Former National Association of Theatre Owners executives John Fithian, Patrick Corcoran and Jackie Brenneman have launched a new consulting firm The Fithian Group to advise global exhibition clients on strategy, partnerships, innovation and strategic communications.
“We have spent the last couple of decades helping to guide the cinema industry through the biggest challenges it has faced,” said Fithian, who retired from NATO in May after more than two decades at the helm. “Now, having survived those challenges, we want to help our industry clients seize opportunities and grow. Digital cinema, the long fight for theatrical exclusivity, the pandemic and Hollywood going all-in on streaming – we got through all that, and now, the major Hollywood labor agreements are another signal that it is the time to build.”
NATO, under Fithian, worked to get exhibition included in the $15 billion congressional Covid-19 Relief (Save Our Stages initiative) for small and mid-sized theaters and venues with 500 employees or less, giving movie theaters access to business loans and the Paycheck Protection Program.
He was backed by Brenneman, who exited in August as NATO’s former EVP & General Counsel. Brenneman was one of the founders and the president of NATO sister org, The Cinema Foundation.
“The way we work has always been about collaboration,” Brenneman said. “We extend that way of working to how we build value for our clients. In our trade association days, we knew that theater owners needed allies, whether it was other cinema owners around the world, technology companies, the creative community, or distributors, and we worked tirelessly to build those connections. They paid off in times of crisis and we believe we can leverage these partnerships to help our clients grow in times of opportunity.”
Corcoran, NATO’s longtime VP and chief communications officer who departed in June, said, “We have always believed that the cinema industry was essential and strong. Telling that story to the press, the public, and Wall Street has always been a priority for us. What the cinema industry needs is more: more movies, more innovation, more diversity and more investment. We will continue to tell that story on behalf of our clients in the industry.”
Fithian announced his plans to retire last last fall and Michael O’Leary (formerly of the Entertainment Software Association, 21st Century Fox and the MPA) was tapped to replace him. The official handoff took place at CinemaCon in Las Vegas with both attending.