Magazine article Screen International

MPAA Chief Charles Rivkin on Piracy, #MeToo and Netflix Challenges

Magazine article Screen International

MPAA Chief Charles Rivkin on Piracy, #MeToo and Netflix Challenges

Article excerpt

The former US ambassador to France discusses young consumers, links with Washington and the rise of SVOD.

Charles Rivkin

Charles Rivkin heads into his first CinemaCon (April 23-26) as chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) after he officially took over from Chris Dodd in September. The former US ambassador to France and assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs talks to Screen International about the opportunities and hurdles in today’s dynamic entertainment landscape, China, engaging with younger consumers and piracy.

Screen: At this relatively early stage in your tenure, what do you see as the single most pressing item on the MPAA’s agenda as the studios’ chief lobbyist?

Charles Rivkin: My immediate priorities include promoting a strong creative economy, protecting creators through effective copyright laws, reducing piracy, expanding access to global markets and incentivising film and television production to spur further job creation and growth.

I also believe the MPAA can be a better link between Hollywood and Washington. Our industry extends far beyond sound stages in Los Angeles and New York. It supports 2.1 million jobs across all 50 states. These are high-paying, largely union jobs. That’s a story I tell every day.

An industry analyst recently told the Banff Connect LA conference that the number of major US studios would dwindle to three by 2023. How would that alter the MPAA’s mandate?

Thanks to innovations in storytelling and advances in technology, creative companies are pursuing new strategies to develop and deliver the best content. This is leading to box office and commercial success, with groundbreaking films and a record number of scripted television shows. Potential industry deals or mergers are proof that content creation and distribution is an attractive investment. They show a strong market at work.

The MPAA’s advocacy is critical to the industry’s continued strength. Our mandate - supporting our member studios and the entire creative community on policy issues and reducing piracy - remains constant and could not be more important.

Netflix, Amazon, Hulu et al have presented entertainment consumers with a compelling alternative to theatre-going, while the allure of television makes it hard for filmmakers to attract stars to their projects. How does the MPAA navigate fundamental challenges such as these facing the landscape today?

Today’s incredible growth of all forms of creative content is good for audiences and good for the industry. The US box office is up nearly 13% in 2018. Audiences are enjoying great stories in amazing theatres that feature the latest technology and effects. Think about Black Panther and A Wrinkle In Time. Audiences are flocking to theatres to see these imaginative films with all-star casts that celebrate diversity and inclusion.

This is happening simultaneously with the growth of additional content platforms and billions of dollars invested in creative programming. More than 480 scripted television programmes were produced in 2017. The industry is giving consumers more choices than ever before. We’re navigating this dynamic environment by helping the entire creative economy thrive through effective advocacy on behalf of creators everywhere. …

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