeon in 1986.

While most acquisitions were not the

subject of commentary by the editorial

team, Boxoffice Pro’s new editor, Harley

W. Lond (who took over in 1984 and

implemented a significant overhaul that

put more editorial emphasis on “vital

analysis and interpretation” rather than

straight news), deplored the trend. In

an August 1989 editorial, he wrote, “The

conglomeration fever in our industry

has now moved from the acquisition of

exhibition outlets to the acquisition of

production outlets, and this does not augur

well for us. Just recently, George Lucas

bemoaned the rash corporate takeover

by stating that such actions ‘damage the

creative energies of the entertainment

industry’ by creating companies with

enormous debts, thus tying up resources

that should be made available instead for

risk-taking on new films, filmmakers, and

new ideas.”

The survival of smaller and

independent theaters who struggled to

stay afloat was at stake. Boxoffice Pro

dedicated a lot of space to independent

distribution and exhibitors, publishing

regular strategy columns and profiles of

distributors and cinemas. A few indies

managed to thrive, most notably New

Line Cinema with the hit A Nightmare

on Elm Street and Miramax with Sex, Lies,

and Videotape, as well as exhibitors like

Carmike Cinemas, Pacific Theaters, and

the Laemmle chain. But as Dan Harkins,

president of Arizona’s Harkins Theaters,

put it in December 1987, independents

were still “facing extinction” because

of conglomerate buy ups. Independent

exhibitors were at the forefront of the

fight against integration, often pushing

for resolutions through NATO. In

fact, Boxoffice Pro reported that in

August 1987, Dan Harkins, as well as

other exhibitors from Texas and Indiana,

appeared in front of New York’s District

Court to prevent Tri-Star from having

the right to book its films into its Loews

cinemas. Despite their efforts, the court

granted Tri-Star its request.

Home Entertainment, VCR Wars,

and MTV

Vertical concentration was not the only

challenge facing the exhibition industry

in the 1980s. Editor Alexander Auerbach

had summed up the threat of home

entertainment in a March 1981 editorial.

“Exhibition and the studios, which once

feared the advent of television, now

ponder on the impact of cable TV,

pay-TV, the videodisc, and videotape,

direct broadcast from satellite to home

and other technological advances. All

of this new gadgetry can be regarded as

either an opportunity or a threat, but

in either case, it cannot be ignored,” he

argued. As had happened since the advent

of TV in the ’50s, theaters were competing

for the scarce time, attention, and cash

of a moviegoing audience that now had

a seemingly never-ending bounty of

home alternatives.

One significant threat in home

entertainment was the rapid quality

improvements in TV screens and surround

systems at home. Echoing the race to

large formats in the ’50s, as readers of

this column might remember, Tony

Francis, president of Theater Products

International and regular Boxoffice Pro

contributor, lamented in May 1981 that

“the picture only offers size.” He feared

that although the quality of TV pictures

was inferior to film, it would soon surpass

Winter 2020



it. Francis urged exhibitors to get ready

for the competition and reminded readers

that only 15 percent of American theaters

offered stereophonic sound in 1981, while

consumers were getting more and more

accustomed to it—and therefore expecting

it—at home via their radios, tape players,

and headphones. In September of that

year, Ioan Allen, Dolby’s vice president

of marketing, warned in Boxoffice Pro

that as much as 90 percent of theaters

were subpar in sound and/or projection

compared to home equipment. Innovations

in HDTV technologies made the threat

even more imminent. It is interesting to

note that Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope

Studios was actually involved in HDTV

demos, as he believed that the next logical

step would be to distribute films made on

tape via satellite to theaters.

The videotape craze was an additional

challenge to exhibitors, especially

after the mid-1980s. Introduced in the

American market in the ’70s, Sony’s

Betamax and JVC’s VHS were fiercely

competing to dominate the videocassette

and videocassette-recorder industry.

Boxoffice Pro published a study by

the Electronic Industries Association’s

Consumer Electronics Group in 1985

showing that sales of VCRs had jumped

over 72 percent year-over-year. The jump

was preceded by the Supreme Court’s Sony

Betamax Decision in March 1984, which

ruled that home-videotaping practices

were not in violation of copyright laws.

In an unprecedented move, BOXOFFICE

PRO extended its coverage to video

with its “Boxoffice Video Supplement,”

starting in 1985, in an effort to inform

exhibitors of the trends and potential

uses of this new format. Soon, cassette

and VCR sales outpaced domestic box

office grosses. According to a report in

the Video Supplement in 1987, income

from videocassette sales rose 30 percent

compared to 1986 and, at $7.46 billion,

nearly doubled the $4.2 billion total box

office take for that same year.

On top of home-entertainment quality

improvements and the VCR menace, the

’80s saw the explosion of cable TV. It was

no coincidence that all major media and

exhibitor conglomerates rushed to acquire

premium channels. For instance, in 1983

MCA, Paramount, and Warner agreed

to become partners to buy the Movie

Channel, a satellite-delivered motion

picture pay-TV service with over 2 million

subscribers at that time. Four years later,

the late Sumner Redstone, owner of

National Amusements—which operated

400 movie centers—bought a controlling

interest in Viacom, which owned MTV

and Showtime. For exhibitors, the danger

was not just a relentless competition for

audiences. As Perry Lowe, chairman of

the board of the National Association of

Concessionaires, explained in a 1981 piece,

because of inflation and the different cost

structures of the industry, “theater owners

would have to raise prices faster than cable

operators, and the result will be a further

widening gap between the value of seeing

a movie at home on cable TV versus going

out to a movie theater.”

Overall, however, the response of

exhibitors toward these new threats was

not quite as anxiety ridden as it had been

in previous decades. Exhibition had

survived despite countless doom-andgloom

predictions in the past. This time

around, many Boxoffice Pro writers

and contributors were quick to point out

how ancillary markets could incentivize

filmmaking and present new opportunities

for returns. Jack Valenti noted in 1982 that

while some 40 percent of television homes

were equipped with cable, 18 million

subscribed to pay TV or cable movie

channels, and 4 million video recorders

were in the nation’s living rooms, the

year had still recorded an all-time-high

box office record. The reason behind this,

he argued, was simple: People who love

movies love them in every medium.

Industry experts reassured exhibitors

by stressing the opportunity for an

aggressive promotion provided by pay

TV and cable. One such example was

“Movieweek,” a half-hour program on

MSN Information Channel that used an

32 Winter 2020

“Home video is actually a

blessing to exhibitors, because

it’s tapped into the people

who are not contributing to

Hollywood film production.”

—Dan Harkins, 1985

MTV-like model to put movie marketing

(including trailers and interviews)

into thousands of homes. Video was

also presented as a medium to attract

audiences who did not go to the movies

at all. “Home video is actually a blessing

to exhibitors, because it’s tapped into

the people who are not contributing to

Hollywood film production,” explained

Dan Harkins in October 1985. A

businessman in the videocassette field

went even further in a 1981 article:

“[Exhibitors] possess a knowledge that no

other group of businessmen have in this

country. They know motion pictures and

how to sell them. It follows that they are

the best-prepared group to become video

cassette and disc retailers.” Auerbach

agreed in a 1984 editorial, stating that “the

rental business is a bit different from the

usual snack bar activity, but hardly an

overwhelming challenge to the theater

employee.” Indeed, a few small theaters

presented in the magazine, like Fred

Kaysbier’s theater in Ogallala, Nebraska,

or the Village Theater in Knoxville, Iowa,

turned to video sales.

The Window Issue

What also concerned exhibitors was the

matter of theatrical exclusivity windows.

Talks about windows went back to the

birth of TV, but the ’80s was the decade

that saw the issue become much more

prevalent in the magazine’s coverage. The

editorial line was clear. “Exhibition must

battle to preserve its place as the first-run

outlet for product from Hollywood,” wrote

Auerbach in November 1980, following

an unofficial NATO convention in New

Orleans dedicated to the topic. Auerbach

was especially concerned by the evershrinking

window between theatrical

releases and cassette releases, noting that

some videocassettes were released while

films were still in theaters. That was not

only true for smaller films but for bigger

box office successes like Purple Rain,

which became available on tape only six

months after its initial theatrical release.

“What became of the unwritten rule

of a one-year window (now ostensibly

six months but, in reality, four-orless

months) on film to videotape

transfers?” asked editor Harley W.

Lond in December 1984. He noted that

distributors, benefiting from word of

mouth from theatrical releases, were

eager to shorten the windows further.

Subsequent-run theaters were hit the

hardest. Auerbach wrote, in May 1984,

that “a reasonable ‘window’ between

theatrical and cassette release would at

least help the first-run houses, although

sub-run theaters would still have a

tougher row to hoe.” The observation was

echoed by George Kerasotes, president of

Kerasotes Theaters, who in 1981 declared,

Winter 2020



“I don’t think there’ll be subsequent-run

theaters—neighborhood houses that run

pictures for a long time—because that

market is rapidly being absorbed by cable

TV people, cassettes, disks, whatever is

coming out.”

Movie Palaces and Megaplexes

In the aforementioned editorial, Harley

W. Lond urged exhibitors to unite and

put pressure on their suppliers while

also increasing their investments

in state-of-the-art technology to

provide “a form of entertainment that

can’t be matched anywhere else.” He

underlined a widespread criticism of

the exhibition industry. Despite all the

novel technological threats to be found

in the home video market, the biggest

threat for some exhibitors was exhibitors

themselves. “Badly maintained theaters

with poor acoustics, dim screens, scruffy

decor, and butchered prints will do more

to keep potential ticket buyers away than

any of the electronic marvels now on the

market,” reported Boxoffice Pro after a

1981 NATO convention in Las Vegas. The

shopping center multiplex model was

already starting to feel lackluster and

antiquated. “The multiplex has become

the Japanese car of the movie theaters—

compact, efficient, and often lacking in

individual style,” wrote Tom Matthews,

managing editor, in 1989.

The movies needed to bring their magic

back. Jack Valenti put it simply in 1986:

“Theater box office and the magic of the

movies in the marketplace are irretrievably

linked together. One goes down as the

other diminishes. One goes up as the

other shines.” A new type of theater was

to bring back the magic: the megaplex.

Giant modern theater complexes began

overtaking smaller multiplexes after the

mid-’80s, with Kinepolis Brussels opening

the world’s first megaplex with 25 screens

in Belgium in 1988.

The path toward the megaplex era

is well documented in Boxoffice Pro.

That history cannot be told without the

Canadian Cineplex Odeon Group and its

president and founder, Garth Drabinsky.

Drabinsky and Nathan A. Taylor founded

Cineplex Odeon in 1979. By the end of

the decade, according to the magazine’s

new Giants of Exhibition list, it had

become North America’s fourth-largest

circuit, with more than 1,500 screens in

the U.S. and Canada. Megaplexes were

often located in malls—epitomized by

the 1,000-seat Cineplex Beverly Center in

Los Angeles—but a new trend of standalone

buildings with multiple amenities

was becoming more and more prevalent.

For example, Cineplex Odeon’s flagship

location in Universal City, located next

to Universal Studios and its theme

park, was built in 1987 with 18 screens

“Badly maintained theaters

with poor acoustics, dim

screens, scruffy decor, and

butchered prints will do

more to keep potential ticket

buyers away than any of the

electronic marvels now on

the market.”

34 Winter 2020

and 6,000 seats for $16.5 million. In a

speech at a NATO convention in 1988,

Drabinksy highlighted the rationale

behind the megaplex. He stressed “the

urgent necessity of formulating the

most felicitous motion picture viewing

ambiance that the present technology and

the most creative architectural designs

will permit.”

The megaplexes were meant to offer a

luxurious experience to moviegoers. They

were often inspired by the movie palaces of

yore, and those classic theaters’ visionary

architects—like Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel,

Thomas Lamb, and the Rapps—were

often referenced in megaplex profiles.

“Lobbies and auditoriums are leaning more

towards palatial furnishings rather than

the shopping centers crackerbox floor

plans of yesteryear,” wrote Dan Harkins in

1987. This state of mind perhaps explains

why so many pages of Boxoffice Pro

in the ’80s were dedicated to profiles of

restored movie palaces. The megaplexes

were also designed to optimize the patron’s

viewing and comfort, which meant that

Dolby Stereo surround systems and the

Lucasfilm THX sound system were a must.

To help exhibitors navigate the countless

innovations and new terms, the magazine’s

Modern Theater section ramped up its

coverage on sound, at a rate comparable to

the 1920s when sound was first introduced.

The whole idea behind megaplexes

and the fight against home entertainment

was to make moviegoing an “experience.”

Concessions became an integral part of

that strategy, as many theaters expanded

their menus to offer more specialty

concessions, like beer and wine, larger

sizes (32-oz. sodas were dwarfed by 45 and

60-oz. cups), and combos. Merchandising

tie-ins started booming. The Star Wars

licensing and merchandising success

made exhibitors jump on the bandwagon,

and many started selling licensed T-shirts,

posters, records, videocassettes, toys, and

other paraphernalia at the concessions

stand. Exhibitors hoped to increase their

profits and translate the “buzz” of satisfied

moviegoers into impulse buys once the

movie was over. This was especially

the case with children’s movies. As one

exhibitor put it in 1988, “We’ve sold a lot

of Roger Rabbit pins at our theaters. But

we tried to merchandise Rambo and just

didn’t have any luck.” Inspired by the

fast-food industry, Coca-Cola, which had

bought Columbia Pictures in 1982, was a

pioneer in that strategy and put in place

multiple promotional tie-ins on reusable

cups and popcorn buckets. “The more hot

properties developed for the screen, the

better. All the promotion and all the hype

on only one hot picture a year will cause

the theater industry to go painfully soft,”

explained Herbert Arnold, V.P. of Coca-

Cola USA in a 1980 interview.

Winter 2020



Pioneering the Computer Age

In 1989, Coca-Cola introduced its selfserve,

walk-through concession stand,

which was manufactured by Cretors, the

inventor of the popcorn machine. Coca-

Cola was bringing to concessions one of

the most important developments in the

exhibition industry: automation. While

articles on automation had occasionally

been featured in Boxoffice Pro

since the 1950s, modern automation

as we know it today took off in the

’80s. “There’s nothing romantic about

a ticket machine. [...] But automation

has hit the box office, and theaters

that don’t modernize their operations

will suffer,” warned Auerbach in June

1981. To help exhibitors understand

the new technological tools at their

disposal, a “Computers” special section

was introduced in the Modern Theater

section in the 1980s, discussing benefits,

usage, costs, and products associated

with computers.

Automated ticketing systems, such as

Omniterm, Dataticket, and Movie/Master,

were often advertised and explained in

the magazine. The ability to print tickets

faster and provide all the information

necessary to the moviegoer on the ticket

while also keeping track of sales was a

tremendous innovation for exhibitors.

These systems also allowed customers to

reserve tickets earlier by phone and to pay

with major credit cards. More and more

software products, such as Theatron All in

One, became integrated with concession

sales, programming, bookkeeping, and

even booth and auditorium management.

The ’80s also saw the development

of online databases meant to manage

releases and marketing material. Two

of the database services profiled in

Boxoffice Pro were Baseline, which

gave access to weekend box office reports

and information on upcoming movies,

and Cinemascore, which provided

demographic data on opening-night

audiences. In December 1988, the

magazine decided to extend its services

to the digital space with Boxoffice OnLine,

a computer service meant to provide

exhibitors with vital information—like

teasers, trailers, and changing release

dates—more quickly than it could be

delivered in print.

Computers also became an integral

part of an effort to systematically use data

to understand consumer behavior and

tastes. One contributor summed up the

need for more research on the moviegoer’s

motivations to watch a movie within such a

fragmented media landscape. “Today’s film

patrons don’t go to the movies, they go to a

movie,” he wrote, arguing that predictions

and data were more necessary than ever.

Software like Entertainment Data and

Market Relay Systems was developed to

predict which films would be hits, thus

helping exhibitors guide scheduling. To

quote Tom Matthews, managing editor

in September 1989, with more money at

stake than ever before for both studios and

exhibitors, “the motion picture industry

[had] become a numbers game.”

By the end of the decade, the industry

was optimistic. At the NATO/ShoWest

1989 Convention, NATO president William

Kartozian cited a 20-year upward trend in

both screens and revenues—the former

increasing from 13,000 to 24,000 venues,

an 80 percent increase, and the latter

rising from $1.2 billion in annual grosses to

$4.4 billion, a 27 percent increase. In this

context, the trends adopted in the ’80s—

from IP-based event films to moviegoing

as an experience, vertical integration, and

automation—were to become the bedrock

of the industry for subsequent decades.

36 Winter 2020



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“I think about the filmmaker who had a vision and a passion and

brought a story to life that was meant to be on a big screen.”

Holding Down the Fort, p. 40

Winter 2020






Shelli Taylor Joins Alamo

Drafthouse as New CEO


“That’s important

to us, to expand our

footprint. If we’re

going to [support]

filmmakers and

studios and maximize

the life of a film, that

footprint matters. We

want as many people

to have access to the

movies as possible.”

The world was a very different place

when Shelli Taylor began the series

of conversations with Alamo Drafthouse

that would land her in the exhibition

industry, even if it was just 10 months ago,

in late December 2019.

Only one month later, cinemas in

China would close due to the Covid-19

pandemic. In February, northern Italy

followed. Within weeks, the bulk of the

world’s theaters—including those in the

United States—had stopped in-person

operations. And on April 30, 2020, Shelli

Taylor was announced as the new CEO of

cinema chain Alamo Drafthouse.

“The goal of the role was very

different” when she first signed on, says

Taylor, with classic understatement.

Covid-19 crystallized her number one

responsibility—nothing less than keeping

her company afloat through a frightening

pandemic and confronting its ripple

effects on the exhibition industry: closures,

wobbly theatrical exclusivity windows,

and a film slate that can’t seem to stay put.

When Covid hit the U.S., “I decided to

leap anyway,” says Taylor—inspired by

the community spirit, customer service,

and “incredible presentation” that first

drew her in as an Alamo fan when she

moved to Austin, Texas, and began taking

her then-13-year-old son to the movies

there. Conversations with Alamo cofounder

and now-former CEO Tim League

(still involved with Alamo and its sister

companies, Mondo and Fantastic Fest,

as executive chairman) took her from an

appreciative fan to a full-on enthusiast,

someone who “fell in love with this

entrepreneurial, scrappy, just really cool

team that’s following their passions and

created an incredible business out of it. I

was just like, ‘How can I pass that up?’”

In looking for a new CEO, League said,

in a statement at the time of Taylor’s

hiring, he wanted someone “with a strong

voice and battle-tested leadership skills.”

In Taylor, Alamo found someone who had

honed those skills outside the exhibition

industry. Before being hired by Alamo, she

served as president and CEO of Austinbased

United PF Partners, a conglomerate

of Planet Fitness franchisees. In 2010 she

started a brief tenure as V.P. of Disney

English China, working to deliver Englishlanguage

experiences, products, and

services to children ages 2 to 12. But her

longest pre-Alamo role was at Starbucks,

where Taylor was instrumental in the

40 Winter 2020

Alamo Drafthouse’s

South Lamar theater

Winter 2020



company’s expansion in China from the

late ’90s through the first decade of the

21st century.

Joining Alamo as its new CEO would

be like “my early days of Starbucks. I

wanted that again,” she says. The timing,

admittedly, was “crazy, [but] I’m still glad I

did it. My first few weeks were shell shock.

The team was amazing, really welcoming

and supportive, even if I was meeting all of

them via Zoom or Google Hangouts.”

During her time with Starbucks,

Taylor developed an understanding

of what she calls scaling snowflakes:

building an infrastructure that allows

for company growth while holding on to

the “specialness and community touch”

that existed when the company was

smaller. “How do you allow each Alamo to

be a snowflake—but scale? In some ways,

people might argue Starbucks has not

done that, because now it’s everywhere.

It’s ubiquitous. But Starbucks has [done

so],” she argues, in terms of the culture

they’ve created and “how they take care

of their people and how they connect with

their community.”

Taylor’s hiring fits in nicely with the

growth story of Alamo. Founded in 1997,

“My first few weeks were

shell shock. The team was

amazing, really welcoming

and supportive, even

if I was meeting all of

them via Zoom or Google


the dine-in chain made a name for itself

with innovative, offbeat programming,

mixing mainstream Hollywood titles

with indie/art house fare and repertory

selections, often from horror, sci-fi, and

other genres with strong cult followings. In

the years since, it’s grown to 41 locations,

some operating under a franchise model.

In 2016, Alamo opened its first New York

location in Downtown Brooklyn. In 2019, it

came to Los Angeles. Additional locations,

as of September 2019, were planned for

Lower Manhattan and Orlando, Florida.

As Alamo grew from a one-screen

theater in an Austin warehouse to the

13th largest exhibitor in North America

(as of February 2020), it developed its

own company culture. Taylor wants

to “amplify” and direct that culture, in

part by building diversity within the

organization. At the same time, she says,

“It’s no secret that we’ve had some internal

problems with sexual harassment and

such”—specifically, allegations that arose

in 2016 and 2017 (against the editor-inchief

of an Alamo-backed publication and

a co-founder of Alamo’s genre film festival,

Fantastic Fest) and others that resurfaced

earlier this year.

42 Winter 2020

“I think growth overtook [Alamo],”

Taylor says. “The structure that needed

to be in place to take a culture that was

already pretty darn great and amplify

it” was not there. Moving forward, the

questions to ask are, “How do we prevent

any more bad actors getting in the door?

And if they do, how do you eliminate

them as quickly as possible?” To that

end, Alamo has revamped its reporting

procedure, introducing a “Speak Up”

platform designed to improve the

process of tracking, reporting, reviewing,

and analyzing workplace allegations.

Further updates aimed at improving

Alamo’s culture include workplace health

surveys, interactive training, a new

learning management system to improve

internal communication, and a concern

resolution process.

Taylor is confident that Alamo’s growth

will continue in the wake of the pandemic,

even if it comes partially as a result of

industry consolidation. “I hate saying this,

because it’s horrific, but there are going to

be—unfortunately—a lot of theaters that

don’t make it. … [That’s] not the way that

we want to win. I’d prefer to win through

competition and all of us doing our best.

But we’ll be the beneficiary of that, as well.

Right now, it’s just survival,” she says.

As of the first week of October, Alamo

stood between 5 and 20 percent of prior

year sales, with private cinema rentals

serving as a “bright spot” in a period when

the industry is hampered by a lack of new

studio releases. Alamo may play a lot of

independent and art house titles, but,

Taylor says, “We won’t survive off indies.”

Tentpoles remain a necessary way to draw

people back into cinemas. The way things

stand now, “basically, you can break even

before rent, but not with rent. We’re open

because we want to be there for the films,

and we want to be there for our guests. But

it continues to cost us quite a bit of money

to remain open.”

Still, Taylor looks to the post-Covid

future, noting that the past few months

have given the Alamo team new insights

into things like “how to be more effective

and efficient within our theaters and

improve [our] unit economics.” A robust,

consistent film slate, when it does arrive,

will open up new opportunities for the

chain, including for franchisees. “That’s

important to us, to expand our footprint.

If we’re going to [support] filmmakers and

studios and maximize the life of a film,

Left and top: Alamo

Drafthouse’s Mueller

theater and its Barrel O’

Fun event space in Austin,


Above and p. 41: Alamo’s

Austin South Lamar

location wants you to

come play with them,


that footprint matters. We want as many

people to have access to the movies as


That phrase—the life or life cycle of

a film—is one that Taylor comes back

to several times. As a newcomer to

exhibition, she is not, she says, married

to the tradition of three-month theatrical

exclusivity that’s long been the standard

in our industry: “I don’t have an emotional

attachment to the model.” Before her

tenure at Alamo began, the chain screened

Netflix titles, including Alfonso Cuarón’s

Roma. After their theaters shut down

in March, Alamo joined many other

exhibitors in switching to the virtualtheatrical

model, under the brand “Alamoat-Home.”

In May, they launched their

own VOD platform, Alamo on Demand,

Winter 2020



“What does incredible

presentation look like?

And how do we have

great theaters, so when

filmmakers are making

movies that absolutely

should be out on the big

screen … we can create that

experience for our guests?”

Above: Alamo

Drafthouse’s Mueller

theater, Austin, Texas

which, like the cinema proper, mixes

mainstream titles with more niche

offerings. In August, several Alamo

locations were open in time to screen Bill

& Ted Face the Music, which distributor

United Artists shifted from an exclusive

theatrical release to day-and-date several

months into the Covid-19 pandemic.

(Alamo SVP Steve Bunnell noted in an

August press release that the chain was

“the first theater company to show Bill &

Ted Face the Music,” inviting audiences

to free screenings early in the week of its

official bow.)

Going to the movies is about

community, Taylor says. It’s a core part

of Alamo’s brand and something that’s

“never going to go out of style,” even if

the culture of moviegoing has taken a

big—and, Taylor believes, temporary—hit.

“I think about the filmmaker who had a

vision and a passion and brought a story

to life that was meant to be on a big screen.

That was meant to have 200 people sitting

together, experiencing that experience,

leaving the theater talking about it—being

impacted,” she says. “I can’t imagine going

through that and developing that and

putting my life into it and then not having

that opportunity.”

But there are opportunities, too,

outside the relatively brief period in

a film’s life when it plays in theaters.

Alamo wants to be involved in those

other stages, all the way from “help[ing]

emerging filmmakers have a voice” to

streaming. “People, from my perspective,

are entrenched in what they need to win,

versus what the ecosystem needs. … And

from an Alamo perspective, that’s the

conversation that we want to engage in.

What does incredible presentation look

like? And how do we have great theaters,

so when filmmakers are making movies

that absolutely should be out on the big

screen … we can create that experience

for our guests? We believe that there are a

lot of films that deserve that.” At the same

time, shortened widows will provide an

“opportunity for more diversity of titles

within the theater.”

What shortened windows won’t do,

she says, is stop people from going to

the cinema once Covid passes, tentpoles

return, and the industry returns to a

new normal. “We’re not going to be

cocooning. We’re going to be like, ‘Get

us out!’ So now is not the time for us to

be squabbling. Now’s the time for us to

say, ‘We’re all struggling’”—exhibitors,

studios, filmmakers, and vendor partners

alike. “The community is struggling. What

are we going to do to survive? And then

what do we do to make the best possible

experience to [reach] moviegoers wherever

they’re watching a movie?”

44 Winter 2020






Concessions Will Play a

Crucial Role in Cinemas’

Recovery. It Also Introduces

New Challenges.


As cinemas around the world

struggle with a dearth of new

studio releases during the Covid-19

reopening phase, exhibitors have relied

on concessions sales to mitigate the

financial impact of the pandemic. As a

result, operators are quickly adapting

to changing consumer habits in the

coronavirus era—a disruption that has

upended both long-standing practices and

new trends in cinema food and beverage.

“Prior to Covid we were experiencing

expanded menus, self-serve options, and

a focus on environmentally friendly,

reduced packaging with a move away

from plastics,” says Shelly Olesen, vice

president of sales and marketing at C.

Cretors & Company. “In this upside-down

world, post-Covid, many menus have been

drawn back to core concession items,” she

says. Olesen cites popcorn, beverages

(alcohol, in particular), candy, hot dogs,

nachos, and pretzels as being among the

most successful concessions during the

Covid recovery.

A pioneer in the popcorn business, the

family-owned company has dealt with

other global crises since its founding

in 1885. During its time in business,

Cretors has outlasted the financial toll

of two world wars, countless natural

disasters, and an assortment of historydefining

events—including the last global

pandemic to shutter U.S. cinemas, the 1918

flu pandemic. Throughout the course of

history, Cretors has kept its position in the

concessions business by sticking to what’s

always gotten them through the twists and

turns of global events: popcorn sales. “It

was popcorn and soda that helped keep

the cinema doors open during the Great

Depression, and we are pretty certain it

will be these champion items that do it

again,” says Olesen.

Popcorn and soda alone will certainly

not be enough to save cinemas from the

most serious crisis the industry has faced

since its beginnings. Until a vaccine

comes along, however, the tried-and-true

combo is exhibitors’ best bet, as the sector

faces additional months of uncertainty

ahead. This back-to-basics approach in

embracing classic staples is indicative

of a sector-wide retraction in food and

beverage sales, according to Larry Etter,

senior vice president at Malco Theatres

and director of education at the National

Association of Concessionaires. “We have

reduced the number of menu items offered

to accomplish the specific goal of moving

46 Winter 2020

patrons in and out of the lobbies as fast as

possible,” he says, referring to the strict

social distancing guidelines imposed

to alleviate congestion in common

areas. Etter finds that business pivot

ironic: “That was our intended goal for

years, and for the sake of competitive

advantages we got away from doing what

we do best to instead focus on things that

look cool and innovative. What I’m hearing

from nearly everyone is that per capita

sales are up roughly 20 to 25 percent with

smaller menus and reduced options.”

Reduced concessions menus have also

emerged out of more practical concerns,

says Beau Bartoni, vice president of sales

and marketing at Packaging Concepts

Inc. “Theaters are reopening with limited

concessions for both ease of managing

their inventory and to serve products that

can be delivered safely. In some regions,

concessions are prepackaged, and certain

items are not able to be served due to local


Joe Macaluso, vice president of sales,

U.S. and Canada, at Gold Medal products,

agrees. “More locations are turning

to grab-and-go products or seeking

packaging solutions to replace the typical

open-air bags or tubs,” he says. That

development helped fast-track several

new Gold Medal products that had been

planned before the pandemic, the virus

acting as a catalyst for the company to

prioritize their introduction to the market.

Gold Medal, for example, launched a

series of ready-to-eat gourmet popcorn

available in two prepackaged sizes and five

flavors. They also launched a touchless

butter dispenser, a self-service device that

operates using photo-eye technology, after

releasing a ReadyServe popcorn dispenser

in 2019. “These products were already

planned, but their demand increased due

to Covid-19 … that trend was already

emerging prior to the concerns

surrounding the virus.”

It’s an observation that has been

frequently repeated in financial reporting

about consumer habits during Covid-19:

Rather than introducing entirely new

products and technologies, the pandemic

has accelerated the pace of change of

preexisting trends. Among them has been a

shift to a largely cashless experience at the

cinema, with the advent of digital ticketing

and cinema apps allowing audiences to

reserve—and pay for—a night out at the

movies directly on their phones.

As cinemas began to shutter in mid-

March, several operators relied on curbside

concessions sales through their digital

apps as a way to channel sorely needed

income. The practice helped accelerate the

adoption of mobile concessions ordering

and led concessions marketing supplier

RCM Media to introduce its own line of

customized digital apps for movie theaters.

“Being able to order ahead, skip the

line, and have contact-free check-in is a

much more streamlined process than the

traditional way of going to the movies,” says

Rick Vegaz, RCM’s vice president of digital

marketing and technology. “This way,

theaters can focus on providing the best

customer experience and less on day-to-day

transactions. Using one of our 360 cinema

apps, customers can order concessions to

be delivered to their seats to help improve

the flow of people in the lobby.”

Digital orders can also help exhibitors

untap data associated with individual

consumers’ preferences when it comes

to movie snacks. This enables

exhibitors to retarget specific

audience segments to promote

particular items or special promotions—

as they already do with ticket purchases.

Packaging Concepts’ Bartoni says that out

of all the innovations that have stemmed

from Covid-19, he believes this will be the

most lasting. “Digital concession sales will

only continue to grow,” he says.

Etter agrees, citing preordering

technology as a long-lasting trend to

emerge from this crisis: “I think cashless

facilities will be the new norm.” On the

other hand, however, the Malco Theatres

executive is concerned about the recovery

of specialty concessions items, such as

premium vessels, toppers, and movie tie-in

popcorn tins. These products, often sold as

collectibles at an upcharge, rely on a steady

stream of tentpole titles from major studios.

Products need to be licensed, designed, and

ordered well in advance of an announced

release date before even being offered to

moviegoers. With the studio release slate

up in the air, and talk of nearly every major

title on the schedule being rescheduled

for months or forgoing theaters entirely,

concessions marketing vendors like RCM

Media and Golden Link are especially

vulnerable to the whims of major studios.

“This has been a problem for all of us

in this wonderful industry,” says RCM

president and co-founder Jim McGinness.

“We plan and produce our promotional

Winter 2020



“I believe the slowdown

of promotions will not be

long lasting, and as soon

as cinemas are confident

that the big titles will stop

moving, cinemas will start

committing to promotions

once again.” —Jeff Waaland,

Golden Link

concession items months in advance of

the movie’s release, and when the movie

circumvents theaters or is pushed back

indefinitely, it changes everything.”

That isn’t to imply consumer interest

has abated; sales of specialty popcorn

vessels remain in high demand according

to Jodi Pine, RCM Media’s executive vice

president of sales and marketing. She

points to smaller concessions menus as

one of the main drivers for that demand

but admits “it’s been difficult to create

concession programs and promotions to

support our theater partners as studios

keep changing their release dates.”

“Our business is tied primarily to large

titles. With the constant changes and

films pushing back or some going straight

to VOD, most cinemas have become very

conservative in terms of activating and

planning film promotions for the rest

of the year—and even into next year’s

first-quarter titles,” echoes Jeff Waaland,

president of Golden Link. Despite these

recent struggles, Waaland is confident

it is only a bump in the road. “I believe

the slowdown of promotions will not

be long lasting, and as soon as cinemas

are confident that the big titles will stop

moving, cinemas will start committing to

promotions once again.”

It’s crucial to keep in mind, despite

how endless the Covid-19 recovery seems,

that the solutions of today might not

be relevant tomorrow. While vendors

like Cretors have quickly adapted to

offering additional products such as

hand-sanitizing stations and mobile floor

standing shields to help cinemas better

serve customers through the pandemic,

their core business remains tied to

delivering dependable equipment that can

be used for years to come.

When asked if cinemas should consider

any future changes to the design of their

concession stands, Larry Etter answers with

a categorical reply: Do not change a thing.

“If an architect starts drawing new

sanitary instruments, spacing, lighting,

and restrooms—how long will it take to

complete construction of that project?

Twenty-four months? Longer? By the

time all of the implementation of virusprotection

conditions are built, we will be

back to 2019-type operations,” he says. “In

constructing new facilities, we need to

have a vision of what 2023 will look like;

hopefully it won’t be too much like today.”

48 Winter 2020




When it comes to concessions,

it comes from Cretors.

Only Cretors combines five generations of industry leadership with more than

130 years of forward-thinking innovations. Backed by our industrial manufacturing

R&D for global snack food giants, we bring revolutionary products to the

concessions marketplace, time and again. Whether it’s an industry-changing

safety feature, a long-sought-after option or a customizable machine made

for the way you sell anywhere in the world, there’s no limit to our ingenuity.

Made in America, loved world-round!

Contact Shelly Olesen at 847.616.6901 or visit www.cretors.com

Winter 2020




50 Winter 2020

As cinemas reopen, high-margin

concessions like alcohol are gaining renewed

appreciation. Could wine emerge as one of

cinema’s post-pandemic F&B trends?



Winter 2020



When Sideways opened in

four theaters on October 22,

2004, no one expected the

film to linger much beyond

that year’s awards season. The movie did

very well in its opening weekend, grossing

a little over $200,000 and scoring the

highest per-screen average in the market.

And it had legs. Word of mouth helped

expand the film to become a hit for Fox

Searchlight, crossing over from art house

theaters to multiplex screens nationwide

in what proved to be a 30-week theatrical

run. An Academy Award for Best Adapted

Screenplay and Golden Globe for Best

Picture, Comedy or Musical, punctuated a

successful $71.5 million run. The film’s true

cultural impact, however, would be felt well

beyond cinema screens for years to come.

Fifteen years on, the wine world is still

recovering from what has been called the

“Sideways Effect,” when consumers took

note of the protagonist’s strong affinity

for pinot noir and even stronger aversion

to merlot. News reports went on to

document a dramatic uptick in the sales

and production of pinot noir grapes in the

United States, while merlot suffered under

the weight of Paul Giamatti’s infamous

line in the film: “I am not drinking any

fucking merlot!”

“I was working at [Michelin-starred]

The Modern in New York City at the

time—everyone wanted pinot noir and no

one wanted merlot,” recalls Jessica Bell,

who left a career in investment banking to

become a sommelier during that period.

“This movie had just pushed this craze … [it]

turned the entire wine market on its head.”

All these years later, it’s striking that

a film that grossed under $100 million

would have such a lasting effect on

consumer choices. It also revealed an

important potential for cinema professionals

across the country: Wine drinkers

like going to the movies, yet the movies

were hardly a venue for wine drinkers at

the time.

Alcohol service has rapidly expanded

its footprint at U.S. cinemas over the last

two decades, going from a niche offering

to a full-blown trend. “Our first true bar

opened in 2002 as part of a casual-dine

concept on Long Island, New York,” says

Patrick Micalizzi, V.P. of food and beverage

at National Amusements’ Showcase

Cinemas. “Eighteen years later, a majority

of our cinemas offer liquor, beer, and

wine service in our restaurants, dine-in

operations, and walk-up lobby bars. The

demand for adult beverages at the movies

continues to climb.”

Larry Etter, SVP at Malco Theatres

and director of education of the National

Association of Concessionaires, says

alcohol service has become more than a

trend, calling it “almost obligatory” when

it comes to new builds and renovations.

“The new era of cinema now must include

food and beverage offerings, hence, bigger

menus and adult beverages.”

As Etter notes, expanded menus and

alcohol service have emerged as two of the

biggest trends at U.S. cinemas over the last

decade. These have presented both new

opportunities and challenges as cinema

concessionaires add alcohol service, says

Rob Novak, V.P. of concessions and F&B at

Right: A successful

alcohol program

requires more than

a wine list. Marcus

Theatres’ Take Five

Lounge gives patrons

a comfortable place to

enjoy a drink before or

after a movie.

Left, below:

HaloVino, a reusable

narrow-rimmed wine

glass designed for

entertainment venues

“Wine has to be delivered

in a way that feels and

tastes like wine. So many

food-service operators

offer wine in a flimsy, widerimmed

cup and wonder

why wine sales are so low.”

—HaloVino’s Jessica Bell

52 Winter 2020

Marcus Theatres. “The cinema experience

is vastly different than it was 10 years

ago. In addition to traditional popcorn

and soda, guests can now order wine and

a cheeseburger,” he says. “But serving

wine has a few challenges. Wine drinkers

are accustomed to receiving their brand

of choice in a glass with a stem. The cup

holders in a theater, however, are not

designed for stemware. Wine served in a

more theater-friendly plastic cup has been

the resolution, and guests are now starting

to get more comfortable with that approach,

but it was a bit of an adjustment.”

That specific challenge is what inspired

Jessica Bell to create HaloVino, a reusable

narrow-rimmed wine glass designed to

enhance the wine experience at entertainment

venues. “You go to an art show

or an opening night at a gallery, and wine

is always part of the experience,” she says.

“Wine has to be delivered in a way that feels

and tastes like wine. So many food-service

operators offer wine in a flimsy, widerimmed

cup and wonder why wine sales

are so low. You could put the best wine in

that cup, and it won’t feel or taste like wine

to most wine drinkers. I liken wine drinkers’

reaction to getting wine in a cheap

plastic cup to that of a beer drinker getting

warm, flat beer. They may still drink it, but

they won’t enjoy the experience.”

That cinema was, until recently, a

largely unexplored wine market within

the arts sector meant that trial and error

by exhibitors was to be expected. As many

cinemas have already discovered, simply

putting alcoholic beverages on a menu

isn’t enough. Whenever an adult beverage

is incorporated into a cinema’s overall F&B

strategy—whether that entails pouring

a craft beer on tap or offering a special

cocktail with a movie tie-in—it goes from

being a menu item to being part of the

moviegoing experience. When executed

successfully, it becomes part of your

cinema’s unique moviegoing experience.

Lounges and bar areas play an

important role in wine’s consumer appeal

at the cinema. A glass of wine can serve

as a pre-date drink before a couple enters

an auditorium or be part of a post-movie

conversation. “Movie theaters are a social

place, and our lounges and bars should

feel the same,” Novak advises. “We create a

variety of specialty drinks that oftentimes

align with movies. Large-screen TVs showcase

sports and create community among

guests and associates; oversized bar games

such as giant Scrabble get guests mingling

and talking; and our bartenders help

create a fun, relaxed environment as part

of your visit.”

One time-consuming task that comes

with introducing wine service is securing

a liquor license. “Every municipality

has a different structure and protocol

for obtaining a permit to sell,” says Etter.

“Some communities welcome the new

upgrades in wine service; others fight to

keep alcohol out of a ‘family’ venue.”

Once a liquor license is obtained,

exhibitors must then tackle challenges like

incorporating a bar area or lounge space,

securing storage for bottles, and boosting

staffing and training. “Serving alcohol

carries a greater level of responsibility and

requires additional training and staffing,”

notes Novak. “Establishing stringent

protocols surrounding carding and

further enforcing them through voluntary

third-party ‘checks’ ensures we continue

to uphold the policies.”

“It’s an entirely new business added to

the cinema-management process,” agrees

Etter. “Let’s not forget that an open bottle

of wine has a very short shelf life. When

Winter 2020









By Larry Etter, SVP Malco

Theatres & Director of

Education at National

Association of Concessionaires


Develop a pricing structure

and pro forma.

selling by the glass, it has to be sold within

48 hours. Beer, spirits, soda syrup, candy—

none of these have the limited time to

serve like wine.”

Many districts in the United States

require a full menu and kitchen space

when granting a liquor license, which

means that wine’s growth in cinemas

has been in parallel to the rise of dine-in

cinemas and expanded concessions in

the United States. Marcus Theatres first

introduced alcohol service in May 2007,

with the opening of the Majestic Cinema

of Brookfield in Wisconsin. The location

offered several in-theater dining concepts

and an expanded menu, opening the door

to cocktails, beer, and wine in the circuit.

“As a result, more than three-quarters of

our properties now serve alcohol, and

offerings have grown. For example, we

now feature 12 to 20 different beers on tap

and nearly a dozen types of bottled wine,”

says Novak.

Curating a wine list can become the

key difference maker in ensuring wine’s

success at a cinema. At Marcus Theatres,

Novak says the circuit’s wine selections are

directly tied to its overall F&B strategy.

“We conduct an evaluation of the

alcoholic beverages we serve on an annual

basis, and wine selection is part of this

overall process,” he says. “We meet with

major wine distributors to learn about

current trends and consult with our

third-party marketing firm during the

menu redesign period. We apply those

learnings and ensure that we have a wide

variety of offerings at various price points.

Together these are the drivers for making

necessary adjustments to the wine selection

on our menu.”

Janet Michels, former director of

purchasing at Studio Movie Grill, the

country’s leading dine-in-focused circuit,

says her company’s wine selection process

is “a collaboration of our beverage manager,

operations team, and our owner. We typically

feature wines that are familiar to the

guests. Our guests tend to purchase wines

based on names they are familiar with and

that they perhaps drink at home.” Studio

Movie Grill also offers its own signature

branded wines, developed about five years

ago with a California winemaker. “We have

a chardonnay, a cabernet, and one white

table wine, called Betty’s Blend, which is

named after our owner’s wife,” Michels says.

Like Studio Movie Grill, popular

independent Brooklyn dine-in theater

Nitehawk Cinema has cultivated its own

branded wine, in collaboration with

Brooklyn Winery. “We started our partnership

with them a few years ago, at first

by having their Finger Lakes Riesling on

our menu,” says Nitehawk Prospect Park

beverage director Nick Dodge. “We really

enjoy working with local craft producers

and have been lucky to be operating


Get in touch with the local

wine distribution company

and discuss your priorities,

price points, variety, the

attributes and profiles of

the wines. Decide what your

intentions are, the signature

you’re putting into your wine

service. Ask what winemakers

can do to support the



Create a promotional program

that emphasizes the integrity

and uniqueness of the



Offer wine tastings and

promotional activities that

engage the patrons in your



Analyze the results.

54 Winter 2020

in New York during a huge growth of

amazing New York–made beverages. We

are pretty spoiled to be surrounded by

so many talented producers, so we had a

good working relationship with Brooklyn

Winery and are big fans of everything they

have been doing there. We were at the

winery for a tasting of new vintages a few

years ago, and the idea came up of working

with them on our own proprietary blend.”

The process took nearly a year. In the

interim, the Nitehawk began working with

the winery’s graphic designer to make its

own label for the wine. “It was branded

with our name and logo on the bottle.

The first blend we made we simply called

Nitehawk Cinema x Brooklyn Winery Red

Blend no. 1,” says Dodge. “Because this was

a special blend and not something they

regularly produced, we were able to sell

it only as long as supplies lasted. It was a

popular wine choice for our customers and

really well received. We were completely

sold out after a few months.

“Although we are sold out of our

Nitehawk Winery blend, we still have an

amazing selection of wines at our theaters,

sales of which account for around

20 percent of our alcoholic beverage

sales,” notes Dodge. “In particular in the

last few years, we have been focusing on

smaller producers that utilize sustainable,

natural, and organic practices. One

of the things about Nitehawk that we

like to think sets us apart from much

of our competitors is the quality of the

products that we serve, and I think our

wine program is a great example of that.

We have a small but curated list that

focuses on quality and value. We have

some old-world classics like a Provençal

rosé, Italian prosecco, and a German

Riesling, and some modern innovators

like a biodynamic Argentinian pinot

noir, a natural-fermentation Alvarelhão

from Lodi [California], and even a few

skin-contact or orange wines. We have

been really thrilled at our customer

response, and wine sales have been

growing over the last few years, more

than any other beverage category.”

For dine-in cinemas like the Nitehawk

and Studio Movie Grill, wine pairing is

part of the experience of enjoying dinner

at the movies. “We always make sure that

we have a wine on our menu that pairs well

with each food category,” says Michels. “In

fact, we will send [moviegoers] a dedicated

email with pairings for both wine and

spirits.” Among her personal favorite

pairings are “edamame with K-J Avant

Chardonnay, sriracha chicken sliders with

Freakshow Cabernet, and any pizza with

Caymus Conundrum Red!”

“Making sure that we have the right

breadth and depth of wine choices becomes

an important part of efficiently managing

inventory,” adds Novak. “We’ve found that

our guests who enjoy wine are passionate

about what they drink. They care about a

brand or type of wine more so than a

recommendation for a wine and snack

Left: “We always make

sure that we have a

wine on our menu that

pairs well with each

food category.” —Janet

Michels, director of

purchasing, Studio

Movie Grill

Above: New York’s

Nitehawk Cinema

partnered with Brooklyn

Winery to create its own

branded series of wines.

Winter 2020



pairing. As such, we place our focus on the

variety of wine offerings versus pairings.

“We do not have one varietal of wine that

works for all of our theater guests,” Novak

says, “so we have made the decision to

offer a combination of brands and varietals

from Gallo, Terlato, Jackson Family, and

more. From an entry-level wine to a more

sophisticated taste, we have offerings and

price points that meet the needs of our

various guests. The wines we serve range

from common to exclusive, and the price

points are arranged by tiers. A 6-ounce

size, entry-level wine starts at $7, whereas

a 9-ounce size that is more refined is

approximately $15. In addition, we offer

canned wine through our concession stand

at select theaters, and full bottles of wine

are available for sharing at bar locations.”

As anyone who has glanced at the deep

end of a wine list at an upscale restaurant

can attest, pricing can be an intimidating

barrier to entry for patrons. Larry Etter

suggests studying a location’s market

and demographics when building a wine

list, “getting as much intel from the wine

distributors as possible to offer the highest

value—not just the least expensive wines.

My opinion is no theater should offer

cheap wine—we are competing with the

neighborhood restaurants and bars; we

have to be equal to or better than them. We

need to offer high-quality vintages at fair

prices. Theater patrons are willing to pay

between $10 and $15 per glass—a 5-ounce

pour gives you five portions per bottle. You

can get high-quality wines in that medium

price range.”

Pricing has been an important component

of Studio Movie Grill’s wine strategy.

“Our best-selling wine is our house wine

at $7 a glass, which is very competitively

priced on the menu, though we do sell

quite a number of wines in the $10 range,”

says Michels. “Also highly popular is our 25

percent-off bottles of wine on Friday and

Saturday nights.”

Sharing a bottle is common at dine-ins

like Studio Movie Grill. At Showcase

Cinemas, bottles are offered at dine-in

locations, but sales are mostly driven by

the glass. “Our lobby bars do exceptionally

well with wines by the glass, as movies are

a social event,” says National Amusements’

Micalizzi, who reports that wine sales

at the circuit perform well against beer

and spirits and account for more than

30 percent of the greater category. “Our

customers have many options for a meal

as part of their moviegoing experience, but

the social aspect and comfort of our lobby

bars and lounges make it quite inviting for

guests to sip on a glass and converse with

their friends and family. Certain genres

of film attract an audience that is likely

to enjoy a glass of wine, and being able to

offer that to them at many of our locations

enhances their overall experience.”

As opposed to concessions staples like

soda, popcorn, and candy, wine’s success

at cinemas relies largely on its demographics,

according to Etter. “We have a theater

where 75 percent of all alcohol sales come

from wine. Other locations have different

demographics [where] wine is lower than

30 percent of the total sales mix,” he says.

“As a general observation, wine equates

to about 35 percent of the sales mix in

[Malco’s] adult-beverage sales. Wine has

been accountable for an average 8 percent

increase in per capita sales.”

Wine is one of the many enhancements

to moviegoing that has grown in recent

years, as cinemas elevate the standard

of the theatrical experience as an out-ofhome

entertainment. Recliner seating,

premium large format, and expanded

menus have all contributed to this effort.

Wine, as its own category, shows plenty

of potential for continued growth in the

coming years.

“Wine at the movies is here to stay,”

says Micalizzi. “I think it will continue

to perform and grow at a nice pace. Wine

knowledge and our guests’ passion for

wine both out-of-home and in-home are

continuing to push the category forward.

The opportunity to expand our wine

offerings through our menus and innovate

with wine-based cocktails and seasonal

sangrias allows us to keep the category

fresh and entice new audiences.”

Left: Showcase

Cinema de Lux Cross

Country in Yonkers,

New York, offers a

dedicated lounge area

for patrons in its lobby.

56 Winter 2020


We asked sommelier Jessica

Bell to create wine pairings for

concession stand classics.

Popcorn & Sauvignon Blanc

Most people would default to a buttery

chardonnay, but a crisp sauvignon blanc

is the perfect foil for buttered popcorn.

Rather than creating similar flavors when

pairing wine with food, I think you should

pick complementary flavors—almost like

you’re adding an extra ingredient. With

popcorn, a buttery chardonnay just adds

more of the same flavor; you have to watch

out for palate fatigue. I’m always looking

for something that wakes up the palate,

something that motivates you to take the

next bite. Whenever you have a big plate

of food with one dominant flavor, you

get tired of it pretty quickly. Wine works

the same way; it’s about creating unique

experiences within that one tasting. With

sauvignon blanc, you’ve got this crisp,

citrusy wine that acts as a foil for all that

oil and butter.

Chocolate & Shiraz

An Aussie Shiraz is going to balance well

with chocolate, not because it has a lot of

sugar in it, but because it has a perception

of sweetness due to the ripe fruit.

Chocolate Raisins & Zinfandel

The zinfandel grape naturally “raisinates”

a bit on the vine. The raisin flavors make

it a softer, sweeter red that will go nicely

with the chocolate. The sweeter the food,

the sweeter the wine you should seek.

Mint Chocolate & Port

Mint chocolate is virtually impossible to

pair with wine, to be honest. If I had to

have a wine, I would go with a port. Port

is an occasion-driven pairing, so imagine

lingering at the table after dinner, having

chocolates with someone special. Mint

and peanuts are probably two of the

hardest [flavors] to pair with wine.

Gummy Bears & Moscato

Moscato is one of the sweeter wines available.

It has some nice fruit flavors—peach

and pear notes, even some tropical fruits—

so it goes really nicely with gummy bears.

Sour Gummies & Riesling

Riesling is also sweet, but it’s high acid; it

has a very crisp edge. Riesling can sometimes

taste something like SweeTarts, so it

goes really well with Sour Gummies.

Nachos & Rosé

I just love drinking rosé with Mexican

food. You really don’t want a warm, red

wine with your nachos, especially if they

include jalapeños—spicy foods and red

wine don’t typically go well together. But a

little bit of red fruit is a great complement;

that’s why rosé is a good match.

Hot Dog & Pinot Noir

No one eats a hot dog without any

condiments, right? So I’m thinking of

flavors like mustard, ketchup, relish, and

onions. Pinot noir has a good amount of

fruit; it has high acid and low tannin, so

it’s not going to conflict with all of those

condiments. Sweetness and acidity have

the same kind of pairing guidelines. In this

case, the higher the acid in the food, the

higher the acid you want in your wine.

Pretzel & Chardonnay

Chardonnay can go with anything. A

pretzel is neutral but salty and sometimes

comes with condiments, like mustard or

cheese. Chardonnay typically isn’t very

aromatic or intense; it’s a more muted

wine. That’s why I think it would go nicely

with a pretzel.

Pizza & Merlot

Merlot has medium acid, medium tannin,

and medium body, which, I know, sounds

mediocre, but it means it’s really well

balanced. Merlots are typically described

as “smooth”—it’s simple and easy to like,

without having to prove anything. The

same goes for pizza. Who doesn’t like

pizza? That’s why pizza and merlot is a

classic Tuesday-night special.

Chicken Tenders & Tempranillo

I lived in Spain for two years and worked

for a Spanish winery, so I had to find a

place for my true love. Spanish tempranillo

is light bodied and easy drinking, but it

can take on many different types of foods.

Tempranillo’s fruit has a bit of an earthy

undertone, so it pairs really well with

chicken fingers.

Burger & Malbec

Malbecs usually have dark fruit notes.

They’re lush with a good amount of

alcohol and can really stand up nicely to a

big burger. Argentina makes fantastic beef

and they’re known for their malbecs. It’s

always good to take the lead from a classic

regional pairing.

Winter 2020 57




Celebrating This Year’s ICTA

EMEA Award Winners


The movie theater industry is a

global one, with theater operators

able to gain insight and inspiration from

the stories of their international brethren.

To that end, Boxoffice Pro is proud to

feature profiles of this year’s ICTA EMEA

Award winners, granted every year by

the International Cinema Technology

Association’s European branch to cinema

operators displaying innovation and

leadership in their approach to technology.

Excellence in design, too, is evident with

this year’s trio of winners, who display a

range of styles from old-school glamour to

sleek modernity.

2020’s honorees fall into three

categories: Classic Cinema, New Build

Cinema, and Cinema Refurbishment, all

in the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa)

region. In a joint statement, the ICTA’s

international directors Till Cussmann,

Oliver Pasch, and Jan Runge said that

this year’s three cinemas “in different

ways illustrate how innovation and

continued diversification of the big screen

experience help attract audiences and

continue to set the cinema experience

apart from home entertainment.” They

added that, given the challenging

situation theaters worldwide find

themselves in, “we hope that the awards

in a small and symbolic way support our

operator partners’ efforts to reengage with

audiences. Huge congratulations to the

outstanding teams of Pathé Netherlands,

Muvi Cinemas, and Cineplexx Group.”

Excellence in design

is evident with this

year’s trio of winners,

who display a range

of styles from oldschool

glamour to

sleek modernity.

58 Winter 2020

Winter 2020





Pathé Tuschinski

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Founded by Abraham Tuschinski as a

site for people at all levels of Amsterdam

society to experience the luxury of

moviegoing, the Pathé Tuschinski

celebrates its 100th anniversary next

year. Due to Covid-19, the exact nature

of the celebratory events are TBD—but

regardless, the Pathé Tuschinski will be

going into its 100th year with a makeover.

The main challenge in renovating

a century-old cinema, says Pathé

Netherlands spokeswoman Imke van

Schaaijk, is balancing the old and the new,

providing “contemporary technology and

convenience” to the modern customer

while adhering to local government

regulations that bar the modification of

“anything that is part of the building as

designed and built 100 years ago.”

The Pathé Tuschinski’s aesthetic—a mix

of Art Deco, Jugendstil, and Amsterdamse

school styles, designed by Hijman Louis

de Jong—has been restored in the second

of its six auditoriums. Originally a cabaret

hall, it was burned down in World War II;

now, new wall paintings echo its earlier

design. Screen One—De Grote Zaal, or the

Grand Auditorium—still has its original

60 Winter 2020

Art Deco and Jugendstil design. Additional

renovations include new seating in five

auditoriums, as well as new screens. The

theater’s common area now boasts the

brand-new Bar Abraham, serving cocktails

based on classic films.

Says van Schaaijk, “We aim to make

the grandeur and heritage of this theater

accessible to all Dutch movie lovers by

screening a mix of today’s blockbusters,

the best Dutch movies, the most beautiful

art house movies,” and special-event

screenings, like performances of the

Metropolitan Opera. Since being allowed

“We aim to make the

grandeur and heritage of

this theater accessible to

all Dutch movie lovers.”

—Imke van Schaaijk,

Pathé Netherlands

to reopen at limited capacity on June 1,

the theater has mixed older titles (like the

extended editions of the Lord of the Rings

trilogy), new Hollywood and European

releases (Tenet, the French-Belgian drama

Été 85, and an Italian Pinocchio adaptation

have done very well at the theater, says van

Schaaijk), popular TV finales, concert films,

and—for the first time—titles from Netflix

and Apple TV+.

Winter 2020





Muvi Cinemas, U-Walk

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Muvi Cinemas was one of the first

chains to enter Saudi Arabia following

that country’s lifting of a decades-long

restriction on public theaters. Since

opening its first location in August 2019,

the chain has expanded its reach to

include a grand total of 10 cinemas in

the country—including 2020’s New Build

Cinema of the Year honoree, the U-Walk.

Located in Riyadh, the U-Walk opened

on March 4, just over a week before cinemas

in the country were ordered to shut down

due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Visitors

were able to enjoy Saudi Arabia’s first Dolby

Cinema as well as the first Samsung Onyx

LED screen in the Middle East and North

Africa (MENA) region. All other screens are

powered by Barco laser projectors.

“Luxury” is the watchword at U-Walk,

with visitors able to avail themselves of

four Muvi Suites, a VIP experience offering

fully reclining seats, dedicated butler

service, and a full food menu. Muvi Suites

guests also have their own dedicated

lounge and a private entrance with valet

parking. Those who want something a

little beyond the traditional screening

experience can also choose to see a movie

62 Winter 2020

“Based on a theme of

urban downtown, with

an aim to create a

dynamic, modern, and

innovative experience.”

—Adon Quinn, Muvi


in U-Walk’s ScreenX auditorium.

The design of the theater, writes Muvi

COO Adon Quinn, “is based on a theme of

urban downtown, with an aim to create

a dynamic, modern, and innovative

experience. The internal spaces have been

characterized by an industrial material

palette, which includes timber, exposed

steelwork, brickwork, graffiti artwork, and

concrete flooring.” The Muvi Suites area

boasts marble floors, wool carpets, timber

paneling, and custom art.

The U-Walk welcomed audiences

back once again starting June 21. Postshutdown

programming included Saudi

Pro League soccer games (with select

games selling out seven of the theater’s 13

screens, at 50% capacity), local language

content, Hollywood blockbusters, and

even pre-screening karaoke. Cinemas in

Saudi Arabia have time for a lot of movies,

notes Quinn, with some screenings

beginning as late as 3:00 a.m., even on


Winter 2020





Cineplexx, Millennium City

Vienna, Austria

Originally opened in 2001 as part of UCI

Cinemas, Vienna’s Millennium City has

for nearly 20 years been a gem of the

Austrian movie scene, selling more than 1

million tickets a year to its 21 auditoriums.

Acquired by Cineplexx in 2019, the

cinema underwent a major makeover,

decreasing the number of screens to 13 in

favor of a more technologically advanced

cinema experience.

That experience begins in the lobby,

where a wave-shaped LED screen adorns

the ceiling, decorating the theater with

a steady flow of popcorn. (Or, season

permitting, snowflakes and Christmas

trees.) In the theaters themselves,

moviegoers have a range of advanced

technology at their disposal, including

Dolby Cinema and Dolby Atmos sound,

Barco’s Flagship Laser projection, RealD’s

Ultimate Screen, and MX4D motion

seating. In terms of design, Millennium

City was built to be open and welcoming,

says co-owner Christof Papousek. “It must

be a light and safe place for all people, no

matter where they come from.”

The majority of the renovation to

Cineplexx Millennium City was completed

64 Winter 2020

efore March 14, when Cineplexx

suspended operations due to the Covid-19

pandemic. The rest was completed during

closure, preparing Cineplexx Millennium

City for a grand return on August 4.

The total investment, says Papousek,

exceeded 10 million euros total, a share

of it contributed by the real estate owners,

whose invaluable partnership during

the renovation process made the whole

project possible.

“It was a huge effort to maintain the

operation,” says Papousek, but it was

“important in order to keep the cinema

“It must be a light

and safe place for

all people, no matter

where they come

from.” —Christof

Papousek, Cineplexx

in the guests’ minds.” Since reopening,

the cinema has mixed Hollywood titles

with local and German films, European

indies, and titles from Eastern European

countries. With theaters in some markets

across Europe undergoing a second

shutdown, Papousek argues that now is

the time to celebrate theatrical beacons

of hope like Millennium City. “They will

be the stars for our lives once public life

comes slightly back to normal.”

Winter 2020









When Boxoffice Pro was founded

in 1920, cinema had already evolved

from an obscure technology into a fullfledged

entertainment industry. Silent

pictures had matured as an art form

throughout the first two decades of the

20th century, creating national hubs for

production, distribution, and exhibition

in countries like France, Germany, the

Soviet Union, and the United States.

As production technology improved,

audiences grew, paving the way for a

booming film and exhibition industry.

While this timeline is by no means

exhaustive, it highlights some of the

notable technological innovations in

motion picture presentation over the

last 100 years of our history.

Winter 2020



Left: A Vitaphone

projection setup at a

1926 demonstration.

Engineer E.B. Craft is

holding a soundtrack


Below: Moviegoers

outside the theater for

the premiere of Warner

Bros.’ Don Juan.


Lee de Forest unveils Phonofilm,

an optical sound-on-film format

that converts sound into light

waves and reproduces them on

a photographic strip running

alongside a reel of 35 mm film.

More than 200 short films are

made in Phonofilm, but de Forest

never seriously interests

Hollywood in his invention.


Warner Bros. releases The

Jazz Singer, the first American

feature film to use sound

technology to reproduce

dialogue. The Jazz Singer only

featured sound in selected

scenes, and the studio would

go on to debut its first “alltalkie”

feature, The Lights of

New York, in 1928.


Abel Gance’s Napoleon

includes a sequence meant

to be exhibited on a triptych

screen, employing multiple

projectors. The title is the

first major film to pioneer the

panoramic screen concept and

inspires later innovations in

wide-screen formats.


Warner Bros.’ Don Juan

becomes the first film to use

VitaPhone synchronized-sound

technology. Although it does

not feature spoken dialogue,

the film does include a musical

score and sound effects.


Western Electric introduces

its sound-on-film technology,

subsequently adopted by Fox

Film Corporation and the

“Big Five” leading production

companies of the era: MGM,

Universal, First National,

Paramount, and Producers

Distributing Corporation.

68 Winter 2020


After a series of mergers, German

firm Tobis-Klangfilm ramps

up production of its sound

technology—scooping up most

of Europe’s most influential

markets in the process.

Tobis-Klangfilm’s Tri-Ergon

format emerges as the biggest

competitor of the Western

Electric sound system embraced

by Hollywood, setting off a global

competition in the growing

global sound cinema market.


Warner Bros. releases 42nd

Street, a commercial hit that

inspires a wave of studio

musicals. 42nd Street is the

culmination of some of its

era’s most advanced film

technologies, including

musical numbers with

synchronized sound and

intricately choreographed

sequences using crane and

dolly shots.


Disney’s Fantasia becomes the

first commercial feature film

to be released in stereo sound.

During the title’s roadshow

release, the technology, called

Fantasound, proves expensive

and time consuming to install.

It would take over a decade

to be widely adopted by the



Alfred Hitchcock’s Blackmail,

released in both sound and

silent formats, is a breakout

box office hit in the United



The commercial and critical

success of MGM’s The Wizard

of Oz paves a golden-brick road

for the future adoption of color

film in Hollywood.

Winter 2020




Competition from television

helps drive color films and

wide-screen formats in

Hollywood. Cinerama, which

employs the use of three

projectors to create a triptych

presentation on a panoramic

screen, becomes a pioneer in

premium large-format (PLF)



Wide-screen format

CinemaScope is introduced

with the release of 20th Century

Fox’s The Robe. Competing

technologies, including Hong

Kong’s ShawScope and Japan’s

TohoScope, would also emerge

in major foreign markets

through the second half of

the ’50s.


The Todd-AO nonanamorphic


format makes its debut

with RKO’s musical



The stereoscopic 3-D craze kicks

off with the release of high-profile

titles from Hollywood studios.

3-D is employed across diverse

genres by nearly every major

studio in Hollywood, including

Columbia (Man in the Dark,

Fort Ti), Warner Bros. (House of

Wax), Fox (Inferno), MGM (Kiss

Me Kate), and Universal (It Came

from Outer Space).


VistaVision joins the widescreen

wars with the release of

Paramount’s White Christmas.

The format’s influence would

linger for decades and would

then be retooled to aid in

the special effects–laden

production of the original Star

Wars trilogy.

70 Winter 2020


Panavision begins introducing

an array of wide-screen

formats. Non-anamorphic

formats like Super Panavision

70 and Ultra Panavision 70

help further the footprint and

appeal of wide-screen cinema

in the ensuing years.


Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo

becomes the first American

feature film to use computer

animation. Experimental

animator John Whitney

produced spiral animations for

the opening credits by rigging

up a computerized animation

stand using a WWII antiaircraftgun



Columbia’s The Tingler

introduces an early experiment

in the field of immersive seating

with Percepto, wherein seats in

select theaters were equipped

with a small electronic motor

that would activate at specific

moments in the film. It would

take nearly 50 years for the

concept to be embraced by

mainstream cinema chains.


With early experiments

in motion seating and

stereoscopic 3-D already under

way, scented screenings hit the

big screen through the use of

gimmick-driven technologies

like Smell-O-Vision and

AromaRama. Neither format

takes off with audiences.


Dolby Laboratories

(Dolby) is founded in

London by Ray Dolby

(above). One year later,

the company introduces

A-type noise reduction for

music recording.

Winter 2020




A Clockwork Orange

becomes the first film

to use Dolby noise



Dolby introduces Dolby

Stereo, a highly practical

35 mm stereo optical

release print format

with the release of Ken

Russell’s Lisztomania,

the first feature film for

general release with this



The first batch of films using

Steadicam cameras hits U.S.

cinemas. Titles like Bound

for Glory, Marathon Man,

and Rocky are among the

first notable films to use the

motion-stabilizing technology

in select sequences, allowing

greater tracking and

movement within the frame.


Dolby receives acclaim

with the release of Star

Wars and Close Encounters

of the Third Kind, both in

Dolby Stereo.


Dolby Laboratories

receives the Academy

of Motion Picture Arts

and Sciences’ Scientific

and Engineering Award

for “improved film

sound recording and

reproduction system.”

In the same year, Dolby

applies noise-reduction

techniques to the

magnetic soundtracks

on 70 mm film, allowing

Apocalypse Now to reap

the full benefits of 5.1

surround sound.

72 Winter 2020


TRON, featuring an extended

sequence using only computer

graphics imaging (CGI), as well

as several scenes that mix CGI

with live-action performances,

becomes a box office hit. The

title’s success encourages the

future adoption of CGI by

major studio productions.


Batman Returns, the first

film released in Dolby

Digital, premieres in 10

U.S. theaters.


Star Wars: Episode I — The

Phantom Menace becomes

the first studio feature film

to be projected digitally to

a moviegoing audience,

signaling the start of an

industry-wide shift to digital

projection technology.


Ray Dolby and Ioan Allen

are awarded Oscars for

“continuing contributions

to motion picture sound

through the research and

development programs of

Dolby Laboratories.”


Pixar’s Toy Story, released

by Disney, becomes the first

fully CGI-animated full-length

feature film. The title is a box

office success, changing the

course of animated film.

Winter 2020




The number of cinemas

equipped with Dolby

Digital totals more than

30,000, surpassing all other

formats in North America

alone and worldwide.


3-D returns to the cinema

as Disney’s Chicken Little

introduces digital 3-D into the

market and opens the door to a

slew of titles—and competing

technologies—to movie

theaters worldwide.


Immersive seating technology

moves beyond its humble

origins as an exhibition

gimmick, with studio support

from titles such as Universal’s

Fast & Furious helping redefine

the role and potential of

motion seating at the movies.


Universal’s Apollo 13 (1995)

is the first studio title to be

digitally remastered and

rereleased in Imax, renewing

consumer demand for premium

large-format Hollywood films.


20th Century Fox releases

James Cameron’s Avatar.

Featuring cutting-edge digital

cinema technology—including

digital 3-D—the film breaks

box office records worldwide

and cements the future

dominance of digital cinema.

74 Winter 2020


Dolby Surround 7.1 is

unveiled with the release

of Disney/Pixar’s Toy

Story 3, advancing cinema

audio with eight discrete

channels to establish four

surround zones within an



Dolby launches Dolby Atmos,

a new audio technology that

changes the experience of

sound in entertainment, with

the debut of Disney/Pixar’s

Brave. This new platform

introduces two important

concepts to cinema sound:

audio objects and overhead



Digital cinema projection

experiences its first major

evolution with the advent of

laser projectors.


Panoramic screens make

a comeback in the digitalcinema

era. 20th Century

Fox’s The Maze Runner is the

first title from a major studio

to use a three-screen digital

panoramic setup. Competing

formats emerge to stake a

claim in the increasingly

competitive premium largeformat

market, with Dolby

Atmos object-based audio as

the preferred choice.


Dolby launches Dolby

Cinema, a premium

moviegoing offering

combining Dolby Vision

with Dolby Atmos and

a thoughtfully designed

auditorium for an

unparalleled cinematic

experience. Dolby Vision

technology offers a dual

4K laser high dynamic

range (HDR) projector

system boasting a picture

twice as bright with 500

times the contrast ratio,

blacker blacks, and an

unsurpassed color palette.

This move fortifies the

growing PLF market for

the exhibition industry.

Tomorrowland is the first

film to use both Dolby

Vision and Dolby Atmos.

Winter 2020






Dolby Cinema


Dolby Cinema locations open

across the globe, with over

200 additional locations



theatrical titles mastered in

Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos

have been released in Dolby

Cinema with participation

from every major studio.

Dolby Atmos


Dolby Atmos screens installed

or committed in 90+ countries.


Dolby and Wanda

Cinema Line announce

a partnership to bring

the first Dolby Cinema

locations to China.


Dolby and Odeon Cinemas

Group announce a

partnership to bring Dolby

Cinema to the U.K. Dolby

is also chosen as exclusive

partner to debut Bradley

Cooper’s directorial debut,

A Star is Born, at Dolby

Cinema locations.


1,700+ features released or

committed in Dolby Atmos.


Dolby and Les Cinémas

Gaumont Pathé announce

a partnership to launch

Dolby Cinema locations

in France and the

Netherlands. Dolby opens

the 100th Dolby Cinema

location in the world.


Dolby announces

partnerships with

Megabox, AMC Theatres,

and muvi Cinemas to

expand Dolby Cinema into

Korea and the Kingdom of

Saudi Arabia.

76 Winter 2020






Innovation is at the heart of any

successful industry, and exhibition

is no exception. That’s why RCM Media,

the company that helped revolutionize the

world of concessions merchandise, has

kept working to bring new products into

the industry over the last two decades.

“It’s been nearly thirty years since the

introduction of Movie Graphic Collectible

popcorn tubs into the market, but it still

seems like yesterday,” says Jim McGinness,

CEO and Co-Founder of RCM Media.

The industry has undergone several

changes in that interim, which is why RCM

Executive Vice President and Co-Founder

Mark Osborn made sure to add “When we

started RCM, we added ‘Media’ to our name

because it was always our ambition to be

more than a concessions supplier. “At the

heart of our business, we are specialists at

building and executing integrated theater

marketing and media campaigns with

Hollywood’s biggest studios for movie

theaters across the nation.”

That innovative spirit continues to this

day, with the launch of RCM Live, a new

division dedicated to digital marketing

initiatives. “It’s a new world out there,

and RCM wants to be at the forefront of

technology. That’s why we’re launching

our new 360 contactless app this Fall,

right as theaters welcome back audiences,”

says Rick Vegaz, VP of Marketing and

Digital Technology.

Using the app, audiences can access

movie trailers, reserve seats, purchase

tickets, and even buy all their concessions

items right from their phone. Theaters

looking for a contactless and cashless

solution can also feature RCM’s movie

branded concessions merchandise is

available through the app, allowing

operators to upsell and generate ancillary

revenue during this critical time.

“That’s the beauty of our 360 App,”

says Vegaz. “We can change concessions,

promotional items, and pricing tiers at

the flip of a switch—just like with a digital

menu board.”






Open your phone's camera or

QR Code scanner. Then tap

the link to launch in Chrome

or Safari.


Allow permissions to activate

the experience.


Once the camera is open,

hover over the film stills

containing this image to

access additional content.

Using the app, audiences

can access movie trailers,

reserve seats, purchase

tickets, and even buy all

their concessions items

right from their phone.

Scan here

Scan this QR code to check

out the 360 App for yourself!

Promising Young Woman 80 | Nomadland 84 | Coming Attractions 90 | Booking Guide 97



In Theaters on December 4

Story on Page 84

Winter 2020






Emerald Fennell Directs Carey

Mulligan in Focus Features’

Candy-Colored Thriller,

Promising Young Woman


80 Winter 2020

Carey Mulligan has an eye

out for trouble in Promising

Young Woman

“Every week I go to a club. I act like

I’m too drunk to stand. And every

week a ‘nice guy’ comes over to see if I’m

OK.” So speaks Cassie of Promising Young

Woman, the debut feature of writer-director

Emerald Fennell. Years ago, Cassie

dropped out of med school following

the assault of a friend; now her weekend

hobby is showing an endless parade of

dudes how very, very wrong they are in

taking a “drunk” woman home and trying

to get into her pants. But there’s a twist:

the arrival into her life of ex-classmate

Ryan (Bo Burnham) brings the possibility

for healing, along with unresolved feelings

about the event that left her traumatized.

A new mission emerges.

Candy-colored and unabashedly girly

in its aesthetic, Promising Young Woman

offers a welcome take on the revenge

thriller, switching out the raw violence

common to the genre for a more nuanced

interrogation of the pervasive culture

of sexual harassment. In advance of the

film’s December 25 release from Focus

Features, Fennell took the time to speak

about her debut feature—starting with an

unabashed love-fest for her lead actress.

Congratulations on the film. I’ll see

Carey Mulligan in just about anything.

So I was excited for this, and it didn’t


Oh, she’s amazing.

I read somewhere that you thought

there was no way in hell you’d get her

for this film.

Oh God, no, of course not! She’s Carey

Mulligan! She’s incredibly selective about

what she does and who she works with,

so I really didn’t think I stood much of a

chance. Luckily, I somehow managed to

persuade her. And I’m so, so glad, because

I really do think she’s the backbone of all

of this. She grounds the characters in such

truth. It’s a heightened movie, and it’s a

heightened experience, and it needed that.

That’s one of the things I like about

the film: its groundedness. You see

Cassie wrestling with her trauma and

trying to get better, as opposed to

just going on a killing spree.

The revenge movie is a genre that I

absolutely love, but I think it’s also ripe for

subversion. Also, I don’t know any women

who resort to violence, really. It’s very

rare. And so I wanted to write a revenge

movie that was honest about the process

of grieving and the process of trauma. And

also honest about how a woman might

teach lessons or frighten people. What she

does is still very dangerous to herself, and

I think possibly that might even be part of

why she does it. It struck me that I’d never

seen a movie like this with a character who

felt like she might do something that a real

woman might do.

So many revenge movies are escapist,

in a way. Men get away with awful

things all the time in the real world,

and in revenge movies, they get

brutally murdered for it.

It’s escapist, and it’s cathartic. And it’s

effective. But it’s not honest or real. This

movie was about taking those things that

are so appealing to us as audience members—so

neat and tidy—and pulling them

apart and looking at them. For me—the

same as in “Killing Eve”—if you’re going

to have violence in a movie, you need to be

honest about what violence looks like and

what it is. You have an obligation to show it

in a way that feels real. We’re so immune to

violence. When you show what it looks like,

really, it’s much more uncomfortable than

the almost titillating violence that I think

we’re used to on TV and in film. [Fennell

was the show runner and head writer for

season two of the acclaimed BBC show

“Killing Eve.”] There’s a scene in “Killing

Eve” when Eve kills for the first time with

an ax. It’s kind of horrific. I just didn’t want

it to be a moment that was like, “OK, gun,

fine.” Imagine actually killing someone

with an ax as a woman who’d never killed

someone before. It’s always looking at

these things that we’re used to and saying,

“OK, what actually would you feel like?” I

don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say

that when there is violence in this film, it

is troubling. As it should be.

Some of the things that Cassie does

are uncomfortable to watch. You’re

like, “No, no, what are you doing?”

The power that women have is to frighten.

That’s what she does. She is frightening. I

didn’t want to shy away from that, from

the fact that some of the decisions she

makes aren’t nice or good. Because she’s

so angry. But it was important to me

nevertheless that things aren’t quite what

they seem, that she’s very particular and

careful about the smoke and mirrors that

she puts in place.

Winter 2020



Far right: Carey Mulligan

and Bo Burnham groove to

the musical stylings of Paris

Hilton in Promising Young


Below: Director of

photography Benjamin

Kracun (far left) and writerdirector

Emerald Fennell

(center) with actors Sam

Richardson and Carey


Bottom: Writer-director

Emerald Fennell consults with

(l–r) Carey Mulligan, Laverne

Cox, and Bo Burnham.

The rape culture scenarios this movie

confronts—I don’t want to say they’re

in the “gray zone,” because they are

absolutely wrong, but they’re these

situations where a lot of people

still look at them and say, “Well, no,

that wasn’t really rape. She was just


This conversation has been going on for a

really long time. It’s still something that is

completely pervasive everywhere. It was

really important to me, making this film, to

first say, “Where have I contributed to this

culture? What jokes have I laughed at? What

movie scenes have I laughed at? How have

I not supported friends in ways that they

may have needed supporting?” If you’re

going to make a film about this kind of stuff,

you have to really look at yourself first.

Every single person in this film thinks

they’re right. Even the really bad people

who did the really bad thing [to Cassie’s

best friend]. The thing that was important

to me was that nobody is arguing that

the bad thing [didn’t happen]. They just

interpreted it very, very differently. They

say it was consensual and fun. And isn’t

that always the case? It’s something I was

really interested in: So rarely do people say,

“No, that didn’t happen!” They say, “Oh, no,

it did happen, but not like she said it did.”

And that’s very important. When writing

it I had to make sure that none of the bad

things that happen in this film we haven’t

laughed at in comedy movies of the last

15 years. Jokes about girls being drunk or

taking dogs home.

The truth of it is that you also have to

be open-minded and forgiving, as well.

Our culture changes, and we change with

it. That’s how everything gets better. This

film is about people who refuse to admit

and refuse to change. Cassie comes along,

and she has two hands open. One has

forgiveness and one has punishment. And

she always offers both at the beginning.

Every conversation she has with people,

she’s offering forgiveness if they acknowledge

and apologize.

Are you having these conversations

with your actors?

Totally. Everyone who really wanted to

be a part of this movie was very open

and honest. And I think everyone who’s

seen it, and everyone who’s read it, was

like “Oh, God. Oh, shit. This is so much

a part of the culture.” We all had really

proper, nuanced discussions about it. But

the thing for me with everyone was: You

are not a bad person. You woke up this

morning knowing in your heart you are a

good person. And somebody has turned

up and is telling you you’re not. So what

do you do? What would any of us do in

that situation? It could be about anything.

It’s being confronted with a truth that

you’re not willing to recognize. And that

is true just as much for Cassie. Because

when she’s confronted by something she’s

done, you can see the horror. She’s not

immune to it.

Was there a particular event that

led you to write this film? Or was it a

culmination of all these discussions

that have been taking place over the

last handful of years?

82 Winter 2020

It wasn’t inspired by [the last few years],

really, because I started writing it before.

It’s something that my friends and I had

been discussing since we were at college

ourselves. The curtain’s been opened,

and the light’s shining on how pervasive

this culture is. It’s something I’ve been

very, very interested in for a long time.

Particularly this idea of one specific part of

our culture, which is the use of alcohol and

drugs in seduction, which remains still a

huge part of the way that people operate.

People who would never think themselves

bad people. I was wanting to make a film

that would be compelling in its own right,

but also underneath would want people to

examine something deeper.

It’s definitely a discussion-sparker.

I assume it’s done that at screenings

so far?

Yeah, it has. Also, from a filmmaking point

of view, it’s been really interesting seeing

how people interpret different facets of

it: the set design, the music choices, the

casting, the costume design. All this is

stuff that we really, really put such great,

great care in. What’s so nice is people have

really responded to this stuff as well. And

that’s nice, because it’s the stuff of making

things that’s so pleasurable, as well as

obviously writing the script and telling

the story.

I’ll be honest: When I watched

the trailer, a lot of those design

elements—the colors, the music, the

girly aesthetic of it—made me think it

would be a different film than it was.

I liked what I saw! But it was a lot

more nuanced than what I expected

it would be.

The whole idea of the movie was to beckon

people in. Beckon and beckon them into

a sort of fun, schlocky [atmosphere].

And then lock them in! And not let them

out. That’s the experience I want when

I go to the movies—to be surprised and

challenged in every way.

For me, what I was trying to do was

to have that sense of things dawning on

us at different times. It’s seeing people

suddenly realize that they’re listening to

Paris Hilton [her song “Stars are Blind” is

featured in a scene] or recognizing [a]

Britney Spears [song], slowed down. The

clothes seem so enticing and feminine.

But actually, they are hiding something

incendiary and frightening. [Cassie is]

actually using them as a clever disguise. I

wanted it to be surprising. For my personal

taste, I like things that are ultra, ultra,

ultra-feminine, but also kind of uncanny.

Also a bit odd or too much.

What are some of your favorite

movies that have surprised you in

that way?

Most recently, Get Out and Parasite, for

their sense of “I really don’t know where

this journey is going, but I’m loving it.”

Films like American Psycho and To Die

For. Macabre humor that looks beautiful.

Anything by Paul Thomas Anderson.

Trojan horse cinema.

That’s it. A Trojan unicorn. That’s the best,

all of it! The kind of woman that Cassie

is projecting is the ultimate Trojan horse.

She uses her blondness and her whiteness

and her sweetness to a very clever respect,

which makes her very dangerous. I’m

interested in the ways that women can be


Winter 2020



84 Winter 2020




Chloé Zhao Takes to the Great Outdoors with Nomadland BY REBECCA PAHLE

Winter 2020



Covid-19 has turned the film world

topsy-turvy, but awards season

rumbles on—with Oscar hopefuls filling

the schedules of festivals that have had to

adjust to a worldwide pandemic. Near the

top of the list in terms of awards buzz is

Searchlight Pictures’ release Nomadland,

in theaters December 4. The film’s

director, Chloé Zhao—an indie favorite

whose 2017 drama The Rider received four

nominations at the 2018 Independent

Spirit Awards—has already been tapped

by Disney to direct their 2021 MCU

installment The Eternals. For the moment,

though, she remains firmly associated

with smaller, more intimate stories about

people yearning for meaning and purpose

in the American West.

Born in Beijing, Zhao subsequently

moved to L.A., New York, and London—

but, “I think it’s when I hit my late 20s

[that] I felt something was missing. And

that got me to go west to South Dakota,

from New York,” she recalled in a press

conference at the New York Film Festival,

where Nomadland was a Centerpiece

Selection. “It’s this feeling of, ‘Why are

we here? What’s the meaning of it all?’ I

“It’s this feeling of, ‘Why

are we here? What’s the

meaning of it all?’ I didn’t

really think about that

when I was younger.”

86 Winter 2020

didn’t really think about that when I was

younger.” The enormity and age of the

landscapes impressed upon Zhao a sense

of the profound: “You look up [and] see

that lightning storm coming, [and] you

understand where the Lakotas’ thunder

god, the Great Spirit, [might have]

come from. That’s something I didn’t

understand when I was growing up. It

made me who I am as a filmmaker today.”

In Nomadland, Zhao and her small

crew roved around much of America to tell

the story of Fern (Frances McDormand),

a modern-day nomad who takes to van

living after the Great Recession leaves

her jobless and her small town wiped

from the map—it literally loses its ZIP

Code. The odd recognizable face peppers

the cast—McDormand and co-star David

Strathairn mix seamlessly with the real-life

van dwellers playing themselves. Producer

Peter Spears (Call Me by Your Name), upon

reading the nonfiction book Nomadland is

based on (by Jessica Bruder, who co-wrote

the script with Zhao), initially envisioned

the movie as something more like a biopic,

with McDormand playing Linda May, one of

the main subjects of Bruder’s book. “About

that time, Frances was at the Toronto Film

Festival with Three Billboards. And she sort

of slipped away from press responsibilities.

She saw The Rider. And she texted me. ‘I

think I may have just seen the person who’s

going to be perfect for this movie.’” It was

Zhao who had the “spark,” recalls Spears,

that Nomadland “would not necessarily be

just this idea of turning Linda May’s life into

a cinematic treatment, but that she want[ed]

to explore something even deeper and larger,

and the landscape of that.”

Fern, traveling through vistas that cry

out for the big screen, finds new friends

Star Frances

McDormand (left),

with director Chloé

Zhao (right, top), and

Zhao and director of

photography Joshua

James Richards (right)

on the Nomadland set

Winter 2020



Left: Chloé Zhao (top),

and with Frances

McDormand (below),

masked up for the Los

Angeles premiere of

Nomadland. Many of

the film’s real-life stars

(and their vans) were

in attendance at the

drive-in screening.

Right: Frances

McDormand’s Fern

takes in the majesty

of the American

countryside in


and mentors in the tight-knit community

of American nomads—people like Linda

May, Bob Wells, and Charlene Swankie,

all playing themselves. The casting fits

perfectly within the filmography of Zhao,

who in her previous two features worked

primarily with nonprofessional actors;

all the same, the successful integration

of nonactors with their A-list leading

lady required some threading the needle

from McDormand, also a producer on the

film. “The most important thing” Frances

could do in working with nonprofessional

actors, Zhao says, “is truly be present

and be able to listen to them and guide

them in a way [that isn’t] necessarily, ‘Hey,

you should act this way. Let me tell you

about what I’ve learned [about] acting.’

No. She’s pulling [her scene partner] in

with her ability to engage and her facial

expressions. She’s being sympathetic.

She knows what I want in the scene. She

knows where her character should be. So

she’s really reacting.”

The crew, too, integrated themselves

into the van-dwelling community—

“Sharing our lives and eating together and

staying together,” says Spears. “Frances

88 Winter 2020

“She’s being sympathetic.

She knows what I want in

the scene. She knows where

her character should be.

So she’s really reacting.”

—Chloé Zhao

would also stay sometimes in her van,

and Chloé as well. Camping with the

folks we were working with. We really

were embedded amongst them.” The

tables turned sometime later, when

Nomadland had its Los Angeles premiere

at the Telluride Film Festival. A typical

stop on the film festival calendar for

award hopefuls, Telluride canceled its

2020 film festival but hosted a special

“Telluride from Los Angeles” screening for

Nomadland, with several of its subjects/

stars in attendance. “I think they were

very moved by the experience,” says

Spears. “They came up onstage and spoke

afterwards to the people there.” Getting

the theatrical experience from their cars,

the festivalgoers honked their horns and

flashed their lights in a show of support

for the film and its co-stars, who “spoke

very eloquently about their experiences

both in the movie and [outside] of the

movie. It’s an experience all of us there

won’t ever forget.”

Winter 2020





All release dates subject to change. Dates are accurate as of October 30.


December 25 / Focus Features

Everyone said Cassie (Carey Mulligan) was a

promising young woman—until a mysterious

event abruptly derailed her future. But nothing

in Cassie’s life is what it appears to be: She’s

wickedly smart, tantalizingly cunning, and

she’s living a secret double life by night. Now,

an unexpected encounter is about to give

Cassie a chance to right the wrongs of the past.

Cast: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Laverne Cox,

Alison Brie, Connie Britton

Director: Emerald Fennell

Genre: Suspense, Thriller

Rating: TBD

Running Time: 113 min.

Watch trailer


Winter 2020


December 4 / Searchlight Studios

Following the economic collapse of a company

town in rural Nevada, Fern (Frances McDormand)

packs her van and sets off on the road to explore a

life outside conventional society as a modern-day

nomad. The third feature film from director Chloé

Zhao, Nomadland features real nomads Linda May,

Charlene Swankie, and Bob Wells as Fern’s mentors

and comrades in her exploration through the vast

landscape of the American West.

Cast: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn,

Linda May, Charlene Swankie, Bob Wells

Director: Chloé Zhao

Genre: Drama

Rating: R

Running Time: 108 min.


December 18 / Sony Pictures Classics

Anthony is 80, mischievous, living defiantly alone,

and rejecting the caretakers that his daughter, Anne,

encouragingly introduces. Yet help is also becoming

a necessity for Anne; she can’t make daily visits

anymore, and Anthony’s grip on reality is unraveling.

As his memory ebbs and flows, how much of his own

identity and past can Anthony cling to? How does

Anne cope as she grieves the loss of her father, while

he still lives and breathes before her?

Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman

Director: Florian Zeller

Genre: Drama

Rating: TBD

Running Time: 97 min.


December 25 / Sony Pictures Classics

In the secret forests of northwest Italy, a dwindling

group of joyful old men and their faithful dogs hunt

for the world’s most expensive ingredient: the white

Alba truffle. This real-life fairy tale celebrates human

passion in a community struggling to protect its

fragile land and a way of life forgotten in time.

Cast: Carlo Gonella, Aurelio Conterno, Angelo Gagliardi

Directors: Michael Dweck, Gregory Kershaw

Genre: Documentary

Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 84 min.

Winter 2020




December 25 / Universal

Five years after the end of the Civil War, Captain

Jefferson Kyle Kidd (Tom Hanks) crosses paths

with Johanna (Helena Zengel), a 10-year-old

taken in by the Kiowa tribe six years earlier and

raised as one of their own. Johanna, hostile to a

world she’s never experienced, is being returned

to her biological aunt and uncle against her will.

Kidd agrees to deliver the child where the law

says she belongs. As they travel hundreds of miles

into the unforgiving wilderness, the two will

face tremendous challenges of both human and

natural forces as they search for a place that either

can call home.

Cast: Tom Hanks, Helena Zengel

Director: Paul Greengrass

Genre: Drama, Western

Rating: TBD

Running Time: TBD


December 25 / Warner Bros.

Fast forward to the 1980s as Wonder Woman’s (Gal

Gadot) next big screen adventure finds her facing an

all-new foe: the Cheetah (Kristen Wiig).

Cast: Gal Gadot, Kristen Wiig, Chris Pine, Pedro Pascal

Director: Patty Jenkins

Genre: Action

Rating: PG-13

Running Time: TBD

Watch trailer

92 Winter 2020


December 30 / Sony

Behind our world, there is another: a world of dangerous

and powerful monsters that rule their domain

with deadly ferocity. When Lt. Artemis (Milla Jovovich)

and her loyal soldiers are transported from our

world to the new world, the unflappable lieutenant

receives the shock of her life. In her desperate battle

for survival against enormous enemies with incredible

powers and unstoppable, terrifying attacks, Artemis

will team up with a mysterious man (Tony Jaa) who

has found a way to fight back.

Cast: Milla Jovovich, Tony Jaa, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Meagan Good,

Diego Bonet, Josh Helman, Jin Au-Yeung, Ron Perlman

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Genre: Sci-Fi Fantasy

Rating: TBD

Running Time: TBD

Watch trailer

Winter 2020 93


Watch trailer



January 15 / Sony

In Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, the lovable

rogue is back. Bea, Thomas, and the rabbits have

created a makeshift family, but despite his best

efforts, Peter can’t seem to shake his mischievous

reputation. Adventuring out of the garden, Peter

finds himself in a world where his mischief is

appreciated, but when his family risks everything

to come looking for him, Peter must figure out

what kind of bunny he wants to be.

Cast: Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson, Elizabeth Debicki,

Margot Robbie, James Corden, David Oyelowo

Director: Will Gluck

Genre: Family, Action-Adventure

Rating: TBD

Running Time: 85 min.

THE 355

January 15 / Universal

When a top-secret weapon falls into mercenary hands,

wild card CIA agent Mason “Mace” Brown (Jessica

Chastain) will need to join forces with rival badass

German agent Marie (Diane Kruger), former MI6

ally and cutting-edge computer specialist Khadijah

(Lupita Nyong’o), and skilled Colombian psychologist

Graciela (Penelope Cruz) on a lethal, breakneck mission

to retrieve it, while also staying one step ahead

of a mysterious woman, Lin Mi Sheng (Bingbing Fan),

who is tracking their every move.

Cast: Jessica Chastain, Diane Kruger, Lupita Nyong’o,

Penelope Cruz, Bingbing Fan

Director: Simon Kinberg

Genre: Action-Adventure

Rating: PG-13

Running Time: TBD

94 Winter 2020

Big screen.

Bigger cause.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® is

leading the way the world understands,

treats and defeats childhood cancer and

other life-threatening diseases. But, we

couldn’t do it without you. By donating

pre-show advertising to screen the annual

St. Jude Thanks and Giving® movie trailer,

you support our lifesaving mission: Finding

cures. Saving children.® The generosity of

you and your patrons helps ensure that

families never receive a bill from St. Jude

for treatment, travel, housing or food—

because all a family should worry about is

helping their child live.

St. Jude patient


Art inspired by St. Jude patient Jaden

For more information, please email

chance.weaver@stjude.org or visit stjude.org/theaters

©2020 ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (PRNS1692)

96 Winter 2020




Release calendar for theatrical

distribution in North America

Release dates are accurate as of November 9. For the latest

schedule, visit www.boxofficepro.com/release-calendar.





Fri, 2/12/21 WIDE

Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Rating: NR

Genre: Act



Fri, 2/26/21 WIDE

Stars: Max Harwood,

Sarah Lancashire

Director: Jonathan Butterell

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra/Mus


Fri, 4/9/21 LTD

Stars: H. Jon Benjamin, Kristen Schaal

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani


Fri, 12/10/21 WIDE

Stars: Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler

Director: Steven Spielberg

Rating: NR

Genre: Mus



Fri, 12/4/20 LTD

Stars: Rachel Brosnahan, Marsha

Stephanie Blake

Director: Julia Hart

Rating: R

Genre: Dra


Fri, 12/25/20 LTD

Stars: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree

Director: Regina King

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra/Bio



Fri, 12/11/20 LTD

Stars: Emily Blunt, Jamie Dornan

Director: John Patrick Shanley

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Dra/Rom



Ask for Distribution


Fri, 3/12/21 WIDE

Stars: Awkwafina, Cassie Steele

Directors: Paul Briggs, Dean Wellins

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani

Specs: 3-D


Fri, 5/7/21 WIDE

Stars: Scarlett Johansson,

David Harbour

Director: Cate Shortland

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Adv

Specs: 3-D


Fri, 5/28/21 WIDE

Stars: Emma Stone, Emma


Director: Craig Gillespie

Rating: NR

Genre: Com


Fri, 6/18/21 WIDE

Director: Enrico Casarosa

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani


Fri, 4/23/21 WIDE

Directors: Alessandro Carloni, J.P. Vine

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani


Fri, 8/13/21 WIDE

Stars: Ana de Armas, Ben Affleck

Directors: Adrian Lyne

Rating: NR

Genre: Thr


Fri, 9/10/21 WIDE

Rating: NR


Fri, 10/15/21 WIDE

Rating: NR


Fri, 12/3/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

The King's Man

Fri, 2/12/21 WIDE

Winter 2020




Fri, 1/29/21 LTD

Stars: Shahab Hosseini, Niousha


Director: Kourosh Ahari

Rating: NR

Genre: Hor


Fri, 2/5/21 LTD

Stars: Olivia Cooke, Jack O'Connell

Director: Chad Hartigan

Rating: NR

Genre: SF/Rom


Fri, 2/19/21 LTD

Stars: Isla Fisher, Dan Stevens

Director: Edward Hall

Rating: NR

Genre: Com

Half Brothers

Fri, 12/4/20 WIDE



Fri, 7/9/21 WIDE

Stars: Simu Liu, Awkwafina

Director: Destin Daniel Cretton

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Adv/Fan


Fri, 7/30/21 WIDE

Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Adv

Specs: Dolby Vis/Atmos


Fri, 8/27/21 WIDE

Director: Peter Jackson

Rating: NR

Genre: Doc


Fri, 11/5/21 WIDE

Stars: Richard Madden,

Angelina Jolie

Director: Chloé Zhao

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Adv/SF


Fri, 11/24/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani


Fri, 12/17/21 WIDE

Rating: NR



Fri, 3/25/22 WIDE

Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch

Director: Sam Raimi

Rating: NR

Genre: SF/Fan/Adv



Fri, 12/4/20 WIDE

Stars: Luis Gerard Méndez,

Connor Del Rio

Director: Luke Greenfield

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Com


Fri, 12/25/20 WIDE

Stars: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham

Director: Emerald Fennell

Rating: NR

Genre: Com/Dra


Fri, 2/23/21 LTD

Stars: Clayne Crawford, Sepideh


Director: Robert Machoian

Rating: NR

Genre: Thr


Fri, 4/23/21 LTD

Stars: Anya Taylor-Joy, Thomasin

Harcourt McKenzie

Director: Edgar Wright

Rating: NR

Genre: Hor/Thr

Specs: Dolby Vis/Atmos


Fri, 6/25/21 WIDE

Stars: Justin Chon, Alicia Vikander

Director: Justin Chon

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra




Fri, 12/4/20 LTD

Director: Dana Nachman

Rating: NR

Genre: Doc


Fri, 12/11/20 LTD

Stars: Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine,

Zainab Jah

Director: Ekwa Msangi

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra


Fri, 12/18/20 LTD

Stars: Camille Sullivan, Devon Sawa

Director: Shawn Linden

Rating: NR

Genre: Hor


Fri, 1/15/21 LTD

Director: Sam Pollard

Rating: NR

Genre: Doc


Fri, 1/22/21 LTD

Stars: Frank Grillo, Andie MacDowell

Director: Conor Allyn

Rating: NR

Genre: Wes


Fri, 2/26/21 LTD

Stars: Dave Davis, Menashe Lustig

Director: Keith Thomas

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Hor




Fri, 1/8/21 WIDE

Stars: Virginia Madsen, Ben Cross

Director: Daniel Stamm

Rating: NR

Genre: Hor


Fri, 1/22/21 WIDE

Stars: Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley

Director: Doug Liman

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Adv/SF



Fri, 3/19/21 WIDE

Stars: Nicolas Cage

Director: Tom Gormican

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Com


Fri, 4/23/21 WIDE

Stars: Maggie Q, Samuel L. Jackson

Director: Martin Campbell

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Thr


Fri, 5/21/21 WIDE

Stars: Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson

Director: Darren Lynn Bousman

Rating: NR

Genre: Hor

98 Winter 2020



Fri, 7/16/21 WIDE

Stars: Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo

Director: Josh Greenbaum

Rating: NR

Genre: Com


Fri, 8/20/21 WIDE

Stars: Ryan Reynolds,

Samuel L. Jackson

Director: Patrick Hughes

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Com



Fri, 12/10/21 WIDE

Directors: Jon Erwin, Andrew Erwin

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra


Fri, 5/27/22 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Act



Neal Block



Fri, 11/20/20 LTD

Director: Alexander Nanau

Rating: NR

Genre: Doc


Fri, 11/27/20 LTD

Director: Alex Winter

Rating: NR

Genre: Doc



Fri, 12/4/20 LTD

Director: Julien Temple

Rating: NR

Genre: Doc


Fri, 12/11/20 LTD

Stars: Dennis To

Director: Li Liming

Rating: NR

Genre: Act




Fri, 12/18/20 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Com



Fri, 2/12/21 WIDE

Director: Lee Daniels

Rating: NR

Genre: Bio/Dra



Fri, 2/16/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Thr


Fri, 4/23/21 WIDE

Stars: Emily Blunt, Cillian Murphy

Director: John Krasinski

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Hor


Fri, 5/14/21 WIDE

Stars: Will Arnett, Terry Crews

Director: Hamish Grieve

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani


Fri, 5/28/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: SF


Fri, 6/4/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Act


Fri, 7/2/21 WIDE

Stars: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller

Director: Joseph Kosinski

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Adv

Specs: Imax/Dolby Vis/Atmos


Fri, 7/23/21 WIDE

Stars: Yvonne Strahovski, Chris Pratt

Director: Chris McKay

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/SF


Fri, 8/20/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani


Fri, 9/3/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Com


Fri, 9/24/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani

Projectors Audio Servers


Screens Drapery

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Winter 2020




Fri, 10/22/21 WIDE

Stars: Henry Golding, Andrew Koj

Director: Robert Schwentke

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Adv


Fri, 11/5/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Fam


Fri, 11/19/21 WIDE

Stars: Tom Cruise

Director: Christopher McQuarrie

Rating: NR

Genre: Act


Fri, 12/25/21 WIDE

Director: Damien Chazelle

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra




Fri, 1/29/21 WIDE

Stars: Rose Reid, Jedidiah Goodacre

Director: Brian Baugh

Rating: NR

Genre: Rom




Fri, 12/4/20 LTD

Stars: Diane Keaton, Jeremy Irons

Director: Dennis Dugan

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Rom/Com


Fri, 12/11/20 LTD

Stars: Drew Barrymore, Michael Zegen

Director: Jamie Babbit

Rating: R

Genre: Com


Fri, 12/18/20 LTD

Stars: Alicia Silverstone,

Tom Everett Scott

Director: Amy Miller Gross

Rating: R

Genre: Rom/Com




Fri, 12/4/20 LTD

Stars: Frances McDormand, Linda May

Director: Chloé Zhao

Rating: R

Genre: Dra


Fri, 2/19/21 LTD

Stars: Keri Russell, Jesse Plemons

Director: Scott Cooper

Rating: R

Genre: Hor




Wed, 12/30/20 WIDE

Stars: Milla Jovovich, Tony Jaa

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Fan


Fri, 1/15/21 WIDE

Stars: James Corden, Rose Byrne

Director: Will Gluck

Rating: PG

Genre: Ani


Fri, 2/5/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Fan


Fri, 6/11/21 WIDE

Stars: Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard

Director: Jason Reitman

Rating: NR

Genre: Hor/Com/SF


Fri, 3/19/21 WIDE

Stars: Jared Leto, Matt Smith

Director: Daniel Espinosa

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Thr/SF


Fri, 4/2/21 WIDE

Stars: Kevin Hart, Melody Hurd

Director: Paul Weitz

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra


Fri, 6/4/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani


Fri, 6/25/21 WIDE

Stars: Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson

Director: Andy Serkis

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/SF

100 Winter 2020


Fri, 7/16/21 WIDE

Stars: Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Adv


Fri, 8/6/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani/Com


Fri, 8/13/21 WIDE

Director: Rodo Sayagues

Rating: NR

Genre: Hor


Fri, 9/17/21 WIDE

Rating: NR NR

Genre: Act/Com



Fri, 12/17/21 WIDE

Stars: Tom Holland

Rating: NR

Genre: Act

I Carry You With Me

Fri, 1/8/20 LTD


Wed, 12/22/21 WIDE

Stars: Dakota Fanning, Elle Fanning

Director: Mélanie Laurent

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra


Tom Prassis



Fri, 11/13/20 LTD

Stars: Michael Covino, Kyle Marvin

Director: Michael Covino

Rating: R

Genre: Dra/Com


Fri, 11/20/20 LTD

Stars: Claes Bang, Guy Pearce

Director: Dan Friedkin

Rating: R

Genre: Dra


Fri, 12/18/20 LTD

Stars: Anthony Hopkins,

Olivia Colman

Director: Florian Zeller

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Dra


Fri, 12/25/20 LTD

Directors: Michael Dweck,

Gregory Kershaw

Rating: PG-13


Fri, 1/8/20 LTD

Stars: Armando Espitia,

Christian Vazquez

Director: Heidi Ewing

Rating: R

Genre: Dra


Fri, 1/22/20 LTD

Stars: Winston Duke, Zazie Beetz

Director: Edson Oda

Rating: R

Genre: Dra


Fri, 1/22/20 LTD

Director: Dror Moreh

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Doc


Fri, 2/12/21 LTD

Stars: Michelle Pfeiffer, Lucas Hedges

Director: Azazel Jacobs

Rating: R

Genre: Dra/Com



Ask for Distribution


Fri, 1/15/21 WIDE

Director: Guy Ritchie

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Thr


Fri, 1/22/21 WIDE

Stars: Allison Janney, Mila Kunis

Director: Tate Taylor

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra


Fri, 2/5/21 WIDE

Stars: Johnny Depp, Jun Kunimura

Director: Andrew Levitas

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra


Fri, 4/2/21 WIDE

Stars: Daniel Craig, Rami Malek

Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Act/Thr

Specs: Imax


Fri, 5/7/21 WIDE

Stars: Channing Tatum

Directors: Reid Carolin,

Channing Tatum

Rating: NR

Genre: Com


Fri, 6/4/21 WIDE

Stars: Sylvester Stallone

Director: Julius Avery

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Thr


Fri, 8/13/21 WIDE

Stars: Jennifer Hudson,

Forest Whitaker

Director: Liesl Tommy

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra/Mus


Fri, 9/24/21 WIDE

Director: David Slade

Rating: NR

Genre: Hor


Fri, 10/8/21 WIDE

Stars: Charlize Theron, Oscar Isaac

Director: Greg Tiernan

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani


Fri, 11/24/21 WIDE

Director: Ridley Scott

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra


Fri, 12/10/21 WIDE

Stars: Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett

Director: Joe Wright

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra/Mus



Winter 2020



The 355

Fri, 1/15/21 WIDE


Fri, 11/13/20 WIDE

Stars: Kathryn Newton, Vince Vaughn

Director: Christopher Landon

Rating: R

Genre: Hor/Com


Wed, 11/25/20 WIDE

Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone

Director: Joel Crawford

Rating: PG

Genre: Ani


Fri, 2/12/21 WIDE

Stars: Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson

Director: Kat Coiro

Rating: NR

Genre: Rom/Com


Fri, 2/19/21 WIDE

Stars: Bob Odenkirk

Director: Ilya Naishuller

Rating: R

Genre: Act/Thr


Fri, 5/28/21 WIDE

Stars: Vin Diesel, Charlize Theron

Director: Justin Lin

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Adv

Specs: Imax/Dolby Vis/Atmos


Fri, 6/10/22 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Adv



Fri, 8/13/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Hor


Fri, 8/27/21 WIDE

Stars: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II,

Teyonah Parris

Director: Nia DaCosta

Rating: R

Genre: Hor


Fri, 12/4/20 WIDE

Stars: Jessica Rothe, Harry Shum Jr

Director: Marc Meyers

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Rom/Com


Fri, 12/25/20 WIDE

Stars: Tom Hanks

Director: Paul Greengrass

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Dra

THE 355

Fri, 1/15/21 WIDE

Stars: Jessica Chastain,

Lupita Nyong’o

Director: Simon Kinberg

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Thr


Fri, 3/5/21 WIDE

Rating: NR


Fri, 3/26/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani


Fri, 4/16/21 WIDE

Stars: Tom Hanks

Director: Miguel Sapochnik

Rating: NR

Genre: SF


Fri, 5/14/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani


Fri, 7/2/21 WIDE

Stars: Steve Carell, Taraji P. Henson

Director: Kyle Balda

Rating: PG

Genre: Ani


Fri, 7/9/21 WIDE

Director: Everardo Gout

Rating: NR

Genre: Hor


Fri, 7/23/21 WIDE

Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Rating: NR

Genre: Thr


Fri, 9/17/21 WIDE

Director: Pierre Perifel

Rating: NR


Fri, 9/24/21 WIDE

Rating: NR


Fri, 10/15/21 WIDE

Director: David Gordon Green

Rating: NR

Genre: Hor


Fri, 12/22/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani/Mus

102 Winter 2020



Fri, 7/22/22 WIDE

Director: Jordan Peele

Rating: NR

Genre: Hor




Fri, 12/25/20 WIDE

Stars: Gal Gadot, Kristen Wiig

Director: Patty Jenkins

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Act/Adv/Fan

Specs: Imax/3-D/Dolby Vis/Atmos


Fri, 1/15/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Act


Fri, 1/29/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Thr


Fri, 3/5/21 WIDE

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Ani


Fri, 3/12/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra/Cri


Fri, 4/16/21 WIDE

Rating: PG-13


Fri, 5/21/21 WIDE

Stars: Millie Bobby Brown,

Eiza González

Director: Adam Wingard

Rating: PG-13

Genre: SF/Act

Specs: Imax/3-D/Dolby Vis/Atmos



Fri, 6/4/21 WIDE

Stars: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga

Director: Michael Chaves

Rating: NR

Genre: Hor

Specs: Dolby Vis/Atmos


Fri, 6/18/21 WIDE

Stars: Anthony Ramos,

Corey Hawkins

Director: Jon M. Chu

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Mus/Rom/Dra


Fri, 7/16/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani/Com


Fri, 8/6/21 WIDE

Stars: Margot Robbie, Taika Waititi

Director: James Gunn

Rating: NR

Genre: Act



Fri, 9/10/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Hor


Fri, 10/1/21 WIDE

Stars: Timothée Chalamet,

Rebecca Ferguson

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Rating: NR

Genre: SF


Fri, 11/5/21 WIDE

Director: Baz Luhrmann

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra/Bio/Mus


Fri, 11/12/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Fan/Act


Fri, 11/19/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra/Bio


Fri, 12/22/21 WIDE

Stars: Keanu Reeves

Director: Lana Wachowski

Rating: NR

Genre: SF


Fri, 1/14/22 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Fam


Fri, 3/4/22 WIDE

Stars: Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz

Director: Matt Reeves

Rating: NR

Genre: Act

















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A JACRO production for over 25 years





from JACRO

1981 JACRO Advert (Landsape) ART.indd 1 16/09/2020 14:17

Winter 2020



Our Sponsors



American Cinema Equip 99

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NEC Display 38

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RCM-Media-I - AD 1, 78

Ready Theater Systems 14

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Image Credits & Acknowledgments

Cover: Photo by Merie Weismiller Wallace/Focus Features.

p5: Photo: Bruce Talamon/Universal Pictures.

p6: Courtesy of Cineplexx.

p11: Image courtesy Marcus Theatres.

p17: Photo © Ingar Johansen.

p18: Photos: Alex Nicoletti and Variety

– the Children’s Charity of the Delaware Valley.

p20-23: Images courtesy Marcus Theatres.

p39: Photo by Nick Simonite, courtesy Alamo Drafthouse.

p40: Image courtesy Alamo Drafthouse.

p41: Photo by Heather Kennedy/Alamo Drafthouse.

p44: Photos by Nick Simonite, courtesy Alamo Drafthouse.

p46: Photo by vgajic

p47: Images courtesy Gold Medal Products

p50: Illustration created by Culture Trip’s

in-house illustrator Sam Peet.

p52: Image courtesy HaloVino.

p53: Image courtesy Marcus Theatres.

p54: Image courtesy Malco Theatres.

p55: Images courtesy Studio Movie Grill

and Nitehawk Cinema.

p56: Image courtesy Showcase Cinemas.

p57: Image courtesy HaloVino.

p58-61: Photos courtesy of Pathé Netherlands.

p62-63: Photos courtesy Muvi Cinemas.

p64-65: Photos courtesy Cineplexx.

p67-76: Images courtesy of Fathom Events/TCM and Dolby.

Public Domain images via Wikipedia.

p79: Photo courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.

p80-81: Image courtesy Focus Features.

p82-83: Images courtesy Merie Weismiller Wallace

/ Focus Features.

p84-85: Photo by Joshua James Richards. © 2020

20th Century Studios, All Rights Reserved.

p86-87: Photo courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2020

20th Century Studios, All Rights Reserved.

p88-89: Photo by Todd Williamson/January Images

and Searchlight Pictures. © 2020 20th Century Studios,

All Rights Reserved.

p90: Photo by Merie Weismiller Wallace/Focus Features.

p91: Photos courtesy of Searchlight Pictures, (Nomadland)

Sean Gleason, courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

(The Father), Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw.

Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics. (The Truffle Hunters)

p92: Photo by Bruce Talamon/Universal Pictures

(News of the World), Photo by Clay Enos & © DC Comics.

© 2020 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., All Rights Reserved.

(Wonder Woman 1984).

p93: Photo by Coco Van Oppens Photography; ©

CONSTANTIN FILM Produktion Services GmbH-

Photos Coco Van Oppens.

p94: Courtesy Sony Pictures. © 2020 CTMG, Inc.,

All Rights Reserved (Peter Rabbit 2) and Robert Viglasky/

Universal Pictures. © 2020 UNIVERSAL STUDIOS.


p97: Peter Mountain. © 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film

Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

p98: John Golden Britt / Focus Features.

p101: Sony Pictures Classics.

p102: Robert Viglasky/Universal Pictures.

© 2020 Universal Studios. All rights reserved.

104 Winter 2020


can go

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