- The movie-theater industry has been constantly innovating to
try and find new ways to get people into the seats as competition
from cheaper TVs and expanded streaming services has mounted.
- These 12 power player execs have had success doing just
- Business Insider’s list includes execs at Alamo Drafthouse,
AMC, Disney, and even the traditionally anti-theater streamer
Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Despite movie theaters being declared old news by some many
times over the last century — with the advent of radio, TV,
cable, VCRs, DVD, and now streaming — they have never gone away
and have always held a special allure for film fans.
A big reason is because the feel of watching a great movie on
the big screen with a room full of strangers is something that
stays with you for a long time.
Another reason why is because there are always people in the
business who have dedicated their careers to innovating on the
experience to get you to come back again and again. That can range
from a themed screening of your favorite movie (like what Alamo
Drafthouse does), to building a community where theaters can learn
from one another (like the Arthouse Convergence), or an executive
mapping out the best route to success for their titles.
In this inaugural list, Business Insider is recognizing execs in
the movie-theater business who have pushed the industry forward in
Here are the 12 power players, listed alphabetically by
Stephen Colanero, executive vice president and chief marketing
officer at AMC Entertainment
Colanero came on board at AMC in 2009, and though there have
been many changes in the movie business since, his guidance has
helped the largest chain in the world retain brand loyalty and
launch products built around that.
Colanero led the launch of AMC Stubs, the popular membership
program that now has more than 21 million members, as well as its
movie-ticket-subscription program, AMC Stubs A-List. Since the fall
of MoviePass, A-List has become the largest theatrical subscription
program in North America.
Megan Colligan, president of Imax Entertainment and executive vice
president of Imax Corp.
After working at Paramount for 11 years, ending her time there
as its worldwide president of marketing and distribution, Colligan
moved over to Imax last year and has spearheaded the company’s
efforts to show more than just studio blockbusters on its
Colligan has been responsible for the company’s recent big
deals, like Spike Jonze’s upcoming documentary on the Beastie Boys,
which will be shown on its screens and be streamed on Apple TV
Plus. She also led its partnership with startup Vindex to create
esports events and experiences exlusively for Imax.
Moctesuma Esparza, founder and CEO of Maya Cinemas
Since 2003, Esparza has led the way to bring the movie theater
experience to Latino-dominant communities.
And since opening that 14-screen theater in Salinas, California
16 years ago, the company has grown to include locations in
Bakersfield, Pittsburg, Fresno, and in early 2019 a location in Las
Vegas. Coming soon a Maya will be in Dallas.
John Fithian, president and CEO of the National Association of
There’s no one who bangs the drum louder about seeing movies in
theaters than Fithian. Well, it’s also his job.
As the head of NATO, Fithian is constantly working with both the
theater owners and studios to better the experience for audiences.
And that may include calling out the streaming companies now and
again — like
saying “it’s a disgrace” about the way Netflix handled its
release of “The Irishman.”
Fithian’s NATO is also behind CinemaCon, the annual trade show
and convention in Las Vegas where new innovations are revealed and
big studios show up to give glitzy presentations to the theaters of
Alison Kozberg, managing director of the Art House Convergence
In 2008, high in the mountains of Park City, Utah, a week before
the industry bombarded the area for the Sundance Film Festival, art
house theater owners met to discuss the state of the industry.
Since then, the meet has become an annual event known as the Art
House Convergence conference and has grown to become a must-attend
event for not just art house owners but heads of film festivals,
museums, film societies, and community leaders.
Kozberg oversees the year-round operations, which include
regional seminars and also a community of professionals who share
experiences to better their businesses.
Henri Mazza, vice president of content, sponsorship, and events at
For some, Alamo Drafthouse is a place where you can eat and
drink while watching a movie. For others, it’s a place that invites
you to watch “Jaws” while floating on an inner tube in the water or
scream at the screen while watching “Cats.”
These wacky ideas of how to combine a movie with its obsessive
fans in a unique and special way is the responsibility of Mazza at
He’s behind the chain’s outdoor Rolling Roadshow screenings
(where people really saw “Jaws” while in the water) and Movie Party
programming, which can range from singing along during a showing of
“Pop Star: Never Stop Never Stopping” to being given sword props so
you can duel with someone while watching “The Princess Bride.”
Will Palmer, cofounder and chief executive at Movio
As movie theaters and studios are turning more and more to AI
and algorithms to figure out audience behavior, Will Palmer’s Movio
is very busy trying to be the leader in the space.
Movio produces analytics and campaign management software to
theaters and studios, and over the last decade, its machine
learning techniques to analyze audiences (and their spending
patterns) continue to improve.
Don Savant, CEO of 4DX and ScreenX Americas
Korean-based CJ 4DPLEX, behind 4DX and ScreenX, has turned to a
former Imax executive to grow its company in the Americas.
From 2000 to 2015, Savant oversaw Imax’s huge growth in China
and he’s looking to do the same for 4DX and ScreenX here in the
States as he’s taken on the role of its CEO in the Americas.
He might be showing up at the right time.
The company said both formats together have grown to 1,011
locations worldwide. ScreenX (in which the screen is on both sides
of you in the theater, as well as in front of you) almost tripled
in revenue last year, and 4DX (in which your seat moves and there
are physical effects during the movie) had a 41% rise in box-office
revenue last year from the year before.
Kevin Shepela, chief commercial officer and executive vice
president at Fandango
Shepela has been one of the power players behind Fandango’s
dominance in the online movie ticketing space in recent years.
He has been instrumental in overseeing the strategic
partnerships with exhibitors and overseeing the global ticketing
properties under the Fandango umbrella, which include
MovieTickets.com, Flixster, Ingresso.com in Brazil, and Fandango
And over at Fandango’s crown jewel, Rotten Tomatoes, Shepela has
been hard at work with exhibitors to strengthen RT’s verified
Audience Score (which sits alongside the Tomatometer) to ensure
authentic audience reviews.
Scott Stuber, vice president of film at Netflix
Since joining Netflix in 2017, Stuber has used his connections
in Hollywood to help bring major talent over to the streaming giant
and his laid back style to extend an olive branch to the exhibition
Though Netflix has never agreed to obey the traditional
exclusive theatrical window that’s currently in place, thanks to
Stuber, things are more cordial between both sides, as evident with
AMC Theatres and Cineplex offering to shorten the theatrical window
to show “The Irishman” (eventually
both sides couldn’t come to an agreement).
Stuber was a key player in giving “The Irishman” screenings at a
legendary Broadway theater and having “Marriage Story” play at New
York City’s oldest single screen theater, The Paris (and then
having Netflix take over the movie house).
It takes a skilled hand to keep your bosses satisfied with
content to show on a service and filmmakers who want some kind of
theatrical release for their work, and Stuber is conducting a
master class in how to pull it off.
Cathleen Taff, president of theatrical distribution, franchise
management, and business/audience insights at The Walt Disney
In the movie-theater space, you could make the argument that the
most important person at Disney isn’t Bob Iger or Alan Horn, but
Taff is the one who oversees the worldwide theatrical release
strategy for Disney’s entire movie empire. That means the movies
that open for Disney, Walt Disney Animation, Pixar, Marvel,
Lucasfilm, and 20th Century Studios all go through her.
It’s led to record-breaking business at the box office the last
two years for Disney.
Renana Teperberg, chief commercial officer at Cineworld
Cineworld, which is a titan in Europe, became the second-largest
chain in the world when it bought Regal (the deal closed in 2018).
A major player in the acquisition was Teperberg, a 20-year veteran
of the company who started out her career there as a cashier at one
of its theaters.
Being that engrossed in the company has led to her becoming an
essential figure in it and she’s certainly playing a huge part in
Cineworld’s entry into the US theatrical space.
Source: FS – All – Entertainment – News
Meet the 12 power player execs in the movie-theater industry who are shaping the future of film on the big screen