CinemaCon: MPAA chairman and CEO Senator Chris Dodd and NATO president John Fithian gave their annual addresses to the Las Vegas convention on Tuesday [16] and launched an initiative to help parents better navigate the ratings system.

Speaking at The Colosseum inside Caesar’s Palace, Senator Dodd said the Check The Box campaign urged parents to consult enlarged ratings block on trailers that made descriptors more prominent.

The partners have also created educational materials, including a public service announcement and posters for deployment by theatre owners.

Dodd used the platform to reiterate his annual attack on piracy and noted how illegal viewing affected the film business including the largely unseen, ordinary people who work behind the camera and comprise the majority of people in the industry.

Fithian also returned to a familiar theme, telling attendees to make more family-friendly films, which accounted for roughly as much revenue as R-rated films in 2012 despite being out-numbered by nearly 3-1.

The NATO chief exhorted studios to embrace the notion of the year-round box office cycle and said any month of the year could deliver a $100m result. Fithian reminded attendees of the power of female and Latino film-goers.

In other CinemaCon news: David Kornblum [pictured], Walt Disney Studios vp of international theatrical sales and distribution for Asia Pacific and Russia, received the Passepartout Award and Fox International co-heads Paul Hanneman and Tomas Jegeus gave a keynote address.

International Day’s schedule included a panel on China that failed to shed any light on the recent decision by Chinese authorities to pull the release of Django Unchained.

  • Harkness Screens has appointed Mark Ashcroft CEO of the group. Ashcroft most recently served as svp of entertainment products retailer Amscan Inc and prior to that was evp of optical lens and spectacle lens company Sola Inc. Andrew Robinson is stepping down after 14 years and will remain a shareholder and director of Harkness Screens.

Christie has launched a set of four new Superior Performance Xenolite lamps for its Series 2 Christie Solaria projectors, ranging from 2kW to 6kW. The company claimed the increased brightness “offers more captivating 2D and 3D experiences, with no reduction to overall lamp performance”, adding that the new product will last 30% longer than comparable Xenon lamps.

  • Fandango said it has added four exhibitors – Muvico, Studio Movie Grill, Krikorian Premiere Theatres and Penn Cinema – to its expanding network of theatre chains. The recent agreements will bring Fandango’s online and mobile ticketing capabilities, which include reserved seating and Paperless Mobile Tickets, to an additional 500 screens in nine states and push the company’s theatre reach to more than 21,000 screens across the US. The development follows Fandango’s five-year renewal of its long-term relationship with Regal Entertainment Group.