NATO President & CEO John Fithian Retiring After 22 Year Run – Deadline

After more than a two decades run as the Boss of trade org the National Association of Theatre Owners, John Fithian is retiring, effective May 1, 2023. Technically, Fithian counts 30 years working for NATO, having begun working with the org as a former attorney at Washington DC’s Patton Boggs, LLC.

NATO’s Executive Board has begun a search process for Fithian’s successor.

Fithian has arguably seen his most pivotal and monumental days during the last two years of the pandemic. Not only has Fithian been a champion for theatrical windows on behalf NATO’s membership which counts over 35K screens stateside and 101 countries worldwide, however, the big screen trade boss and his team have been lynchpins in keeping exhibitors alive during largely a year and a half when they were forced to close down due to Covid from 2020-21. NATO, under Fithian, got exhibition included under the $15 billion congressional Covid-19 Relief (aka “Save Our Stages” initiative) which encompassed small- and medium- sized theaters and venues with 500 employees or less, that had lost at least 25% in revenue. This gave movie theaters access to business loans as well as the Paycheck Protection Program. As a final cherry on the cake, Fithian and his team fired up National Cinema Day over Labor Day weekend, with $3 movie tickets, in an effort to drive business to movie theaters over a slow time sans big films. The Saturday of National Cinema Day clocked 8M admission more than the total weekend admissions for Labor Day weekend 2021 when Disney/Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings brought moviegoers back big time from the doldrums of the pandemic.

“It is nearly impossible to sum up a career of three decades in a few sentences,” said Fithian. “I will leave that to others. But my highest goal was always to leave this organization and this industry stronger and more effective than I found it – and more importantly – to ensure that it remains strong and effective after I am gone. The professional and experienced staff I leave behind and the culture of service we have built together is a legacy to be proud of.”

“John’s impact on the movie theater industry is profound and lasting,” said NATO Chairman Rolando Rodriguez. “Whether in Hollywood, Washington, D.C., or internationally, NATO’s reach and effectiveness as an advocate for the movie theater industry has grown and sharpened under John’s leadership. We have big shoes to fill, and we offer John our profoundest thanks for all his years of service.”

Deadline has heard that NATO membership and studio distribution chiefs have already been informed about Fithian’s retirement.


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