Coming soon to a theater near you?
That is the question -- and theater owners found the answers this week in Las Vegas at ShoWest 2010.
The annual movie industry convention and trade show ended a four-day run Thursday, attracting 2,500 delegates to Paris Las Vegas and Bally's -- with hundreds of vendors hoping to sell them products from popcorn to projectors.
Along with the product that brings audiences to theaters in the first place: the movies themselves.
Throughout ShoWest, attendees from around the world saw sneak previews of such anticipated summer hits as "Toy Story 3" and a "Karate Kid" remake featuring Jaden Smith.
You might not recognize Jaden's name, despite his status as ShoWest's breakthrough male star of the year. But you probably know his movie-star parents, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith, who are producers on their son's movie -- and attended its ShoWest debut Wednesday.
They were far from the only marquee faces appearing at ShoWest, however.
Thursday's closing-night awards banquet brought out ShoWest's male star of the year, "Avatar's" Sam Worthington (who returns to screens April 4 in "Clash of the Titans"), with female star of the year Katherine Heigl, "Sex and the City 2" ensemble stars Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis and other honorees.
"This is super-encouraging," said Amanda Seyfried of "Mamma Mia!" and "Dear John," ShoWest's breakthrough female star of the year, who described herself as "pretty self-deprecating about my skill set."
As for "The Hangover's" Zach Galifianakis, named comedy star of the year, "I've never won anything in my life," he confessed at a pre-awards news conference, so "it's nice to win something." As for what he plans to do with the actual trophy, "I'll probably make a hat of it."
Earlier Thursday, Robert Downey Jr., Jennifer Lopez, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and the "Sex and the City" trio were among the performers and filmmakers promoting new movies.
"Enjoy this film," said veteran producer Jerry Weintraub, whose credits include the original "Karate Kid" -- and the new remake. "Then go and sell it."
Aside from the stars themselves, digital projection -- which enables theaters to show movies, such as the record-breaking "Avatar," in 3-D -- received star treatment again this year at ShoWest.
Theater owners checked out a variety of new digital and 3-D systems, including one designed for old-fashioned 35mm film projectors.
And a recent $660 million financing plan will bankroll digital upgrades at three top theater chains -- including Regal and Cinemark, Southern Nevada's major exhibitors.
Overall, the deal calls for overhauling 14,000 screens at more than a thousand theaters.
That will enable theaters to show more 3-D movies -- and there will be more 3-D movies, studio officials promised.
"There is a bit of a herd mentality -- we're all rushing to 3-D," acknowledged Warner Bros. president Alan Horn. "As the technology improves and as screen counts increase," so will the number of 3-D releases, he said. "It's just a stampede now."
Some filmmakers think that, eventually, all movies will be made and released in 3-D.
"Ultimately, 3-D's going to be ubiquitous," predicted "Avatar" producer Jon Landau.
"It's the same as saying, 'Pretty soon every movie's going to be in color,' " said "Hangover" director Todd Phillips, ShoWest's director of the year.
In Landau's view, "the exciting thing about 3-D is that it's restored the belief that the cinemagoing experience can be magical."
And that magical experience remains paramount to audiences and filmmakers alike.
"To me, the theatrical presentation is what movies are," said "Dark Knight" director Christopher Nolan, whose futuristic new summer thriller, "Inception," stars Leonardo DiCaprio.
"As an audience member, I value waiting for the lights to go down" and visiting "an entire world where you can go for two hours," Nolan told theater owners. "It's what grand-scale Hollywood entertainment is all about."
But ShoWest, for all its silver-screen magic, also is about the nuts-and-bolts of running a theater.
"We do a lot of business -- we see the new products, order candy, check out the new equipment," explained Sandy Schoenbrun , who operates independent theaters in Belleville and Sparta, Ill. And "we visit with our friends."
That's hardly surprising because ShoWest is "where everyone comes together," said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for the Hollywood.com Internet site. "There's a vibe you can pick up here."
And this year's ShoWest vibe reflected a record-setting 2009 at the box-office -- with $10.9 billion in North American ticket sales -- and optimisim regarding this year's prospects.
"When the economy's down, the movie industry seems to do well," Schoenbrun observed. "It's an escape for people. Maybe they can't afford a vacation, but they can afford a movie."
Contact reporter Carol Cling at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0272.