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Cinemacon 2015: Global growth fuels record attendance at trade show

Cinemacon has record participation

The Cinamecon trade show opening in Las Vegas this week is expected to draw record participation, underscoring the cinema industry's rapid global growth.

Some 3,000 theater owners, studio executives, film financiers and others are registered to attend the fifth annual industry gathering, up 7% over last year and the highest number of registered delegates since the National Assn. of Theatre Owners began operating Cinemacon in 2011, said Mitch Neuhauser, the event's managing director.

Including vendors and other participants, about 6,000 people are expected to converge on Las Vegas this week.

Neuhauser attributed the increase to the exhibition industry's global expansion. Among the 3,000 delegates, 900 are from international markets representing 72 countries, including Qatar, South Korea, Finland, Kazakhstan, Cambodia and Bangladesh.

China, which is now the world's second largest film market and has a booming cinema industry, has 40 delegates, he said.

China and other international markets fueled a record level of global ticket sales, which reached $36.4 billion in 2014, according to a recent report by the Motion Picture Assn. of America.

"It's the highest level of international participation that we've had," Neuhauser said.  "No matter what anybody says about the motion picture theater industry, we know we're here forever to provide the best form of social interaction and entertainment around the world. Our industry just continues to grow and grow."

During the four-day event, studios will showcase upcoming films, unveiling one of the strongest lineups in years.

Last year, Universal impressed giddy movie theater owners by bringing Angelina Jolie to town to talk about her World War II drama “Unbroken.” This year, Paramount Pictures is hoping to generate excitement about its “Terminator: Genisys” reboot by bringing franchise star and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger onto the stage at Caesars’ Colosseum.

Paramount’s presentation Tuesday will also include footage from what is certain to be one of the summer’s biggest blockbusters -- the fifth installment of “Mission: Impossible.” It remains to be seen, however, whether Tom Cruise will be a surprise guest.

Other major titles being spotlighted at CinemaCon include Fox’s “Fantastic Four” reboot, starring the up-and-comers Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara and Jamie Bell; Warner’s “Mad Max: Fury Road,” the first film in George Miller’s series in three decades; and Disney’s “Inside Out,” which the studio is hoping will become its next Pixar Animation franchise.

Though billed as an event where theater owners and studios can celebrate their industry, Cinemacon has often served to highlight their differences.

At prior events, disputes between theater owners and studios have erupted over such issues as how to divvy up box office revenue and how soon movies are released into the home.

Last year, Sony's decision to stream the controversial movie "The Interview" before its original Christmas Day release theater angered several theater owners who refused to play the movie, contending it would undermine the traditional theatrical window that have given them exclusive access to movies.

For now, such disputes have abated as theater owners and studios are basking in the prospect of what could be a record year in domestic ticket sales fueled by sequels and reboots of such franchises as "Star Wars," "Avengers" and "Jurassic Park."

"Exhibitors and distributors alike are excited about 2015," said John Fithian, president of the National Assn. of Theatre Owners. "You name it, there are big, big movies this year."

Twitter: @rverrier

Times Staff Writer Amy Kaufman contributed to this report.

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