Michael P. O’Leary, an executive who has straddled the worlds of government, lobbying and media, has been named as president and CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners. He will take over from John Fithian, whose retirement after decades at the exhibition industry advocacy group was announced last year.
O’Leary will begin the transition into his new role at NATO in April. He officially takes the reins from Fithian in May.
Prior to NATO, O’Leary 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,” said Rolando Rodriguez, NATO board chairman and senior adviser of Marcus Corporation.
O’Leary takes the job at a difficult moment for the theater industry. The box office has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels, major chains such as CineWorld have been forced to file for bankruptcy or close locations, and Hollywood has failed to produce as many movies as it did before COVID upended the business.
At the same time, there are hopeful signs. More major studio films are expected to be released in 2023, among them sequels to “Fast and Furious,” “Indiana Jones,” and “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and the business has fielded massive hits such as “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Avatar: The Way of Water.”
“The cinematic experience is an enduring and dynamic part of the entertainment landscape in communities everywhere,” O’Leary said. “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.”
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.
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