Wednesday, March 11, 2020 | 9:24 p.m.
LOS ANGELES — The annual movie exhibition and trade show CinemaCon has been canceled in Las Vegas due to coronavirus, scuttling one of Hollywood's premier hype machines.
The weeklong conference, which brings together everyone from Hollywood studio executives and celebrities to movie theater owners and equipment and concession manufacturers, had been scheduled to begin March 30 at Caesars Palace.
Theater owners, however, have not yet closed their doors. While cinemas have been shuttered in several other nations, including China, Italy and Poland, they remain open in North America.
The cancellation was announced Wednesday in a joint statement by John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theater Owners, and CinemaCon's managing director, Mitch Neuhauser.
“While local outbreaks vary widely in severity, the global circumstances make it impossible for us to mount the show that our attendees have come to expect," they said. "After consultation with our attendees, trade show exhibitors, sponsors, and studio presenters, NATO has decided therefore to cancel CinemaCon 2020.”
Hollywood studios including The Walt Disney Co., Warner Bros., Universal, Lionsgate, Paramount and Focus Features had planned big presentations of their upcoming slates, with new footage, trailers and appearances from A-list talent. This year entertainers like Michael B. Jordan, Carey Mulligan, Antoine Fuqua and Glen Powell were expected to attend the conference’s awards ceremony on April 2.
Organizers had sent out several updates to attendees about plans for enhanced health and sanitation measures at the ninth annual gathering, noting also that delegates from China, Japan, Korea and Italy had canceled their attendance.
It’s the latest virus-related shakeup in the movie business that has in the past few weeks seen the theatrical releases of the new James Bond and Peter Rabbit movies delayed and film festivals, like South by Southwest, canceled.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.
Although North American theaters have yet to report any discernible decline in earnings, the global theatrical market has been directly impacted by the virus. Cinemas have been closed in China for several weeks and Italy also recently shuttered its theaters. In many countries, health experts are advocating social distancing to help prevent the spread of the virus.