MPAA chief says Netflix addition makes organization stronger

Motion Picture Association of America Chairman Charles Rivkin says Netflix's addition to the group makes the entertainment industry stronger.

Rivkin's remarks are a stark contrast to how the streaming giant is usually referenced at CinemaCon, the annual gathering of movie theater owners and distributors, who generally see the streaming service as a threat to their business model.

The MPAA chairman and CEO kicked off CinemaCon Tuesday morning in Las Vegas with his annual state of the industry speech.

"Success depends on constant evolution and growth," Rivkin said. "At the MPAA, each of our member companies is evolving too. And thus, how we pursue our mission of promoting and protecting creativity is evolving. Recently, that evolution featured Netflix joining the MPAA.

"Here is what I know: We are all stronger advocates for creativity and the entertainment business when we are working together," he added. "Change is not always easy, but it takes us forward."

He referenced an E&Y study that the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) released last year that said that people who attend movies more frequently also consume more streaming content.

And indeed, the record 2018 box office year, despite ramped up competition from streamers like Netflix, helps to back up that theory.

The North American box office reached a record $11.9 billion and the global box office hit $41 billion last year. 263 million people went to the movies at least once last year.

That growth was helped by an increase in younger and more diverse audiences.

But the stakes remain high, and now four months into the year, the box office overall is still down around 16 percent from last year. It'd be an even bleaker picture without big hits like "Captain Marvel" and "Us" propping up the industry totals.

Still, Rivkin says he remains optimistic.

"Since that first Nickelodeon theater opened in Pittsburgh in 114 years ago, we've been hearing about our demise for more than a century," Rivkin said, going through a laundry list of all the threats, from cable to videogames, that movie theaters have survived. "And yet as Edna Mode, that wonderful animated character in 'The Incredibles' put it so well: 'Here we are.'"


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