saidi on cinema con – pt. 1


For those who don’t know, CinemaCon is the annual movie theater convention usually held is Las Vegas, NV every spring.  It’s put together by NATO – the National Association of Theater Owners (NOT the “North Atlantic Treaty Organization”).  There are also similar conventions such as CineAsia and CineEurope in other countries at other times of the year, but CinemaCon is one of the most prominent with movie theater owners from all over the world attending.

There are different registration tiers for the convention. 

  1. The first one is just for the trade show which takes up large rooms on two different floors and also includes some suites and demonstration rooms so it filled the entire Caesars Palace convention space.  If you’re interested in opening a movie theater, you own some land, and you have a lot of money, you can walk into the trade show floor and walk out with a complete movie theater.  Everything and anything you need to for a movie theater is on that trade show floor including movie theater screens, curtains, seats, speakers, projection equipment, sound equipment, concession stand equipment, concession stand food (Coca Cola is one of the biggest sponsors of CinemaCon as noted in the top right corner of the home screen on the website), movie theater box office equipment, movie ticket machines, marquees, movie poster frames, etc, etc, etc.
  1. The second level includes the trade show and includes the seminars during the show.  They have seminars such as “Movie Theaters Aren’t Going Anywhere “, “Community Building at Your Cinema Through Creative Marketing” and “NAC Seminar: Concession, Bar and Kitchen (Re)Design in Today’s Environment”.
  1. The largest level for movie theaters in the US includes all the previous levels and includes the major presentations and events. 
  • Every night during the convention there is usually a dinner or a reception type event.  On the last night there is also the “Big Screen Achievement Awards” where they give awards to actors or filmmakers.
  • Sometimes there are presentations for new technology.  Some of the first digital cinema demonstrations were at CinemaCon.  (although there wasn’t any this year)
  • Since CinemaCon is usually held right before the big summer movie season, usually each of the major studios have a big presentation where they showcase all their movie releases for the summer and rest of the year. 
  • There are often screenings of movies coming out soon (last year there was one of the first public screenings for the movie “Top Gun Maverick”).
  1. The top-level for the convention is for the international attendees.  It includes all the previous levels plus what happens on “International Day”.  On the first day of the convention, they have an “international day” with some seminars and events directed towards the global theatrical industry.  They have a special lunch where they have their own “International Day Award Ceremony”.

I have been going to CinemaCon almost every year for the last few years.  I usually get the second highest level (I don’t need to attend the international events).  I walk through the trade show floor once or twice, sometimes I go to one or two seminars, I sometimes go to the movie screening, and I almost always attend the studio presentations.  The only thing I usually skip is the awards presentation on the final night.  I am usually heading back to Los Angeles on Thursday night after the final seminar/screening/presentation.

All the scheduled events of CinemaCon are inside Caesars Palace hotel and casino.  This year’s CinemaCon was a little different because a friend who lives in Las Vegas offered to let me stay at his place.  I decided to take him up on that offer so I could save a little money.  However, his place is about 12 or 13 miles away from Caesars Palace.  Plus, there’s construction on the Las Vegas strip.  I believe it’s preparation for the Formula 1 race that will be racing down the Las Vegas strip in November.  Parts of the strip are currently blocked off, including the street right in front of Caesars Palace.  I heard it was even a problem if you take a cab or Uber/Lyft to the casino.

Another thing that started a few years ago is casinos now charge for parking in their self-parking lots or their valet parking.  The self-parking lot costs up to $20 (if you’re parked for over 3 hours).  If you’re staying at the hotel, it’s just $20 a day no matter how many times you leave and then come back.  If you’re not staying at the hotel, it’s $20 EVERY TIME you leave the self-parking.  By the 2nd day, I just hung out at the hotel the whole day until everything I wanted to check out was done instead of paying $20 multiple times (their intention is to keep people at their hotel).  A friend suggested I should have parked a few blocks away where it was free and then walked to casino.  Maybe I’ll do that next year.