Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi to Retire at End of 2021

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Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi has announced plans to retire at the end of the year.

Sean Gamble, the movie theater chain’s current CFO and COO, has been named as Zoradi’s successor and will assume the CEO role effective Jan. 1, 2022. Starting Wednesday, Gamble has been upped to president and will work closely with Zoradi over the next five months to ensure a smooth transition.

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Zoradi, who previously ran distribution at Disney before taking the top post at Cinemark in 2015, will remain on the company’s board of directors until 2024.

“Serving as Cinemark’s CEO during the past six years has truly been the highlight of my career,” Zoradi said in a statement. “While I’ve been in the industry for more than four decades, the vast majority was spent on the studio side of the business. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed participating in all aspects of theatrical exhibition and will treasure the time spent and deep connections established with the Cinemark team, as well as the many other industry relationships formed around the world.”

Zoradi’s retirement comes after a tumultuous period for film exhibitors. For much of the pandemic, cinemas across the globe were entirely closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. When multiplexes were able to reopen, many struggled to keep the lights on due to the lack of new films and audiences’ hesitancy about returning to multiplexes. Initially, Zoradi had planned to step down in 2020 but did not want to leave the company amid an industry-altering pandemic. Though the movie theater industry has begun to rebound, it still faces significant challenges, including the collapsed theatrical window and the threat of new variants of the virus.

Zoradi praised Gamble for guiding the company during the maelstrom of COVID-19. Prior to joining Cinemark, Gamble worked at Universal Pictures as the studio’s executive VP and CFO and held multiple senior leadership roles within the General Electric company.

“Sean has been a tremendous partner in overseeing Cinemark’s operational execution and strategic vision, as well as effectively navigating the prolonged effects of COVID-19,” Zoradi said. “As the industry is now on the path to recovery from the pandemic, I felt it was time to begin transitioning the CEO role to Sean’s capable hands. I have full confidence in Sean’s leadership abilities, particularly with the strength and depth of the executive team, and I look forward to continuing our relationship in my Board Director capacity.”

As part of the executive leadership transition, Cinemark also announced the promotion of three executives: Wanda Gierhart Fearing has been promoted to chief marketing and content officer, Damian Wardle has been promoted to executive VP of theater and technology operations, and Sid Srivastava has been promoted to executive VP of human Resources, diversity, equity and inclusion and corporate social responsibility. Cinemark is currently searching for Gamble’s successor as CFO.

Lee Roy Mitchell, Cinemark’s founder and executive chairman, said the company is “thrilled” that Zoradi will remain on its board of directors after his retirement.

“We are grateful for Mark and the significant impact he has made on our company, and our industry, during his tenure as CEO. Mark reinvigorated a culture of innovation and evolution in our company, challenging the teams’ line of thought and rationale, all while staying steady at the helm when our industry needed him most,” Mitchell said. “As an integral member of the executive leadership team with a consistent emphasis on innovation, growth and process improvement, Sean has proven to be the natural successor following Mark’s retirement. He will continue the momentum of the company as it recovers from COVID-19 and further solidify our industry-leading position.”

Gamble called it an “honor” to be named Cinemark’s next CEO.

“In this role, I will aim to continue building upon Cinemark’s over 35-year history of growth, industry leadership and entertaining guests through an unparalleled cinematic experience,” he said. “I look forward to continuing to work closely with our exceptional leadership team and board of directors as we drive a wide range of consumer-facing and productivity initiatives that will position Cinemark for ongoing success in the evolving media and entertainment landscape.”

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