NATO Advisor Jerry Pierce Resigns, Says EVP Jackie Brenneman Was Ousted

The digital cinema expert is third senior NATO staffer to exit org following the retirement of previous president/CEO John Fithian

Nato Patrick Corcoran

Jerry Pierce, a longtime tech advisor for the National Association of Theater Owners, has resigned from the organization and claims that its recently departed EVP and general counsel Jackie Brenneman was ousted from the organization.

Pierce is a former Universal SVP who joined NATO in 2012 and played a key role in overseeing the transition of the movie theater industry from film to digital projectors. Along with Brenneman and VP of Corporate Communications Patrick Corcoran, who stepped down in June, Pierce is the third senior NATO staffer to leave since the retirement of President/CEO John Fithian on May 1.

In his resignation letter published by The Hollywood Reporter, which first reported the departure, Pierce accused Fithian’s successor, Michael P. O’Leary, of removing Brenneman from her position as head of the Cinema Foundation. Brenneman’s departure was first reported on Monday with no reason given.

Pierce claimed that Brenneman’s ousting was proof to him of O’Leary’s “lack of understanding of the complexities of the NATO ecosystem,” and accused the president of having a “lack of interest and disrespect for the knowledge and experience of his staff.”

At NATO’s annual trade show CinemaCon earlier this year, multiple movie theater executives told TheWrap that Brenneman was a vital part of NATO’s efforts to support movie theaters when they were shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, working closely with recently retired NATO CEO John Fithian to ensure that cinema owners had access to federal and state loans and grants to remain financially solvent and to ensure that thousands of furloughed cinema employees received financial support.

In late 2021, Brenneman became president of the newly established Cinema Foundation, a nonprofit designed to develop the future of the movie theater business and to support initiatives in diversity, employment and new industry technology.

Brenneman also led the Cinema Foundation in creating National Cinema Day, an end-of-summer annual event in which thousands of theaters would sell heavily discounted tickets for all of its screenings. The second edition of the event was announced on Monday hours before Brenneman’s exit, with tickets on Sunday, Aug. 27 being sold at participating cinemas for just $4.

NATO declined to comment on Pierce’s departure.