is at ShoWest!


For the next four days, will be hanging out in the bustling city of Las Vegas, Nevada, specifically at the Paris Hotel, for ShoWest 2009, the annual gathering of exhibitors, distributors, studio execs, tech manufacturers as well as a handful of filmmakers and actors, who show up every year to receive special awards from the gathered exhibitors. This is the 35th year of the conference, and will be seeing what we can see and writing as much as we possibly can write in between, and hopefully there’ll be some new footage or interviews to share with CS readers.

At its core, ShoWest is a trade convention for the film exhibitors’ industry, a chance for them to communicate directly with the heads of the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) and NATO (that’s the National Association of Theater Owners, not one of the other NATOs), as well as the heads of distribution at the studios, to discuss issues about the distribution and projection of the movies that we all love to watch.

Attendants at ShoWest can attend dozens of panels and conferences on important issues like 3D projection and the rise in popularity of home theaters and how they cut into ticket sales, things like that. In past years, we haven’t really spent that much time on the exhibition floor looking at the new technology that would mainly be of interest to those who own or run a movie theater, but who knows? Maybe we’ll have a chance this year.

Because these are theater owners, ShoWest is very much about movies, and every year, it’s the first chance for many of them (and us!) to see what movies are coming out over the rest of the year. Oddly, a lot of the major studios have chosen to bow out of doing major presentations this year, the only two doing full presentations being Sony Pictures and Walt Disney Studios. (Warner Bros. will be represented by President and COO Alan Horn, who’ll be there to give an update about the State of the Industry.) Sony will be showing footage from the animated movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, based on the book by Judi Barrett–which ironically just had its first trailer debut in front of Monsters vs. Aliens–and doing a presentation for their upcoming summer line-up. Disney is doing a presentation for their upcoming 3D projects, which will probably include Pixar’s Up and Toy Story 3D, among others.

The two biggest movies being screened in full are Joe Wright’s The Soloist (DreamWorks – April 24), starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx, and The Proposal (Touchstone – June 19), a romantic comedy that pairs Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. The nicest surprise is that Woody Allen’s new comedy Whatever Works (Sony Pictures Classics – June 19), starring Larry David and Evan Rachel Wood, will screen at ShoWest three weeks before it opens this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York. The 3D animated Battle for Terra (Lionsgate – May 1), which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2007, will also screen for theater owners.

Traditionally, Monday night is Independent Night, and this year, there are five selections to choose from: Kathryn Bigelow’s Iraqi bomb squad thriller The Hurt Locker (Summit – June 26), John Crowley’s Is Anybody There? (Big Beach Films – April 17), starring Michael Caine and Bill Milner (from Son of Rambow), and Stephan Elliot’s period rom-com Easy Virtue (Sony Pictures Classics – May 22), starring Jessica Biel, Colin Firth and Ben Barnes. The other two choices are both documentaries The Cove (Roadside Attractions – July 31), about the slaughter of dolphins in Japan–there will be a special discussion panel about the movie later in the week–and More Than a Game (Lionsgate – fall), Kristopher Belman’s movie about LeBron James.

As with years past, the conference ends on Thursday night with the Final Night Banquet and Awards Ceremony, a huge gala affair hosted by Billy Bush, where they can present some of the biggest awards. This year’s ceremony should be a lot of fun as they’ll be presenting awards to the likes of Michael Bay (Vanguard Award) and Zack Snyder (Director of the Year), and actors Chris Pine, Sienna Miller, Rachel McAdams, Dennis Quaid, Zac Efron and Michael Caine. No, we don’t know how they decide who gets these awards, except that ironically enough, most of them have movies coming out in the next few weeks. We hope to have a chance to talk with all of them, but the most interesting choice is the award being given to the noticeably plural “Female STARS of Tomorrow,” being presented to the entire cast of Summit’s horror remake Sorority Row, six actresses including 2nd gen. actors Rumor Willis and Briana Evigan.

Obviously, it’s going to be a busy week for us, but to kick things off, you can check out a few pictures of the new movie posters that are on display in the halls of the Paris Hotel right here.