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MPAA Chairman Unveils ‘Where to Watch’ Initiative to Battle Piracy

Speaking before CinemaCon on Tuesday, MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd told the crowd of theater owners that the industry’s future will depend on striking a balance between moviegoing and watching online via a plethora of devices.

Dodd promoted the MPAA’s recently launched WhereToWatch.com, where viewers can quickly find information on where movies are playing in local theaters or online.

The intent of the site is to drive audiences to sources of legal content, rather than pirated material. But there has long been tension between studios and theater owners on the windows between a film’s theatrical run and its digital debut.

According to his prepared remarks, Dodd said the effort “is also a crucial recognition of the changing technological landscape, and the need to continue evolving to meet the demands of our consumers. That will mean finding new ways to enable audiences to see movies where and how they want, while maintaining the magic and unrivaled appeal of the theater-going experience that has been this industry’s driving force for well over a century.”

The push-pull between movie theaters and emerging technologies is a central theme at this year’s exhibitor confab in Las Vegas.

On Monday, Disney distribution chief said that movie attendance has steadily declined over the last five years among those ages 18 through 39.

“It doesn’t take much of a leap to think that the technology advances we’re seeing outside of the theatrical space are some how connected to these trends,” he said.

Dodd also presented clips of an auto mechanic and costume illustrator, part of the latest MPAA effort to show that the industry is made up largely of rank-and-file workers rather than rich stars and executives. The effort was dubbed “where you watch film matters,” with the message that “livelihoods are threatened by film piracy.”

He said that “as an industry, we must do even more if we are to continue making these films telling these stories that people the world over have come to enjoy so much. We, all of us who make our home in this industry, must stand up and speak out to protect their jobs, and our industry, by spreading this message, whether in movie theaters, the best place to enjoy their presentation, or
on television, or streaming legally online.”

His complete remarks are here.

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