The Flick Chicks

Welcome to The Flick Chicks

03/18/07 ShoWest 2007

Submit to DeliciousSubmit to DiggSubmit to FacebookSubmit to Google BookmarksSubmit to StumbleuponSubmit to TechnoratiSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

Judy Thorburn

ShoWest 2007 - Previews the "Year of the Movie Sequels"

Las Vegas Tribune -
Las Vegas Round The Clock

The Women Film Critics Circle -
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


By Judy Thorburn
Photos by Stephen Thorburn
(unless otherwise noted)

From Monday, March 12 through Thursday, March 15 the prestigious ShoWest convention and trade show, now in its 33rd year, took place at Bally’s and Paris Hotels. For me it marked the 6th year I attended the National Association of Theatre Owner’s convention, the single largest gathering of theatre owners and movie industry professionals from all over the world who come to this event to network and share valuable information on products and services to enhance the movie going experience that, will in turn, translate into box office profits. It also gives the theatre owners and managers a chance to hob nob with some of the best screen talent in the business that are given awards for their contribution to movies.

Besides the trade show floor, which consisted of vendors and exhibitors who showed off the latest in technological innovations, concession goodies, comfy seating and the like, attendees were treated to informal panel discussions and seminars, networking breakfasts, luncheons, dinners and special preview screenings of upcoming flicks from the movie studios eager to promote their latest releases to their key partner in the industry, the theatre owners who deliver the premium entertainment experience. In addition, something new was on the roster, a silent auction was held to benefit Variety – The Children’s Charity of Southern California. Tables with bidding sheets were set up outside the Paris Ballroom where interested attendees could place their best bid on items that ranged from autographed movie posters, tickets for upcoming major movie premieres as Evan Almighty, the next Harry Potter film, a pair of tickets to the 2007 MTV Movie Awards, to wardrobe from Dreamgirls and all sorts of movie memorabilia.

The hot topic for discussion seemed to be a carry over from last year. Digital technology is where it is at, but it is still an expensive venture for theatre owners. At Monday’s 11am, digital seminar titled “Digital Cinema – The Way Forward” studio executives said that “the cost must come down” but with the electronic delivery of digital cinema (movies are currently delivered by hard drive) when customers see a valued proposition they certainly will pay for it. The key is to the whole adoption of digital standards in the theatre, the driver for changing the business and giving customers what they want. Every studio is considering 3D and we can expect a really bountiful 3D harvest in the next three years. Exhibitors and studios, as partners, are sharing the cost, but theatre owners must be given programming options and see revenue increases. It is a fact that the faster we move to digital, which is delivered by satellite or fibre and with “keys” that secures the content, the faster we get rid of piracy.

During Monday’s International Day Luncheon, sponsored by IMAX Corporation and Nielsen EDI, Rich Gelfand, IMAX’s Co-CEO and Co-Chairman expressed his excitement about the release of “300” which set an opening box office record of $70 million on IMAX screens. It was at this luncheon that a few awards were also presented. Isao Matsuoka, Chairman of Japan’s Toho Co., Ltd received the Lifetime Achievement Award for leading his company, that owns 502 screens (the largest in Japan) real estate, live theatre operations, distributions, and produced the legendary Godzilla films. Toho is instrumental in making Japan the movie industry’s world’s second largest market.

Iaso Matsuoka

Director/producer Alfonso Cuaron was presented with the International Achievement in Filmmaking Award for being a visionary filmmaker who has pushed the limits of his own filmmaking as a storyteller. With a resume of hits as Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkabam, Y Tu Mama Tambien and Pans Labrynth to name a few, his films have grossed over $800 million at the box office. Upon accepting his award Cuaron spoke about his love for the movie going experience. He said, “I fell in love with cinema and movie theatres (as a youngster). I didn’t separate one experience from the other. The Sword and the Stone was the first film I saw when I went to the theatre with my family in Mexico City. As time passed I would go by myself. At 19 years old, I had to explore every theatre in the city. I knew all of them and where I had my first kiss. I remember more of the theatre than the movie and now it is important for me to share the movie experience with my son. I explore movie theatres everywhere I can.”

Alfonso Cuaron

At 2:15PM, there was an International Marketing and Distribution presentation where I got to see exclusive footage from major studios’ upcoming releases for 2007. This was the first time Universal gave a presentation citing a “new chapter of worldwide development”. Film clips from the studio included Evan Almighty, Mr. Bean’s Holiday, Hot Fuzz, Knocked Up, The Bourne Ultimatum, Atonement, The Kingdom, The Golden Age, American Gangster, Hellboy 2, Leatherheads, Mamma Mia! and the Mummy 3.

Mark Zucker, President of Sony Pictures Release International stated that last year the DaVinci Code was their biggest release setting a weekend record and Casino Royale was the biggest grossing James Bond movie ever. Sony showed clips from Reign Over Me, Hostel Part 2, the animated Surf’s Up, Residential Evil – Extinction, and an exciting, special 6 minute clip of Spiderman 3.

Paramount teased us with moments from Shrek 3, Blades of Glory, Stardust, Case 39, Shooter, Bee Movie, Disturbia, Stop Loss, Spiderwick Chronicles, an untitled Ben Stiller project and a longer clip from Transformers, the only original live action blockbuster, directed by Michael Bay, which was partially filmed at Red Rock Canyon and Hoover Dam outside of Las Vegas.

Buena Vista International was represented by Mark Zoradi, President of the World Disney Group, who said that when people of all ages hear the Disney name they know what they will get – quality, and best stories from the best filmmakers. The Disney Brand has three rules in their guidelines: l) appropriate dialogue for all ages, 2) no gratuitous violence and 3) no overt sexuality. The studio’s strategy building is l) the brand name 2) franchises 3) animation, which is the heart and soul of the company, helped by the acquisition of Pixar Studios. 4) Touchstone Films. Clips included scenes from the recently released Wild Hogs, and upcoming films Meet the Robinsons, National Treasure - Book of Secrets, Underdog, Ratatouille, Enchanted, some background scenes of the making of Pirates of the Caribbean – At World’s End, and a fascinating glimpse of the next chapter of Chronicles of Narnia, which is in pre-production. Later, on Tuesday we were invited to check out some more extended footage of the next Pirates feature, which was introduced by producer Jerry Buchheimer followed by animation Director Brad Bird introducing 12 minutes from his animated, original story Ratatouille, about a rat who dreams of becoming a top chef in Paris.

If there was one thing that stood out, it had to be the numbers of sequels, or should I saw three-quels that will be released in 2007. Just look at the list and you can’t help but note how many movie follow ups there are. This summer the calendar is filled with third chapters of Pirates of the Caribbean, Spiderman, Shrek and Ocean’s 11. Add another installment of the Harry Potter franchise, Hostel, Saw, Hellboy, and The Mummy. Let me not forget The Bourne Ultimatum, National Treasure -Book of Secrets and the Chronicles of Narnia – Prince Caspian. Surely, this has got to be the year of the sequel.

On Monday evening attendees needed to trek on over to the Cinemark Orleans Theatre at the Orleans Hotel for an “Evening of Independent Films” which featured a scrumptious buffet reception in the lobby and 6pm and 9pm screenings of six films: Focus features “Talk to Me” starring ShoWest Male Star of the Year, Don Cheadle, Lionsgate’s heart wrenching “Away From Her” starring Julie Christie as a woman slowly disappearing from her husband as a result of Alzheimer’s Disease, Sony Picture Classics “The Valet” a French farce, Think Film’s “The TV Set” starring David Duchovny in a comedy about the making of a TV pilot, Picturehouse’s “Gracie” about a young female soccer player from actor/turned producer Andrew Shue (who was present) that is based on his real life family experience.

In the past ShoWest attendees were privy to special preview screenings of upcoming blockbusters. Not the case this year, as the major studios don’t see why they have to hype upcoming releases such as Spiderman 3 or Pirates of the Caribbean, sure fire blockbusters that don’t need the pre-sell. This year full-length screenings included MGM’s Mr. Brooks (on Tuesday evening) starring Kevin Costner in his most risky role ever, as a deranged killer. The film co-stars Demi Moore, Dane Cook and William Hurt. However the press, including yours truly, was not allowed to attend…. which begs me to question why? Nevertheless, Paramount Pictures had two half hour apart screenings of the thriller, “Disturbia” starring ShoWest Male Star of Tomorrow Shia LaBeouf who also appears in the upcoming Transformers and can be heard as the voice of the lead penguin in the animated Surf’s Up (which Sony showed exclusive extended footage of at the following Thursday afternoon special presentation). And on Wednesday night there was a screening of the smash British film, an action packed comedy “Hot Fuzz” from the makers of Shaun of the Dead.

We weren’t granted a screening of New Line’s movie adaptation of the Broadway hit “Hairspray” which, in itself, was inspired by John Water’s 1988 cult film. However, the highlight of this year’s convention had to be Wednesday evening’s retro-themed party called “Something Big is Coming” a preview of “Hairspray” that featured buffet offerings of meatloaf, mash potatoes, burgers, French fries, fried chicken, and macaroni and cheese. Clips of musical numbers from the movie were showcased on the big screen, along with live song and dance renditions by cast members, Nikki Blonsky, Queen Latifah, James Marsden and Elijah Kelly. After the performances Hairspray stars John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken and Allison Janney joined the cast in a bow, but did not perform.

Brittany Snow

Christopher Walken

Elijah Kelly

Allison Janney

James Marsden

Nikki Blonsky

Zac Efron

Nikki Blonsky and John Travolta

Queen Latifah and Michelle Pfeiffer

John Travolta and Nikki Blonsky - Photo by Jill Badzinski

Wednesday’s luncheon was co-sponsored by Christie Digital Systems and, the internet website that Shari Friedman, VP of My Entertainment Sales said, has 165 million registered users. 30 million people per day tap into MySpace to see what movie trailers are being offered, which thereby jump starts awareness for those films. As for Lionsgate’s upcoming slate of twenty films for 2007 they promise to be a truly diverse lot. The studio describes their brand as original, daring and quality entertainment.

Prior to the luncheon the media was invited to a photo op and meet and greet with directors, producers and stars from several of Lionsgate’s upcoming flicks. Arrivals included Dane Cook, star of Good Luck Chuck and ShoWest’s Breakout Performance of the Year Award recipient, Eli Roth, writer/director of Hostel Part II, Evan Ross, star of Pride, James Mangold and Cathy Konrad, director and producer of 3:10 To Yuma, Jason Statham, star of War, Larry the Cable Guy, star of Delta Farce, Mark Burg and Oren Koules, Producers of Saw Franchise and Saw IV and ShoWest “Award of Excellence in Producing” recipients; “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, star of Condemned, Tobin Bell, Star of Saw, Saw II and Saw III, and The Exorcist director, William Friedkin, director of Bug. Friedkin stated, “I love making films and seeing them in theatres. I feel motion pictures are the best and least expensive form of mass entertainment except for TV, which is now mostly reality based, on the small screen with bad sound. There is more reality on bathroom walls then on TV today. Resist the smaller window for DVD release. Keep the theatre experience alive.”

Cathy Konrad and James Mangold

Dane Cook

Dane Cook

Eli Roth

Eli Roth

Evan Ross

Jason Statham

Judy Thorburn and Larry the Cable Guy

Steve Austin and Judy Thorburn

Larry the Cable Guy

Larry the Cable Guy

Oren Koules and Mark Burg

Steve Austin (Stone Cold)

Tobin Bell (Jigsaw)

Tobin Bell (Jigsaw)

William Friedkin

Tobin Bell and Judy Thorburn

At 2:30 PM, prior to the screening of Picturehouse’s “El Cantante” which stars Jennifer Lopez (in her first project as a producer) and Marc Anthony, Lopez and David Duchovny and his “TV Set” costar Judy Greer took part in seminar titled “Independent Film Takes Center Stage” moderated by Gregg Kilday, Film Editor of the Hollywood Reporter. Also joining them seated on stage were Bob Berney, President of Picturehouse, El Cantante director Leon Ichaso, Mark Urman, Head of Thinkfilm’s U.S. Theatrical, Bob Yari, Chairman of Yari Film Group, and Bob Foley Focus Films’ President of Theatrical Distribution. They spoke about how the independent film process is not an easy one and the key words that kept coming up was “passion and labors of love” in referring to their films which are made on a low budget and are not backed by a major studio. The panel did agree that smaller distributors like Searchlight and ThinkFilms get behind their films. Yari said “specialty films like the Illusionist, which opened in August needs careful planning to do it justice. You need to speak to a specific group and know how and when to pick just the right release date. Foley stated “Putting the film in the right location to see it work is like mining gold.” Lopez spoke about the filmmaking process. “This was our baby. It was like, who are you giving it to? We knew it would be handled with the right passion and intensity as we have (referring to Picturehouse as distributors). I wanted to do it down and dirty (with El Cantante). There are certain movies that cannot be compromised. It is hard to believe we did it in 33 days. It was such an effort; not selling out. I hope our commitment will turn the independent effort into a gain.”

Independent Film Takes Center Stage

David Duchovny

Leon Ichaso

Judy Greer

Jennifer Lopez

Moderator Gregg Kilday talks with Jennifer Lopez

Duchovny spoke about shooting his film in only 25 days with actors having to stay on the set in shitty trailers. But, “it created a sense of camaraderie, banding together everybody who knows the movie they are in. Sometimes a lack of money makes it wonderful. You don’t have time to sit around and NOT know what you are doing”.

The Hollywood Reporter sponsored Thursday’s final day luncheon. ShoWest Marketing Achievement Awards were presented by American Express to those people who orchestrated creative, innovative marketing programs and ideas that grabbed the attention of consumers to bring in business. Award recipients were granted free registration and free room for ShoWest, an award plaque and $1,000 in cash. Among the many recipients was Las Vegas’s Johnny Brendan, owner of Brendan Theatres at the Palms Resort and his marketing wizard, Joseph Girouard for Best Overall Promotion and Showmanship for “Superman Returns” that involved a meet and greet with the movie’s star Brandon Routh.

Best Overall Promotion and Showmanship Award winner Joseph Girouard (center) and Johnny Brenden with Brenden Theatre staff and presenter executive from Sony Pictures (right)

Johnny Brenden and Diva

The icing on the cake is always the final night Awards Banquet where Hollywood stars, up and comers and influential filmmakers are honored with awards for utilizing their talent in movies that bring in the bucks. The glitzy Hollywood big wigs know who butters their bread and expressing their appreciation back to theatre owners is a must that is always included in their acceptance speeches.

Co-emcees for the 2007 Award Ceremonies was a very pregnant Nancy O’Dell and Billy Bush from TV’s Access Hollywood. The following is a list of Award Recipients and some quotes from what they said. With the exception of Steve Carell, who was a no show in the pressroom, the recipients were gracious enough to give us reporters a few moments before heading out to the banquet.

Animation Directors of the Year – Chris Miller and Raman Hui for their work on Shrek 3. Rayman upon accepting the award said he was nervous and can only speak in Chinese. Chris jokingly went along playing the interpreter.

Raman Hui and Chris Miller

Supporting Actor of the Year – Freddy Rodriguez for his work in Planet Terror, the first part of Grindhouse double feature, where he plays an action hero. “This was always a dream for me, to play an action hero. I want to thank Robert Rodriguez for believing I can bring an iconic action hero to life. This is the first time I ever have received an award for anything in films.”

Freddy Rodriguez

Female Star of Tomorrow – Emma Roberts for her work in the upcoming Nancy Drew flick. When asked who her favorite actresses are 16 year old Emma said “Rachel MacAdams and Drew Barrymore”. Although she comes from an acting family (dad is Eric, aunt is Julia) she doesn’t feel pressured by her surname and says “I do my own thing and I am having a lot of fun”. About the Nancy Drew character: “I didn’t read the books when I was young, only when I was cast.”

Emma Roberts

Male Star of Tomorrow – Shia LeBeouf is quickly earning a reputation as one of the busiest actors in the business with three upcoming films: Transformers, Disturbia and Surfs Up. “As a kid I sold beads with my mother in booths. It was her artwork that we sold on fold up tables. Now the beads are hand painted by Michael Bay (director of Transformer) and the exhibitors are you (the theatre owners). I am so honored by the team that puts on ShoWest.”

Shia LaBeouf

Screenwriter of the Year, for The Last Mimsy - Bruce Joel Rubin, who won an Oscar for Ghost, got in front of the microphone, stood silent for a moment and just said “Thank you”. Earlier, in the press room he was more talkative when asked about the kind of stories he writes. He responded, “All of my movies have some sort of a spiritual insight.” He then added, “It was an unexpected miracle, an enjoyable experience to be getting this award”.

Bruce Joel Rubin

Supporting Actress of the Year –Rosario Dawson, who stars in the upcoming Death Proof, the 2nd part of Grindhouse. “I do not work for rewards like this, but to work with such people like Tarantino and Rodriquez.”

Rosario Dawson

Producer of the Year for Oceans 13 and Nancy Drew - Jerry Weintraub. “This is the most important event for me in the industry because movies should be shown on big screens. We need to build more theatres and screens. This is a very special night for me along with Emma Roberts for Nancy Drew (my film) and Don Cheadle, who I have worked with in three pictures. I am hitting an important birthday. Please send me a lifetime pass to ShoWest. I should live so long.”

Jerry Weintraub

Comedy Star of the Year – Steve Carell for Evan Almighty. Reading the words of Italian actor Roberto Benini: “Please know that you continue to make my body move in a very bad way. Thank you very much.” (I know it sounds strange, but that IS what he said!)

Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez

Directors of the Year – Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, for their collaboration on the double feature, Grindhouse. Rodriguez: “We are showman. That’s why we are here, to thank you for allowing us to do this double feature. It’s about drawing people into the theatre with something they have never seen before. Co-directors are not allowed in Hollywood.” Smiling he added, “this is an outlaw award”.

Tarantino – “Together, we are going to get people off the f-king couch and into theatres”.

Male Star of the Year – Don Cheadle for three movies due in theatres in 2007, including Ocean’s 13. “It’s definitely less suspenseful” he remarked in the press conference “but I am still going to try and make a surprised face” in accepting the award.

Don Cheadle

Female Star of the Year – Kirsten Dunst, returning in Spiderman 3. She acknowledged that she was nervous but said “One of my favorite things is going to the movies, getting popcorn and sitting with strangers. Winning an award from all the people who make that experience so special is especially meaningful.”

Kirsten Dunst

It is a fact that that going to the movies is meaningful to millions of people. Don’t listen to the naysayers who claim that theatre attendance is in the decline because of in home technology. On the contrary, statistics prove those people who own high tech systems are frequenting the theatre even more than before because overall nothing can compare to seeing a movie in a theatre. The theatre going experience is alive and well. In fact, the movie business contributes $60 billion to the U.S. economy. With all the technological innovations like 3D, 4K and digital projection experiencing movies on the big screen is only getting better.

A big thanks goes out to Heather, Jessica and Kelsey (I hope I got the spelling right) at Rogers and Cowan for being so accommodating. And like always, it was great sharing this four-day event with my colleagues from Utah, Adam and Kevin of and their videographer, Sheldon.

That about sums it up. That is, until same time next year, when I will report on ShoWest 2008.

Special ShoWest 2007 Photo Gallery

March 12th -15th, 2007
Bally's Paris Las Vegas
Las Vegas, NV

The Official Convention of the
National Association of Theatre Owners

Show Schedule


ShoWesterScreenwriterLifetime AchmntComedianAmin Dir YR
Directors of YRFemale Star YRFemale Star of TProducingMale Star of T
Supprt Actor YRSupprt ActressProducer YRMale StarPhoto Gallery
Press ReleaseShoWest 2007ShoWest 2006ShoWest 2005ShoWest 2004

You are here: Home ShoWest News 03/18/07 ShoWest 2007