For several weeks, or perhaps months, there have been whisperings that, in the wake of the industry upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) was in the process of launching a charitable non-profit. The exhibitor trade group describes the new organization as “dedicated to promoting the essential cinema exhibition industry by developing future diverse workforces and growing moviegoing communities through research, education, and philanthropy.”
Naturally, The Cinema Foundation will help promote moviegoing and work with existing charities, though it will also create a Center for Innovation and Technology to work on industry standards and ensure the exhibition business is employing the latest tech. This could be one way for exhibitors to have a voice in defining future advances in cinema technology alongside the Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) run by the studios. Data and industry research also looks to be a part of the new initiative.
The founding board of directors for The Cinema Foundation is headed up by NATO’s Jackie Brenneman and is filled with members from all areas of the industry. This means that manufacturers, filmmakers, food and beverage companies, etc. may get an opportunity to become involved with the trade group in some way, unlike NATO itself, in which only exhibitors can become members.
The new non-profit is presently accepting founding donations and is suggesting that exhibitors wanting to participate pledge 1% of their shuttered venue operators grant (SVOG).