Exhibition execs face several controversial matters, but “there’s peace in the homeland” in their relationships with studios, NATO‘s John Fithian said in his annual joint press meeting with MPAA‘s Chris Dodd at the CinemaCon confab. The lobby group heads always emphasize the positive, but this time Fithian sounds like he means it. He acknowledged that there’s been a friction in previous years — especially 2011 when there was what he calls a “very public food fight” over how quickly studios can release their films on home video. But now “we’re working together instead of fighting. …Since then it’s been dialogue and cooperation.” Dodd says his MPAA members agree that “the best experience for their product is in the theater.”
On one hot-button issue, texting in theaters, Fithian says that his members “have conversations every week” about whether to allow it under certain circumstances. But it’s unlikely that anything will change soon. When some execs said here two years ago that they’re looking at the matter, “They got barraged from moviegoers saying, ‘that is my last refuge of peace.’…Then the 17 year olds respond and say, ‘we have to be connected.’ ” The sense, for now, is that “the vast majority of our consumers go to the cinema to escape” with many looking at moviegoing as “a quasi-religious experience.” But Fithian says “it’ll be an evolving space. Let’s leave it there.”
Related: CinemaCon: MPAA’s 2014 Report Good News For Overseas: Slideshow
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These are old themes for the MPAA chief, but he had some fresh data to support his case in his presentation at CinemaCon this morning. He says that box office in China soared to $3.6B in 2013, a year when sales in the U.S. and Canada hit $10.9B (+1%) and overseas hit $25B (+4.6%). Chris Dodd says that 13 new screens are opening each day in China and cited rapid growth of modern theaters in countries such as Cambodia and Pakistan. He also said that he has lost none of his zeal to fight piracy globally. It “is today, and shall remain as long as I have this job, a top priority.” He thanked theater owners for helping to crack down on the illegal use of camcorders. “The good news is we are making some progress.” He adds, though, that the industry has to see technology as “our friend and not our foe. … The most frequent moviegoers tend to own more technological devices than the population at large.” Read More »
The Hollywood’s lobby group’s finances took a hit in 2012, a tax filing shows — but CEO Chris Dodd did just fine even as the MPAA licked its wounds from its failed effort to promote tough anti-piracy legislation. Dodd’s compensation came to $3.3M last year. (The package: $3M base compensation, $250,000 bonus, $41,930 other compensation, $13,753 retirement benefit, and $19,585 non-tax benefit.) That’s up 36.5% but it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison since he worked a partial year in 2011 beginning in March. The MPAA saw its year-end loss increase nearly 587% to $1.7M on revenues of $68.1M. Although the top line was +12%, mostly from members’ increased dues payments, it was more than offset by a 14% increase in expenses. The biggest increase went to unspecified “other” expenses — mostly fees to consultants and vendors — which rose 81% to nearly $4.5M. Advertising and promotion were +329% to $2.2M. Pension plan was +132% to $2.1M. That’s partly due to a reclassification of the operation’s matching payments for 401K savers; it was formerly listed as a benefit — the pension and benefit outlays together were +12%. A $382,500 severance payment for former EVP Fritz Attaway was accrued earlier, and had a minimal impact on the 2012 total. The tally also doesn’t include a $1M severance payment to former CEO Robert Pisano. Salaries increased 10% to $17.3M. The … Read More »
When the Commerce Department reported this morning that the Gross Domestic Product rose 1.7% from April through June, the figure was 3% higher than expected — and that’s partly due to the change, MPAA chief Chris Dodd says in a blog post. The department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis revises its GDP calculation policies every five years, and this is the first time that it folded in R&D investments for creative work. It also revised its GDP numbers to incorporate the investments going back to 1929. That resulted in an average 3% bump, Dodd says, including $471B last year to bring the size of economic output to $16.2T. In Q2 this year investments in films, television shows, literature and music amounted to $75.3B. “For years, the BEA treated the money that was spent creating new entertainment works as current expenses — or costs of business,” Dodd says. “Therefore the film and television industry was captured in the GDP only downstream based on revenue generated by film and television products, and did not include the impact on the economy based on their investment.” Now the investments in film and TV are treated as intangible assets, not expenses. It reflects the new view that “Long after they’re first developed, these creations continue to retain their value and deliver residual benefits,” Dodd says.
The trade group CEO helped it to justify its status as a non-profit in his first year as Hollywood’s chief lobbyist. Although revenues grew 22.5% to $60.8M in 2011, expenses were up 26.2% to $61M resulting in a loss of $246,879, according to the tax form posted online by Torrentfreak. Chris Dodd‘s compensation accounted for 4% of MPAA‘s revenues: It included a salary of $2.27M, a $100,000 bonus, $36,924 in other reportable compensation, $13,475 in retirement and deferred compensation, and $10,733 in nontaxable benefits. Total salaries for the 205 employees jumped 22.5% to $26.5M. (Former MPAA President Robert Pisano, listed as special adviser, made $1.35M.) The form doesn’t provide year-over-year comparisons for individual items. But it shows that in 2011 — as the MPAA geared up for its failed effort to persuade Congress to pass anti-piracy legislation — it spent $4.7M on lobbying and $10.1M on legal expenses, as well as $2.9M for occupancy and $1.9M for travel. Read More »
Hollywood was quick to respond to last Friday’s horrible school shooting in Newtown, Conn, cancelling red carpets and postponing TV programs that showed anything close to violent behavior involving guns and kids. But the greater industry bodies have been mostly mum. Maybe that will change now that the Obama Administration is asking for all hands on deck to address the broader issues of violence in America and politicians are beginning to focus on an entertainment culture — TV, movies and video games specifically — that many believe contributes to violent behavior. Case in point: Here’s today’s statement by MPAA chairman (and former Connecticut senator) Chris Dodd, saying the film and TV industry is ready to help.
WASHINGTON — The following is a statement from Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA):
“As a citizen of Connecticut and having represented the people there for 36 years in Washington, I have been shocked and profoundly saddened by this tragedy. My heart goes out to the community as I know they will carry this pain with them long after the spotlight on Newtown has dimmed.
As chairman of the MPAA and on behalf of the motion picture and television studios we represent, we join all Americans in expressing our sympathy as well as our horror and outrage at this senseless act of violence. Thus, I have reached out to the Administration to express our support
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If you’re on Facebook, you’ve probably seen a statement loaded with legalese that users post hoping to create a copyright protection for their content. It’s based on a belief that the social network company changed its rules so it can exploit the material. A minor, and mistaken, rumor? Perhaps. But MPAA chief Chris Dodd writes on the Huffington Post today that it “provides average Internet users with some insight into the point of view of the creators of movies, music or other artistic endeavors whose work has been subject to online theft” and indicates why “copyright protection is more important than ever.” It’s a sensitive point: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg — like most tech execs — opposed the MPAA’s failed effort early this year to persuade Congress to crack down on Internet piracy. Dodd says that ”it’s critically important that we continue a collaborative conversation with the tech community about how we can protect an Internet that works for everyone….The studios I represent call them audiences and the tech companies call them users, but giving people the best possible experience is a shared goal because at the end of the day, we all report to the consumer.” The misunderstanding at Facebook “is a great reminder of that.”
Hollywood moguls haven’t given up on their goal of persuading Congress to adopt anti-piracy initiatives. But their lobby group the MPAA is promoting the controversial issue gingerly, issuing today its first-ever election-season memo of stats and talking points for candidates and “interested parties.” It extols Hollywood’s multibillion-dollar contribution to the economy and employment, as well as technological innovation. But it also promotes the need for new copyright protection strategies and opens the door to legislation similar to the Stop Internet Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA), which were beaten back in January following vigorous opposition by the tech industry and free speech advocates. The document (read it here) says that copyright protection “is critical to ensuring” that entertainment companies can “benefit from their creations” online. It also says there’s no need to fear that the government might use new anti-piracy powers to crack down on dissident speech or legitimate Internet businesses. “We can protect creative works while ensuring that the Internet works for everyone,” the MPAA says.
Related: MPAA’s Chris Dodd & NATO’s John Fithian Face Sundance Wrath Over SOPA/PIPA Read More »
Just like it did for the Republicans during their convention last week, the MPAA has given the thumbs up to the Democrats for their stance on intellectual property and Internet freedom. This comes as the Democrats kick off their three day convention in Charlotte, NC today. “The administration is vigorously protecting U.S. intellectual property….As technology advances, we will continue to work with all stakeholders to protect the security of the nation and its knowledge assets, U.S. intellectual property, the functioning of fair and competitive markets, and the privacy, free expression, and due process rights of Americans,” says the Democrats’ platform, released today. On the issue of Internet freedom, the DNC platform says the party wants “to preserve the Internet as a platform for commerce, debate, learning, and innovation in the 21st century, we successfully negotiated international Internet policymaking principles, support the current multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance, and oppose the extension of intergovernmental controls over the Internet.”
The 2012 election is the first time that both the Democrats and the GOP have included mention of Internet freedom in their platforms. They also reflect the difference between the two major parties, with the Democrats wanting government to be the protector of privacy rights, while Republicans want less regulation and federal “overreach,” as they said in their platform last week.
Chris Dodd today issued this statement today about the Dems’ plank:
“I am extremely pleased that the Democratic Party’s platform language reinforces the
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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.”
Related: MPAA And NATO Chiefs Pledge Cooperation After Last Year’s “Sour Note” Read More »
The CEOs of the MPAA and the National Association of Theatre Owners used their opening addresses to the exhibition industry’s CinemaCon convention today to advocate a new spirit of cooperation between the embattled and often warring businesses. Last year’s convention “ended on a sour note,” NATO CEO John Fithian said, when word spread that three studios planned to launch a premium VOD experiment — they let DirecTV offer some movies two months after their theatrical release for $30 a viewing. That threatened to give audiences an incentive to stay at home, theater owners feared. But Fithian says that the experiment “was not a resounding success.” Now, he says, theaters and studios are “talking about how to grow the business together.” MPAA chief Chris Dodd also talked up the need to persuade audiences that “the movie-going experience remains something special, something to be savored and enjoyed, something so innovative and creative that it cannot be duplicated at home no matter how many boxes they have.” He also thanked theater owners for supporting a big issue on his agenda: legislation to combat movie piracy. The MPAA ended up with a black eye this year when it failed to persuade Congress to pass the controversial bills that would have empowered the government to block sites run by overseas pirates. “I urge you to continue to be a part of a thoughtful and rational solution to protecting intellectual property,” Dodd told theater owners. He added that he remains “committed to doing all I can to achieve a satisfactory resolution to the protection of intellectual property” and is trying to build bridges to the tech industry which opposed the bills.
Related: Sacha Baron Cohen Steals The Show At Paramount Presentation
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MPAA head Chris Dodd and John Fithian, president/CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners, brought their lobbying on behalf of content creators to a packed house at the Sundance Film Festival today. Both admitted to the panel they were blindsided by the swift backlash their organizations faced in their effort to pass the U.S. House of Representatives’ Stop Online Piracy Act and the U.S. Senate’s version Protect IP Act. The panel’s moderator called the MPAA and NATO to task for the legislation’s effective defeat: “You got your butt kicked.” It follows heavyweights like Google, Wikipedia, and thousands of websites joining forces and protesting what they claimed was a move to suppress free speech.
NATO’s Fithian said he had never witnessed such a reversal in momentum considering the legislation’s passage seemed all but assured in October. “This was the most amazing turnaround of public opinion in the 25 years I’ve been a professional lobbyist. We were up there since Day One and took 25 of my [exhibitor] CEOs and met with 50 members of Congress. We asked each member of Congress if there was anything they need to make the legislation clear and nobody said anything. Google read the legislation at the same time and didn’t say a word. But in November the greatest backlash ever occurred.” Fithian described the pushback as scare-mongering that convinced the public the legislation would shut down the internet. “For people who have spent … Read More »
Here’s MPAA CEO Chris Dodd’s response to Sen. Harry Reid’s decision this morning to postpone the vote planned for next week on the Protect IP Act:
“We applaud those leaders in Washington who have chosen to stand with the millions of hard working Americans all across this nation whose livelihoods are threatened by foreign criminal websites designed to steal. As a consequence of failing to act, there will continue to be a safe haven for foreign thieves; American jobs will continue to be lost; and consumers will continue to be exposed to fraudulent and dangerous products peddled by foreign criminals.
With today’s announcement, we hope the dynamics of the conversation can change and become a sincere discussion about how best to protect the millions of American jobs affected by the theft of American intellectual property. The threat posed by these criminal operations has been widely acknowledged by even the most ardent critics. It is incumbent that they now sincerely work with all of us to achieve a meaningful solution to this critically important goal.”
The movie industry’s chief lobbyist appeared on Bloomberg TV to defend the current and controversial Stop Online Piracy Act winding its way through the U.S. House. He reiterates that opponents and proponents of the legislation agree that something must be done to curb online content theft, but it’s hard to believe the two sides will agree on much of anything at this point in the contentious debate.
Ronald Reagan Film Career To Be Honored In Washington DC Nov. 14 By Motion Picture Industry & Reagan Centennial Celebration
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Chris Dodd, CEO and Chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) along with Frederick J. Ryan, Jr., Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, are pleased to announce their partnership in programs honoring the contributions of Ronald Reagan to the motion picture industry to take place on November 14, 2011.
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Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman/CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, today set the new leadership team under his watch, including a promotion for Michael O’Leary to SEVP of Global Policy and External Affairs. Dodd also brought in his former Deputy Chief Of Staff from his U.S. Senate days Lori McGrogan to become Senior Adviser To The Chairman. He also revamped the internal PR staff, hiring Laura Nichols, now MPAA’s EVP Global Communications.
O’Leary, in his new role, will supervise all international, federal and state affairs operations. In addition, O’Leary will oversee the Association’s technology and research efforts. Previously, he had been EVP of Government Affairs, responsible for the development and the implementation of the MPAA’s domestic government policy priorities and federal and state legislative and regulatory strategies. According to his official bio, O’Leary has nearly 20 years of intellectual property policy and enforcement experience. Before coming to work for the MPAA, O’Leary served as Deputy Chief for Intellectual Property in the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the Department of Justice, where he prosecuted and supervised major domestic and international criminal intellectual property investigations and prosecutions.
Dodd said in a statement: “The creative community’s voice in Washington will be critical in the months and years ahead as our leaders debate what will be the best, most cost-effective ways to produce new jobs and protect the ones we have. We’ve assembled a senior team, who, together … Read More »
MPAA chairman and CEO Chris Dodd and News Corp. boss Rupert Murdoch both made appearances at the Shanghai International Film Festival, which kicked off over the weekend. And both took different approaches to a mostly contentious relationship between the host country and Hollywood. Dodd gave a keynote speech in front of a number of government officials and Chinese film industry leaders at the fest’s co-production forum, praising China’s strides and mostly playing nice in his official remarks, saying things like, “All the ingredients are there for China’s film industry to become a major player on the world stage, just as China has always been a major player on the world cultural stage.” On the sidelines he was slightly more pointed about what Hollywood sees as serious problems with China — piracy and a restriction on foreign studios distributing movies there — but there was nothing in his speech, for example, about China recently ignoring a WTO-imposed deadline to open its borders to foreign-distributed fare. Dodd’s explanation when pressed by the Associated Press: ”I will not ignore the concerns that Hollywood has raised for years, but I will not fail as well to acknowledge and indeed celebrate, if you will, the progress we have made.” He added, “I’ve been around long enough to know that … if I’m going to have a productive conversation with you about something, I’m not going to start off by punching you in the nose.” Meanwhile, Murdoch … Read More »
WASHINGTON DC: New MPAA chief Chris Dodd will deliver his first speech about Hollywood issues to a non-industry audience next week. He did tell me, though, that he’s preparing to enlist the government’s help in fighting piracy overseas. [Nikki UPDATES: Fat chance, since Dodd is a longtime Democrat, and the Republicans have already taken over the House of Representatives and are now targeting the Senate, too. The GOP and showbiz are barely on speaking terms. But of all the out-of-work Congressional blowhards which the MPAA could have hired, I don't understand why it chose an ethically challenged one in the person of Chris Dodd, whose efficacy and integrity is now at such a low point that every sitting Congressional member would and should be justified in shunning him.]
That said, the MPAA threw a kind of coming-out party for its new topper Friday night. Saturday Night Live’s Seth Meyers provided the only star power at the cocktail reception in the MPAA’s Washington headquarters, and he didn’t even perform since he’ll do standup in front of 2,600 VIPs Saturday night at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. It was Dodd’s pal, SNL creator Lorne Michaels, who persuaded Meyers to mix and mingle with the MPAA before the weekend’s main event. Dodd also didn’t address the group. Instead, the retired U.S, who juggled hors d’oeuvres from Top Chef All Stars runner-up Mike Isabella while listening to a pianist play lounge-bar renditions of The Lady Is A Tramp and Beauty And The Beast. Still, … Read More »
Christopher Dodd is addressing attendees at the National Association of Theatre Owners’ CinemaCon convention today in Las Vegas. In his first true public comments as chairman and CEO of the MPAA, he stresses a couple of times that he’s had the gig for only nine days. Still, he touched on the points MPAA chiefs are supposed to touch on: the importance of exhibition, the dangers of intellectual property theft and continuing to grow the international market for Hollywood product (mentioning China specifically).
The former Democratic senator from Connecticut also makes sure to suggest that his political experience will be of use to him in his new gig.
After three decades in Congress, I have some idea how to attract the attention of a Congressman or Senator. When you return to your states, invite your local governor, state legislator, congressman and senator to your theater and fill it with those who work with you along with video store employees and their families. Tell them about the importance of these issues to you and to your communities. If you become that educator, you will leave a lasting and indelible impression on those who will make decisions about your future.
CinemaCon continues through Thursday at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.