Citing concerns over the COVID-19 delta variant, Walt Disney Co. executives won’t attend next month’s CinemaCon at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
Instead of attending the National Association of Theatre Owners event in person, Disney will screen an upcoming movie during its scheduled time at the convention on Aug. 25, according to news accounts.
The annual convention of theater owners, Hollywood studios, and the media is set to take place Aug, 23-26 at Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip. Last year’s event was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The CNBC business network noted that Disney’s decision to skip the convention came about a week after the company received criticism from the National Association of Theatre Owners. The association leveled complaints about the company releasing Black Widow on its Disney+ streaming service the same day the movie opened in theaters. Theater owners say this hurts ticket sales and leads to movie pirating. The association represents more than 70,000 screens in 101 countries.
It was unclear whether this criticism led to Disney’s decision to stay home, according to CNBC. Disney representatives were unavailable for comment.
By early this week, Warner Bros., Sony, and other studios had not announced plans to skip the convention.
Unvaccinated Hit ‘Relentlessly’
This decision by Disney comes as the White House has declared Las Vegas a “sustained hotspot” for COVID-19, according to CNBC.
Health officials in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Hawaii have issued warnings about traveling to Las Vegas because of Southern Nevada’s surging infections and low vaccination rate.
By late last week, Nevada had the fifth-highest seven-day average of new cases nationwide, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The state ranked 34th in the number of fully vaccinated people, standing at 51 percent of those 12 and older. The national average is 57 percent.
Cassius Lockett of the Southern Nevada Health District said the delta variant has struck the unvaccinated population “relentlessly.”
“Once it got a foothold in Southern Nevada, it quickly went through the pockets of unvaccinated people,” he told the newspaper.
As new virus cases sweep through Southern Nevada, gaming and tourism officials are attempting to slow the spread and to minimize the negative publicity.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board has required casino workers to wear face coverings, following a Clark County mandate that employees put masks on in public spaces.
Statewide, only 27 percent of Nevadans wear masks all or most of the time, according to a Las Vegas Review-Journal story citing Facebook surveys. Casino guests are not required to wear face coverings.
Earlier this year, Las Vegas had begun to see an increase in visitors. But now concerns have arisen about the impact of this current spike on visitor volumes and conventions. Since 1999, Las Vegas Strip casinos have made more money from conventions and from hotel amenities, such as entertainment and food, than from gambling.
The Clark County Commission is hearing from convention organizers worried about holding events in Las Vegas, according to KLAS-TV.
“We are getting lots of calls around the country to know if trade conventions are going to be safe to come here,” Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick said.
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