Exhibition is the retail branch of the film industry. It involves not the production or the distribution of motion pictures, but their public screening, usually for paying customers in a site devoted to such screenings, the movie theater. What the exhibitor sells is the experience of a film (and, frequently, concessions like soft drinks and popcorn). Because exhibitors to some extent control how films are programmed, promoted, and presented to the public, they have considerable influence over the box-office success and, more importantly, the reception of films.
Though films have always been shown in nontheatrical as well as theatrical venues, the business of film exhibition primarily entails the ownership, management, and operation of theaters. Historically, film exhibitors have been faced with a number of situations common to other sectors of the commercial entertainment industry: shifting market conditions, strong competition, efforts to achieve monopolization of the field, government regulatory actions, and costly investment in new technologies.