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Wednesday, December 13, 2006


The so-called Cinema Buying Group - the brain-child of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) and some misguided cinema owners/operators - was a misconceived and terrible notion from its inception.

The CBG does not offer best industry practices, does not offer best suppliers, does not offer best service, does not offer advice, does not offer training, does not offer expertise, and has no industry recognition.

I'm not sure how many exhibitors joined the original (for profit) CBG - but it is now going to be "reconstituted" as a not-for-profit entity under the NATO corporate umbrella, according to G. Kendrick Macdowell, NATO VP & General Counsel. Why? To save on costs (insurance, accounting, legal, etc.) and "thereby greatly simplify CBG's organizational and financial burdens" states NATO's Macdowell.

Why join? The original premise for the creation of the CBG was to form a buying cooperative so independent cinema operators could purchase D-Cinema Projection Equipment in quantity and thus pay less because they would be buying in volume. Since this has and will not happen, for a whole variety of reasons, the CBG has religated itself to purchasing projection booth supplies and spare parts, xenon lamps, and concession supplies/parts from a total of five so-called "prefered suppliers". These five suppliers do not offer the best products or services in the cinema industry, and using this ridiculous CBG endorsement is really just a means for them to end-run their competing - and superior - cinema equipment manufacturers and suppliers/dealers.

For, at least 75 years, there has been a symbiotic relationship that has served the cinema industry extremely well - that is the relationship between the theatre owners, the equipment suppliers/dealers/service providers, and the equipment manufacturers.

Exhibitors beware! Like cartels, cooperatives (especially those based solely on the motive of lower prices) don't work well for their members. Thinking you can go on the cheap and purchase a quality xenon lamp, popcorn, or splicing tape to save a few bucks is very short-sighted thinking. What exhibitors (like all other businesses) need are strong and trusting relationships with their suppliers/dealers. This is the only way to get the best products suited to your cinema, the best expertise and customer service and the best technical advice, service, maintenance and installation, not to mention training. Disregarding this type of relationship for one with a co-op makes no business sense.

The Cinema Buying Group is done. It was a bad concept from the get-go and offers no real benefit to the cinema industry let alone NATO members. Its creators demonstrated a total lack of appreciation and understanding of the cinema industry and its workings and the relationship between the exhibitors, the dealers/suppliers, and the equipment manufacturers. The CBG will fade away, as it should, without fanfare or recognition and retire to the annuls of cinema history.