In his first CinemaCom appearance since being anointed MPAA Chairman/CEO, Charles Rivkin spoke in bullish tones about the prospects for moviegoing, underscoring that its “heartbeat is strong.” This followed a similarly ebullient keynote by NATO CEO John Fithian this morning, both of which belied concerns that moviegoing is being impacted negatively by streaming and other disruptive alternatives.
Rivkin recalled his childhood days at The Skyway Drive-In Theater in Fish Creek, Wisconsin, using the fact that it still operates as an example of how the business is still vibrant.
“Isn’t it amazing that, for all the technology and changes in our marketplace, people still keep coming to that drive-in 70 years later? It’s the allure of the big screen. It’s the magic of film that you know so well,” said Rivkin.
Many of us thought the drive-in was the greatest until that first boy showed up at our doorstep, ready to take our daughters to the movies. Technological changes, and the high cost of real estate sent drive-ins the way of the dinosaurs, and hopefully the new MPAA chief isn’t campaigning for a renaissance. Touting MPAA figures that global box office reached $40.6B, he said that the MPAA remains committed to protecting the sanctity of moviegoing, particularly by being ever aggressive in piracy and open markets to generate economic growth.
He also reminded attending theater owners that they are “the front lines – where the vision and creativity of our studios meet the marketplace, and more importantly, the audience. You see what works and what doesn’t work. Your perspective is indispensable – and so important to all of us.”
The former president/CEO of the Jim Henson Company drew on his last job to explain the commitment.
“At the Henson Company, and WildBrain, I learned just how much intellectual property affects everyone,” Rivkin said. “Our entire business model depended on our ability to license Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and the Muppets and distribute them across the globe. I understand, on a visceral level, how important copyright is to any creative business and in particular our country’s small and medium enterprises – which are the backbone of the American economy. As Chairman and CEO of the MPAA, I guarantee you that fighting piracy in all forms remains our top priority.
“One of the ways that we’re already doing that is through the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment – or ACE as we call it. This is a coalition of 30 leading global content creators, including the MPAA’s six member studios as well as Netflix, and Amazon. We work together as a powerful team to ensure our stories are seen as they were intended to be, and that their creators are rewarded for their hard work,” said Rivkin who said that Film and TV accounts for $16.5 billion in exports.
“We export four times what we import and register a trade surplus with nearly every one of the 130 countries in which we do business – $12.2 billion in total. That is why we engage with policy makers and stakeholders around the world to open markets, remove discriminatory business and trade barriers, and protect the incredible works that drive a strong creative economy.”
Said Rivkin: “Here at home, the creativity we support and protect directly contributes to jobs and economic opportunities in every state of the union. Our industry supports 2.1 million jobs and $139 billion in wages every year. Those jobs and wages go to set builders and ticket takers. Artists and engineers. We provide economic opportunity to more than 400,000 businesses across the country. Most of them are small businesses that employ fewer than 10 people.”