The former senator made the comment as he defended the trade group’s ratings efforts. They came under fire when the MPAA initially gave Bully, a Weinstein Co documentary about teenage bullying, an R due to characters’ use of profanity. The rating would have made the film off-limits for the very teens the movie was designed to help. (The producers ultimately cut a few of the words, and won a PG-13 rating.) Although Dodd says that the public should have a clearer sense of what goes into the decision making, he told reporters in a meeting that the people who make the judgments have “a thankless job” in a system that basically “works well.” National Association of Theatre Owners CEO John Fithian concurred. If the MPAA didn’t take on the assignment then it could result in government censorship or local ratings. That would result in havoc because “what people care about in LA is vastly different than what they care about in Omaha.” Although the ratings process results in lost ticket sales, “the alternative is far worse.”

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Fithian also said that theater owners are weighing plans to offer variable pricing for movies. Although antitrust laws prevent him from saying much about the matter, he noted that any changes would likely be limited to different fees for different nights, times or film formats — not for different movies. If theaters charged higher prices for popular films, then “you’re saying the other stuff is crap,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dodd says that the MPAA is looking at the possibility of forging agreements with Internet and tech companies to fight piracy instead of seeking legislation in Congress. He says that companies that depend on intellectual property have common cause. But he wants others to speak up so “we’re not the high profile subject matter of the conversation.” He admitted that the MPAA — in its losing effort to promote the SOPA and PIPA anti-piracy bills– “should have talked more” about the danger that pirates pose to different industries. Fithian agreed, calling the mass movement that led to the bills’ defeat “a bizarre historical event.”

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