During his state of the industry address today at CinemaCon, MPAA Chairman and CEO Chris Dodd showed two videos of below-the-line crew members discussing their craft — guys who normally might go unnoticed by the public eye. The first was of car mechanic Ted Moser who re-builds different types of autos to meet the needs of specific film scenes. He had to modify a truck that normally goes 35 mph, to travel at 70 mph for the air strip escape scene in Ben Affleck’s Oscar-winning Best Picture Argo. The second clip, at the end of Dodd’s speech, focused on costume illustrator Phillip Boutte Jr., who works on such fanboy films as Star Trek 3 and X-Men: Apocalypse.
The videos were part of Dodd’s campaign to show how the film and TV industry supports nearly 2 million workers, and that piracy impacts such hard-working folks as Moser and Boutte Jr. “Where you watch films matters,” asserted Dodd to CinemaCon attendees, illustrating how such livelihoods are threatened by film piracy. And it’s one of the reasons he’s starting WhereToWatch.com.
“This morning, and every morning, 1.9 million American workers, including the people who work with you in your theaters went to work at a job that depends directly or indirectly on the film and television industry. Yet, as all of you know, far too many of their contributions are often overlooked. As head of the Motion Picture Association of America, I have made it a priority to educate the moviegoing public about our industry, by shining a light on these remarkable, hardworking employees and creators,” Dodd continued.
Dodd’s hope in launching WhereToWatch.com, is that audiences will find the content they’re looking for legally. Via the website, users can find the latest movies showing in their community theaters and order tickets through Fandango or Movietickets.com. In addition, if moviegoers are looking for films online, WhereToWatch.com will show which sites and at what prices those movies are available.
In a statement following Dodd’s speech, the MPAA said that with their new initiative, “Legitimately accessing content rewards the creators that drive America’s flourishing motion picture and TV industry, a nationwide economic sector that exports six times what it imports and pays an average wage of $84,000.”
The question remains whether WhereToWatch will help deter online pirates — many of them young, the bulk of them outside the United States. After Furious 7 set a record opening weekend in April with $147.2M, Piracy watcher Excipio reported that the Universal pic was downloaded 2.6M times during its opening weekend. 50 Shades Of Grey had 300K illegal downloads during its opening weekend while last year’s Guardians Of The Galaxy had 200k. The top countries for piracy of F7 during its first five days were India (578K downloads), Pakistan (321K), China (289K), the U.S. (251K) and Great Britain (101K).
Senator Dodd continued: “On a broader level, this effort is also a crucial recognition of the changing technological landscape, and the need to continue evolving to meet the demands of our consumers. That will mean finding new ways to enable audiences to see movies where and how they want, while maintaining the magic and unrivaled appeal of the theater-going experience that has been this industry’s driving force for well over a century.”