MPAA chairman and CEO Senator Chris Dodd and NATO president and CEO John Fithian used their keynote addresses on the second day of the Las Vegas convention to accentuate the positive in front of a packed house of attendees at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace.
Meanwhile the audience was treated to a 10-minute sequence from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at the higher 48 fps frame rate. Director Peter Jackson introduced the sizzle reel via a video recording as part of the Warner Bros presentation and said the CinemaCon crowd was the first to witness the new technology.
Returning to the keynotes, Senator Dodd (pictured) noted that the first quarter box office in 2012 was up by 17% against the same period last year and said he expected great things from the studios’ summer line-up.
Dodd noted that while Hollywood needed to engage with new platforms “… [t]hat in no way changes the simple fact that the best way to see our movies is in your theatres, in the dark, on the big screen.”
Fithian spoke of the proliferation of global digital screens and reminded attendees of a letter issued by Fox last year ihich said that Twentieth Century Fox and Fox Searchlight would phase out delivery of 35mm film before long, however there is still no specific timeline for this.
On another note, the executive noted that all six of the US majors were staging presentations at CinemaCon this year and added, “With the combination of Lionsgate and Summit, we may be witnessing the arrival of the seventh major. And Lionsgate has also come to CinemaCon, with a screening this evening [What To Expect When You’re Expecting.]”
He pointed out how this year’s show came at a time of year-on-year Q1 box office growth; in contrast to last year’s show when the quarter was down on the same period in 2010. At a press conference after the address, Fithian attributed last year’s Q1 box office drop to a lack of films, a lack of diversity in releases and a lack of quality in places.
The press conference touched on the ongoing fight against piracy and how educational efforts and reward systems were impacting on the level of illegal camcorder activity. Fithian noted how the success in the US had led to similar efforts taking hold outside North America, particularly in Mexico and Russia.
Fithian told reporters that NATO was looking into variable ticket pricing mechanisms that might be related to the length of a film’s life in theatres but said it was too soon and too sensitive to elaborate.
Dodd added during the press conference that since the premium VoD debate of 2011, positive discussions were going on between studios and exhibitors.
Earlier in the day Warner Bros Pictures president Jeff Robinov introduced highlights from the studio’s upcoming releases. Tim Burton and Johnny Depp appeared on stage to talk up Dark Shadows (May 11) while Christopher Nolan introduced sequences from The Dark Knight Rises (Jul 20), Adam Shankman introduced footage from his musical Rock Of Ages (Jun 15) and Jay Roach talked about political comedy The Campaign (Aug 10).
Looking towards the year-end scheduled, Robinov introduced a recorded message from Baz Luhrmann who previewed 3D sequences from The Great Gatsby (Dec 25) while as mentioned earlier, Jackson showed a sequence from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Dec 14), which has been shot entirely in 48 fps compared to the standard 24 fps.
All the previewed Warner Bros films will open in conventional format and IMAX except The Campaign.