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An Industry Gathering That Needs to Continue

19 Jul, 2012 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Michelle Horak and her father Mark Horak, of Warner Bros.

Last week’s Los Angeles Home Entertainment Summit was a grand success. Suppliers met with key disc and game retailers for intimate two-hour discussions. They played a little golf and were treated to a first-class outdoor shindig on the Warner lot.

From what I hear, not only did a lot of business get discussed, but $400,000 was raised for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, a charity near and dear to the heart of Mark Horak, president of Warner Home Entertainment, the Americas. Two of his three daughters have CF.

The timing was great: right after Comic-Con, and just as everyone’s putting their fourth-quarter strategies to bed.

And the turnout was amazing: Not only were all the big studios and game companies represented, but we also saw a lot of independent suppliers and, most importantly, gobs of retailers and distributors. Walmart alone sent more than a dozen top execs, including from the United Kingdom, Canadian, Vudu and Walmart.com teams. Other heavyweights came from Target, Best Buy, Amazon and others.

Frankly, I couldn’t help but think back to those other huge July networking events our industry used to have: you know, the ones in Las Vegas, organized by the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA, formerly Video Software Dealers Association, or VSDA). I ran into at least a dozen industry leaders I haven’t seen face-to-face since the last EMA show in Las Vegas back in July 2008.

I also was stopped by several people who said, “Hey, you’re the guy in the magazine.” Talk about déjà vu — again, that’s something I haven’t heard since the glory days of what we still fondly refer to as the “VSDA show.”

I believe it is incumbent on our industry to make this event an annual one. We are desperately in need of networking events. In the old days we had the VSDA show, the East Coast Video Show, the Home Entertainment Summit and all sorts of regional shows. Now, the only annual event where we see each other are the Entertainment AIDS Alliance’s Visionary Awards dinner and Variety’s Hall of Fame — and even those two events are notoriously shy on retailers, who remain the true drivers of our industry.

And the fact that this event has such a meaningful and important charity attached to it only makes it more worthy of our support.

Let’s work together to make the Los Angeles Entertainment Summit not a one-shot deal, but an annual event that gets bigger and better each year. Everyone needs to get involved. Our industry needs it.

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