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Goodbye ShoWest, hello CinemaCon

March 16, 2010 |  8:00 am

Can adding a "con" to your name make you cool?

That's what the National Assn. of Theatre Owners is thinking. NATO said Wednesday it is changing the name of its annual convention from ShoWest to CinemaCon. Imagine the marketing. It's like Comic-Con but for movie-theater fanboys.

The new name will take effect at next year's convention, and NATO itself will produce the conference. For the last decade, ShoWest, which has been around for 36 years, was produced by the Sunshine Group, owned by Nielsen Business Media, which sold ShoWest among other assets in January to private equity firm e5 Global Media. The news was first reported by Variety.

“Taking the show under NATO’s control allows us to rethink everything about what works and what doesn’t,’’ said NATO spokesman Patrick Corcoran. “It allows the theater industry to take control of the messaging, marketing and perceptions of its industry’s premier event. All the decisions on programming will be aimed at serving the industry’s interest rather than generating profit for an outside company “

The new trade show will be held in March at a larger, single venue, Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The forum is currently hosted at the Paris and Bally’s hotels. Among the goals will be to encourage more studio participation in the event, which has declined in recent years as studios cut costs.

"We're bringing a little more star power and glamor back to the industry's most important convention,'' said Mitch Neuhauser, executive director of CinemaCon.

Robert Sunshine, who manages the show, declined to discuss his company’s budget for ShoWest but disputed the claim that studio involvement was weak this year. “We’ve probably had as good a studio participation as we’ve had in several years,’’ he said. “The relationship with NATO is wonderful. I hope the convention is very successful.”

[For the record: ShoWest was misspelled as ShowWest in an earlier version of this post.]

-- Richard Verrier

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