Charles Rivkin Remarks at Cinemacon
Thank you, John. I’m thrilled to be back here on this stage, where we get a chance to see the very best to come from our industry… Where all of us – creators and exhibitors – can reaffirm our enduring partnership … And where all of us can revel in the magic that is the DNA of this great industry.
Today, I am here to tell you in 2018, we saw that magic perform. On the screen. In the stories we told. And most definitely, at the box office. As our THEME report showed, 2018 was one of our strongest years on record.
Domestic box office – in the U.S. and Canada was $11.9 billion. Admissions were 1.3 billion – a rise of five percent over last year. And 263 million people – 75 percent of the population – went to the movies at least once.
World totals were strong too: $41.1 billion globally, with seven markets outside the U.S. and Canada seeing more than $1 billion in domestic box office sales.
More young and diverse audiences came to the movies. According to our report, per capita attendance increased for both genders over last year. And the same was true in every ethnic category: Caucasian, Hispanics, African Americans and Asian communities.
What a great industry to be in. And what a great time to come together to assess our work, to look to the future, and chart our combined path forward.
Last year, I told you about the kid who loved watching movies at an outdoor theatre in Fish Creek, Wisconsin, and the optimist who had the privilege of working with creative visionaries like Jim Henson. I also promised you that we’d work together to promote and protect creators, to embrace innovative technology, and to reduce the threat of piracy.
Today, I have come back to report on the work we have done to fulfill those promises, so we can continue to deliver great stories to the Brenden, the Opalene, and the Century Orleans cinemas just around the corner, and to theaters all around the globe.
I have also come back to share three valuable lessons that I learned in my first full year at the MPAA.
First, audiences are hungry for content – and they especially appreciate seeing themselves on the screen in all their diversity.
Second, our industry knows how to put creativity to work – from our breathtaking screen stories to the investments you have made in your theaters to enhance the viewing experience.
And third, audiences showed the world that the unique power of cinema not only endures, it continues to blaze bright.
Ladies and gentlemen, our industry and our partnership are in this for the long game. Always have been. Always will.
Since that first Nickelodeon theater opened in Pittsburgh in 114 years ago, we’ve been hearing about our demise for more than a century. Through two world wars, the Depression, and calls for censorship. And through new technologies – each one of them guaranteeing the end.
Talking pictures, for example. In 1929, the Saturday Evening Post told us the American public “does not like talking pictures, and will not have them.”
Color pictures – they were definitely going to kill the movies.
Then it was TV. Then basic cable. Expanded cable. The internet. The smart phone. 24-hour programming. Videogames in every pocket. And yet – as Edna Mode, that wonderful animated character in “The Incredibles” put it so well: “Here we are.”
Talk to any theater owner, large, medium or small, from the Regal Cinemas of Knoxville, Tennessee to the Regencies of Agoura Hills, California to the Rogers of Marshfield, Wisconsin, and they’ll tell you the same thing: Here we are!
And here you are because you recognize that success depends on constant evolution and growth. That audiences are evolving. So you must adapt quickly to deliver what consumers want. That industries are evolving. New players enter the market nearly every day. That methods of production and distribution are evolving. That means extraordinary opportunities for creators.
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, adding to our roster of leading global content creators.
Here is what I know. We are all stronger advocates for creativity and the entertainment business when we are working together – all of us.
The E&Y study that NATO released last year showed that people who attend movies in theatres more frequently also tend to consume streaming content more frequently. That is encouraging – but not surprising. Audiences love great stories well told, period.
Our THEME report also showed both the theatrical and home entertainment sectors growing strongly in 2018. That’s great news. We are all part of that growth together. And I know John Fithian will be sharing some additional points on this in just a few moments.
Change is not always easy, but it takes us forward. And throughout those changes, and the ones to come, the partnership between NATO and MPAA continues to evolve and strengthen.
To that end, as I told you, I want to share just some of the important wins and developments that we have helped put into place, so theater owners can keep putting people in seats – not just nationally but around the world.
As you know, we all work and operate in a global market. Looking around this room, I see more than 80 countries represented here. That is why, the MPAA is first and foremost a global organization. Over the past year, as we continued to enact, expand, and preserve production incentives around the United States, we also worked to do the same around the world.
I was recently in India, for example, to support efforts to increase their screen density, and to remove barriers to production in their states.
On the trade front, we fought for creativity in the United States Mexico and Canada trade agreement, or USMCA. We supported its agenda to facilitate trade and grow the U.S. film and television industry.
As you know, piracy is a global phenomenon. And our ACE coalition, now with more than 30 global partners, is growing as we speak. In the past year, we have seen significant victories against piracy devices and services like Tickbox and Dragonbox.
The MPAA also works with theaters and law enforcement around the world, every day to reduce piracy. Last December in London, a camcorder thief was apprehended while recording a major holiday theatrical release during its opening weekend. Our collaboration with theaters in the UK, and the City of London police, uncovered the breadth of his piracy, which included films from more than half a dozen studios.
According to a Carnegie Mellon study, pre-release piracy can result in a 19% reduction in box office revenue for a film. That particular movie went on to make over $450 million at the worldwide box office. If that man had not been caught, that figure could have been significantly lower. And you know what that means for your bottom line.
Miguel Rivera, Vice President of Global Programming at Cinépolis, will tell you, our studios’ engagement with theater owners worldwide has never been stronger. From adding more diversity to casts to selecting optimal opening dates in national markets, studios are committed to your success.
The MPAA’s anti-piracy efforts are central to the success of those relationships and engagements. In Mexico, for example, thanks to the cooperation between local exhibitors and distributors, video camcording incidents have decreased.
We’re not stopping there, of course. Our work continues across Latin America, so that we can increase opportunities. For you. For our members. For audiences.
Brock Bagby of B&B Theatres in Liberty, MO, comes from three generations that have co-owned the company. And at B&B, they love to share a quote that came originally from Brock’s grandfather, Sterling Bagby. When anyone expressed doubts about the industry, he’d always say: ‘Everyone has a kitchen but everyone still goes out to eat.’
That has been your guiding light for generations. And now more than ever, theater owners are finding new ways to keep those audiences coming: Enhanced screen formats and presentation… Immersive sound. Now even the silences in “A Quiet Place” have a snap and crackle that put audiences on the edge of their seats. And more recliner chairs that are better than some beds!
Ryan Noonan of AMC theatres calls it the “recliner revolution.” He says more people are coming to his theaters on Tuesday afternoons than at any other time. And, theater owners haven’t stopped there. Theaters have become virtual neighborhoods: play areas for the kids; bars; restaurants; even bowling alleys! And you get better, local information to inform your future strategy every day, with direct feedback from social media, reviews, and surveys.
We at the MPAA are proud to be your partners. Because like us, you work every day to make sure this industry stays vibrant and relevant. Because you recognize that shared work, and commitment to innovation and constant improvement make all of us stronger. Because you believe in our business. Because you know that people love the movies. And last but not least, because you take magic seriously. Because you know that it works!
Before I go, there is one other vital element of our long partnership that must be mentioned here.
The MPAA ratings have been one of our great successes, uniting the MPAA and exhibitors together for the last 50 years. Last year we celebrated our golden anniversary – of the trust that we built with the parents and moviegoers of America: that we would always provide accurate and reliable information to help inform their viewing choices.
Today, we have another celebration, and a surprise, for someone special who had a profound impact on those ratings, the movie-going experience, and all of us.
Thanks to her, parents always knew, coming into the theater, what to expect. They knew they could trust us, through major changes in our history, our culture, even changes of attitude and values among parents themselves.
That trust remains. An overwhelming majority of parents tell us that the ratings are helpful tools.
You know who built that trust? Joan Graves.
That’s why we consider her an institution. An icon who served the production and the exhibition community, but especially dedicated every day to parents and moviegoers. Ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy this presentation.
[After presentation] Ladies and gentlemen, I’m pleased to welcome your friend and mine, John Fithian, who will introduce Joan.