Philip Harris III, the founder of Signature Theatres and current vice chair of the finance committee at the National Association Of Theatre Owners (NATO), is to be named ShoWester of the Year at next year's ShoWest convention in Las Vegas running March 3 to 6.

"Phil Harris has quickly emerged as one of the brightest and most respected exhibitors in the country," said Robert Sunshine, vice president of the VNU Expositions Film Group/Sunshine Group Worldwide, in a statement. "The rapid and successful expansion of Signature Theatres is a testament to Phil's knowledge and expertise of the business of exhibition, which is why we are pleased to name him ShoWester of the Year."

The ShoWester award each year goes to an individual who has throughout his or her career demonstrated a dedication to the betterment of the exhibition industry and its causes. As a third generation exhibitor, Harris began his exhibition career in 1968 as an IATSE union projectionist in family-owned theatres in Davis, California. In 1982, he purchased a family business with partner Doug Stephens, but sold it in 1985 to form what would become Signature Theatres in 1988. The business rapidly expanded and by 1995, Harris had increased the company's initial 22 screens in three sites to a total of 208 screens in 21 sites scattered throughout California, Hawaii and Montana. Currently the 23rd largest exhibitor in North America by screen count, the company plans to add 89 screens over the next two years and build five new mega-stadium complexes and screen additions to two of its existing facilities.

Harris has been a member of the NATO Board of Directors since 1990.