2020 was not a good year for the ’Cons. One by one, they all fell, often in tandem with the ’Fests and the ’Paloozas, as it became increasingly clear that stuffing a lot of humans into close quarters and encouraging them to sweat and breathe on each other may not be the most successful COVID-19 management strategy going. Among the many events to get hit by closures was CinemaCon, one of the film industry’s big annual shindigs, which typically takes place in March in Las Vegas. Well, 2020 might have been a wash, but 2021's looking up: The convention will return this August, with all the major studios tossing their support behind it.
Operated by the National Association Of Theater Owners—who also, not coincidentally, took it in the teeth last year—the event (formerly known as ShoWest Con) is all about shoring up the relationships between theaters and studios with a bunch of fancy press conferences and parties. That’s going to be especially vital in 2021, given all the hits that long-held industry institutions, like the theatrical window that keeps movies away from the home video market on initial release, have been winnowed away by the necessities of the pandemic. Hence, maybe, why Disney, Universal, Paramount, Warner Bros., and Sony have all absolutely promised that they’ll definitely be there this fall, bringing along their big, theatrical movies, which you should watch in theaters, please, where the air is now allegedly probably safe.
Variety notes that Lionsgate, Focus Features, and Whole Foods Presents: MGM will all also be in attendance, with COVID checks and everything to try to maintain safe practices. And while having some executives and stars head out to the desert for a big party isn’t necessarily a real bellwether for the health of a massive global industry, it does carry a certain “money-where-your-mouth-is” appeal in terms of the upcoming, and ongoing, pushes to get movie-goers back in theaters.