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CinemaCon 2020 has been canceled by the National Association of Theatre Owners due to concerns surrounding the the coronavirus, the organization announced Wednesday night to the great relief of thousands of attendees.

CinemaCon is the annual confab that sees studios and talent tout their upcoming wares to exhibitors and members of the press. The event was due to take place from March 30 to April 2 in Las Vegas, and would’ve seen 4,000 guests seated inside the Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace. That didn’t sound like the world’s greatest idea given that we’re in the middle of a global pandemic. In fact, mere hours later, the Governor of California called for all gatherings of more than 250 people to be canceled or postponed. Las Vegas is in Nevada, obviously, so it fell on NATO’s John Fithian and CinemaCon’s Mitch Neuhauser to do the smart thing and pull the plug on this year’s event.

CinemaCon leadership initially resisted the idea of cancellation, given the message that would send to moviegoers worldwide. If theater owners, studio execs and top talent were fearful of attending, why would they ask consumers to continue seeing movies in theaters? Movie theaters have yet to close, of course, though MGM already took the drastic step of moving its James Bond tentpole No Time to Die from April to November, and I won’t be surprised if other studios follow suit. For example, Paramount’s sequel to A Quiet Place sure looks like it would benefit from a movie to the summer, as movie theaters may wind up being “quiet places” themselves the next few weeks.


Image via Collider

Acording to Deadline, NATO is actually insured for the cancellation of CinemaCon, so next year’s event isn’t expected to face any financial impact — unlike SXSW and, possibly, the Cannes Film Festival, which has yet to be canceled, but will almost certainly be scaled back this year, especially given its proximity to Italy, where the outbreak is even more serious.

CinemaCon has always been about the razzle dazzle of putting on a show, but if you can’t convince movie stars to schmooze in a Las Vegas casino, then really, what’s the point of “the show must go on?” As much as I was looking forward to covering the event this year with Frosty and Adam Chitwood, I think Fithian and Neuhauser deserve credit for doing the right thing here. The risk is too great when the stakes are this high. Read their full statement below:

“It is with great regret we are announcing the cancellation of CinemaCon 2020. Each spring, motion picture exhibitors, distributors and industry partners from around the world meet in Las Vegas to share information and celebrate the moviegoing experience. This year, due to the travel ban from the European Union, the unique travel difficulties in many other areas of the world and other challenges presented by the Coronavirus pandemic, a significant portion of the worldwide motion picture community is not able to attend CinemaCon. While local outbreaks vary widely in severity, the global circumstances make it impossible for us to mount the show that our attendees have come to expect. After consultation with our attendees, trade show exhibitors, sponsors, and studio presenters, NATO has decided therefore to cancel CinemaCon 2020. We look forward to continuing the 10-year tradition of presenting the largest movie theater convention in the world and joining our attendees in future celebrations of the moviegoing experience.”

The coronavirus has already forced the cancellation of this year’s E3. For more on that story, click here.

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