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Former top theater lobbyist and exhibition veteran John Fithian has found his next chapter.
Fithian, who headed up the National Association of Theatre Owners for nearly two decades, announced Wednesday he is launching a new consulting firm alongside two of his longtime lieutenants at NATO, Patrick Corcoran and Jackie Brenneman.
The Fithian Group will be based in Los Angeles, and is being backed financially by the three founding partners. The trio will work with companies from around the world who seek to grow, innovate and invest in the theatrical space by advising clients on strategy, building partnerships, connecting investors and assisting on strategic communications, among other things.
That could include working with clients who want to bring a more diverse range of films directly to theater owners, or are interested in creating a cinematic event (this fall, Taylor Swift famously bypassed the Hollywood studio system when partnering directly with AMC Theatres to bring her Eras Tour concert pic to the the big screen).
It could also mean working with clients who have new technologies that could enhance the theatrical experience, the three partners told The Hollywood Reporter.
“We have spent the last couple of decades helping to guide the cinema industry through the biggest challenges it has faced,” Fithian said. “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.”
The son of longtime U.S. Rep. Floyd Fithian of Indiana, Fithian began his his career working as an outside counsel (code for lobbyist) for clients including the Major League Baseball Players Association. Ultimately, cinema won him over, and in 1999 he was named president NATO. Fithian exited the post in late April when he was succeeded by Michael P. O’Leary.
A shake-up at NATO quickly followed, with Corcoran and Brenneman both departing NATO within weeks of each other. Corcoran served as the org’s longtime vice president and chief communications officer. Brenneman, who was a candidate for Fithian’s post, served as exec vp and general counsel of NATO. She also headed up the Cinema Foundation, a non-profit org affiliated with NATO.
“The way we work has always been about collaboration,” Brenneman said in the joint statement announcing the Fithian Group. “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 added, “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.”