ShoWest’s top manager Mitch Neuhauser has joined forces with the National Association Of Theatre Owners (NATO) and will act as show manager for the body’s new industry convention that launches in March 2011.

Neuhauser assumes his new duties on September 14 and currently serves as vice-president of Nielsen Film Group, where he oversees all aspects of ShoWest, ShowEast, Cinema Expo and CineAsia.

NATO, which has previously announced its breakaway convention, will continue to support ShoWest as its official convention through 2010.

Neuhauser began his career in 1981 with the Sunshine Group Worldwide, which operated ShowEast, Cinema Expo and CineAsia until it was purchased by Nielsen (then VNU).

ShoWest was added to his responsibilities when it was purchased by Nielsen in 2001. Neuhauser is also assistant executive director of NATO of New York State.

“Personally, I owe a debt of deep gratitude to Bob Sunshine and The Nielsen Film Group for their tremendous support over the past 28 years and I leave on good terms and with great pride in what we have accomplished together,” Neuhauser said.

NATO and Cinemark chairman Lee Roy Mitchell added: “As NATO takes the reins of its official convention, our board of directors and conventions task force have considered how best to build on the long history of our successful partnership with ShoWest. We are confident we have taken an important first step by hiring a man who has been so critical to that success.”

Leading studio distribution executives from PPI president Andrew Cripps to Walt Disney Motion Picture Group president Mark Zoradi publicly endorsed the appointment yesterday.

NATO is the largest exhibition trade organisation in the world, representing more than 29,000 cinema screens in all 50 states, and additional cinemas in more than 50 countries worldwide.