NATO Names Michael P. O’Leary President & CEO, Taking Over For Theater Owners Org Boss John Fithian


The National Association of Theatre Owners on Thursday said it has appointed Michael P. O’Leary president and CEO of the association beginning May 1. He takes over for outgoing NATO boss John Fithian, who announced his retirement in October after working with the exhibitor trade org for three decades.

“On behalf of NATO’s Executive Board of Directors, we are very pleased to name Michael O’Leary to lead NATO beginning May 1, following the retirement of current President and CEO John Fithian,” said Rolando Rodriguez, NATO board chairman and senior advisor, Marcus Corporation. “Michael will be officially joining the NATO team on April 10th to work alongside John and the team for a successful transition.

He added, “Michael brings with him extensive knowledge and strategic senior leadership, having worked with and led teams within the broader entertainment industry both domestically and internationally. Michael has served in senior positions at The Entertainment Software Association, 21st Century Fox, the Motion Picture Association, on Capitol Hill and at the Department of Justice. With the help and support of our very talented NATO team, as well as our friends at the film companies, artistic community and lawmakers, we will continue to grow back the motion picture theater industry with Michael’s leadership.”

O’Leary resides in Washington, D.C. He received his law degree from the University of Arizona and is a graduate of Arizona State University.

O’Leary stated “The cinematic experience is an enduring and dynamic part of the entertainment landscape in communities everywhere. I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to work with the leaders of this iconic global industry and the talented and dedicated team at NATO to chart its next chapter.”

The public-facing transition will occur at this year’s NATO convention CinemaCon in Las Vegas (April 24-27), where Fithian will say goodbye to the industry and O’Leary says hello. O’Leary will also join the Global Cinema Federation’s executive committee.

NATO was critical in movie theaters’ survival during their Covid closures, working with the U.S. government to get proper financial bailouts and business-saving loans for their theater owner members who count more than 67K screens around the U.S. and the world. NATO was also integral in getting movie theaters back open around the country and extensively involved in Cinema Safe conditions as audiences made their way back.”

Rodriguez continued, “Also on behalf of the NATO Executive Board we want to thank John Fithian for his tremendous contributions to the exhibition industry. His leadership, dedication, commitment, accomplishments and passion will long be remembered as he retires on May 1. Thank you, John, for a great legacy. And welcome, Michael, to our NATO family.”

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