CinemaCon Honorees Include Saudi Arabia, Focus Features, Dune Team

In addition to Constantin Films’ Martin Moszkowicz receiving CinemaCon’s Career Achievement in Film, other executives will be feted at this year’s trade show.

Global Achievement in Exhibition
Renana Teperberg
Chief Commercial Officer, Cineworld Group
Teperberg lives the lifestyle of her CinemaCon Global Achievement in Exhibition Award. As chief commercial officer at Cineworld Group, Teperberg lives in Tel Aviv, but is a frequent traveler on weekdays to the London headquarters of her multinational circuit and also its Regal Cinemas operation based in Knoxville, Tenn.

Her duties range from e-commerce, marketing, food service, HR, new product and business development. For film, that’s studio relations, film buying and scheduling. Development initiatives aim to to expand Cineworld beyond its core business to retail and kids playgrounds attached to theaters. Teperberg is also on the Cineworld board of directors.

The Cineworld circuit spans 10 countries with 9,185 screens at 754 theaters and employs more than 30,000 people.

Teperberg isn’t worried that consumers might lose interest because of home entertainment. “If there is one thing that’s very clear, it is that people want to go out and go to cinemas,” Teperberg says. “People want to be together with others and have a social experience. My hope is that we can continue to operate normally” after pandemic disruptions.

Starting as a cinema cashier in Jerusalem in 1997, Teperberg worked her way up the ranks, and today is a proponent of promoting from within.

She says that insights from having ground-floor experience makes for savvy employees including those who know to avoid disrupting in-theater flow of big crowds on blockbuster weekends. So, during the “Spider-Man: No Way Home” opening, some staff dressed up as the Spidey character, which was no intrusion yet still injected “more fun and made it a celebration,” Teperberg says.

CinemaCon Passepartout Award
Jeffrey Forman
Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution
Globe-trotting Disney executive Forman this year’s CinemaCon’s Passepartout Award honoree for excellence in the international marketplace. Forman is senior vice president of international sales at Disney media and entertainment distribution, where he was boots on the ground opening offices across the Asia-Pacific region in the 1990s. That was for Disney taking distribution of its films in-house after previously going through another major studio.

Forman joined Disney in 1991 and in 1999 moved back to Los Angeles, where he supervised the studio’s distribution across the Asia-Pacific region. In 2010, he was promoted to lead Disney’s international distribution organization. In his career, Forman has marketed over 500 films including Disney blockbusters.

He doesn’t fret over the future of cinema amid competition for movies with in-home media options. “People are social b y nature,” Forman says. “And they’ve proven again and again that they will show up for experiences that move them. They want to share magical stories on the big screen together.”

Born in Portland, Ore., Forman connected to cinema early as his father worked at the family business at Pacific Theaters. At age 16, he became an usher at the ground-breaking Cinerama Dome in the heart of Hollywood and during college worked summers at Warner Bros.’ domestic film department. After college, he practiced real estate law before decamping for Disney.

Looking into his crystal ball, Forman says cinema needs to offer a high-tech presentation for “a fantastic and immersive experience that they can’t find anywhere else.” Movies with compelling stories and intriguing characters are also a must. “Good popcorn always helps, too!” he adds.

Comscore Emerging Market Spotlight Award
Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia posted $239 million in 2021 box office, after generating zippo six years ago because of a lack of operating cinemas. Analysts now project that the Middle East territory will surpass box office of $1 billion later this decade, as theater-building progresses. (Pictured: VOX Cinema hall in Jiddah.) With its supercharged growth, Saudi Arabia receives the Comscore Emerging Market Spotlight Award at CinemaCon. “This is the very definition of what an emerging market looks like,” says Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at media research giant Comscore. “The trajectory is incredibly impressive even with the impact of pandemic landing in these growth years.”

With the end of 35 years of a movie theater ban, the doors are now open in an affluent territory with a population of 35 million. About two-thirds of that population is under age 30, which represents cinema’s coveted youth-audience demographic.

In 2021, the territory’s 53 cinemas with 456 screens generated 13.3 million admissions, according to Comscore. Relaunching in 2018, two theaters posted just 149,575 admissions. For 2021, the top grosser is Egyptian reunion comedy “Waafet Reggala” (“A Stand Worthy of Men”), while seven of the top 10 cinema titles are Hollywood imports that consistently dominate Saudi box office charts. A top-grossing film in 2021 generated around $15 million, about double the prior year.

The leading circuits are Saudi-owned Muvi Cinemas, Dubai-based Vox Cinemas, U.S.-based multinational AMC Entertainment, Lebanon’s Prime/Empire Cinema, and Mexico’s Cinépolis Gulf.

“Despite the hell that the industry has been through during the pandemic, there are still areas of growth,” says Arturo Guillén, Comscore executive VP and global managing director. “No matter what happens, people want to go to cinemas.”

NATO Marquee Award
Ellis Jacob
President & CEO, Cineplex
Born in Calcutta, India, Jacob says he never imagined when he moved to Canada at age 15 that he’d eventually run the territory’s largest theater circuit. The Toronto-based president and CEO of Cineplex is the 2022 NATO Marquee Award honoree.

Top-of-mind today for Ellis isn’t streaming competition or the pandemic hangover, but Cineplex’s 10,000 workers delivering a great cinema experience to customers. “We encourage our employees to be open-minded and entrepreneurial,” he says.

Cineplex’s entrepreneurial outlet is its Rec Room location-based entertainment business of 13 operations, most of which aren’t attached to theaters. The Rec Room is location-based entertainment with recreational games, live entertainment and dining under one roof. “It’s really connecting the entertainment experience,” Jacob says.

Cineplex is Canada’s largest exhibitor with 160 movie theaters with 1,652 screens, and even does cross-border U.S. trade with its Player One Amusement Group, which services businesses with amusement, recreational gaming and vending equipment. Its customer loyalty program Scene is the largest for any industry in Canada.

From an immigrant-family background, Jacob worked in various industries before settling in exhibition and movies. He co-founded the Galaxy Entertainment theater circuit in 1999, which is now part of Cineplex.

Jacob today sits on many industry and Canadian civic organization boards including NATO, where he was the first non-American to serve as chairman. Jacob says he’s appreciative and humbled by the Marquee award, which comes after 34 years of living through ups and downs in exhibition. And with more to come.

Intl. Filmmakers of the Year
Denis Villeneuve and Mary Parent
Parent and Villeneuve, the producing and directing forces behind Legendary Entertainment-made “Dune,” receive the Intl. Filmmakers of the Year from CinemaCon. The sci-fi epic grossed $108 million domestically and $400 million in worldwide box office for distributor Warner Bros. “Dune” won six Oscars, including for visual effects and production design, which is the most for any single film at this year’s Academy Awards.

Parent, chairman of worldwide production at Legendary Entertainment, was hands-on on Legendary blockbusters including “Godzilla vs. Kong,” “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” “Enola Holmes” and “Pokémon: Detective Pikachu.” Her career and credits include an Oscar nom for best picture “The Revenant.” Her earlier credits include “Kong: Skull Island,” “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water,” “Godzilla,” “Noah,” “Pacific Rim” and “You, Me, and Dupree.”

Parent received the Producers Guild’s 2022 David O. Selznick Achievement Award in March.
Working on the creative side of movies is three-time Oscar nominee Villeneuve, the director of acclaimed films including “Blade Runner 2049,” “Incendies” and “Arrival.” He’s prepping a sequel to “Dune.”

CinemaCon Spirit of the Industry Award
Focus Features on the Occasion of Its 20th Anniversary
Acclaimed for such Oscar-winning films as “Brokeback Mountain,” “Belfast” (pictured) and “Lost in Translation,” Focus Features is honored on its 20th anniversary with NATO’s Spirit of the Industry Award at CinemaCon.
The specialty film distributor is a corporate sibling to Universal, and is thriving under chairman Peter Kujawski and vice chairman Jason Cassidy.

Over the past 20 years, Focus has released 166 films that collected 143 Academy Award nominations and 27 Oscar wins. The most common thread is an upmarket orientation with serious subject matter and compelling storytelling.

NATO “has been a tremendous partner over our 20 years as specialty studio and particularly over the past 25 months, where with their support we have been able to open 22 films exclusively in theaters,” says Focus president of distribution Lisa Bunnell. “We have no plans to slow down as we have 12 films set for release in 2022 and we just completed our two busiest years of production ever by getting 15 productions safely up and running.”

Bunnell was previously honored with the Bingham Ray Spirit Award at ShowEast. Leading Focus films include 2019 release “Downton Abbey,” which grossed $97 million in domestic box office; the next film in the “Downtown Abbey” franchise, “Downtown Abbey: A New Era,” is set for May 20, while other films on its slate include “The Northmen” and “You Won’t Be Alone.”

TIPSHEET
WHAT: CinemaCon 2022
WHEN: April 25-28
WHERE: Caesars Palce, Las Vegas
WEB: cinemacon.com

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