John Fithian, Patrick Corcoran and Jackie Brenneman, who were top executives at the National Association of Theatre Owners, are joining forces to launch a new consulting firm for clients in the cinema space.
Dubbed The Fithian Group, the trio will advise clients on strategy and communications, as well as use their connections in the exhibition industry to find investors and forge partnerships. All three executives will serve as founding partners. In a press release announcing the new business, the partners stressed that they offer “more than 60 years combined experience in the cinema industry.”
And they do have deep ties to independent theater operators, as well as the major cinema chains. Fithian spent three decades at the National Association of Theatre Owners or NATO as it’s known, as its outside counsel and then as its president and CEO. He led the lobbying group through the COVID pandemic, which shut down theaters, and he helped oversee the introduction of digital projection, a costly and complicated transition. Fithian stepped down last spring and was replaced by Michael O’Leary. Brenneman and Corcoran exited the organization later in the year.
Brenneman is the former executive VP and general counsel of NATO and then helped found the Cinema Foundation, which was supposed to supply more data to exhibitors and studios, as its president. Corcoran was NATO’s former VP and its chief communications officer.
“We have spent the last couple of decades helping to guide the cinema industry through the biggest challenges it has faced,” said Fithian. “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 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 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.”