CineAsia: Charles Rivkin Looks to Asia as Locomotive for Theatrical Cinema

Charles Rivkin
Ian Langsdon/EPA/REX/Shutterstoc

Hollywood’s lobbyist in chief, Charles Rivkin Tuesday delivered a message of hope for the theatrical cinema industry, in Asia and the rest of the world.

The chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association, Rivkin suggested that film has enduring cultural power, as well as the power to make cross cultural connections.

“Audiences across Asia are devouring American content.. it is our responsibility to continue creating compelling content, and nurturing talent,” he said. Rivkin was speaking in Hong Kong at the CineAsia, the largest annual convention of cinema exhibitors and distributors in Asia.

Rivkin’s upbeat message comes at a time when theatrical cinema is challenged by online platforms, shrinking release windows, and changing retail patterns.

Asia, however, represents a different outlook. It is already the largest segment of the world’s theatrical market, representing 39% of global box office, and offers the strongest growth prospects.

“Asia is setting the pace of cinema building,” said Rivkin, citing China’s 20 screens per day building pace. “These new theaters are being built to meet modern-day demands.” He cited the addition of bars and laser projection as adding to consumer comfort and attraction.

Inevitably, Rivkin included a warning on movie piracy. “We need to do more to compete with the increasingly prevalent issue of global piracy. That requires a global response. He cited survey figures that show 24% of adults in Australia admitting to using piracy to access content. That figure rises to 39% in supposedly law-abiding Singapore. He encouraged Asian companies to join the six MPA studios and 22 other member companies in Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE).

According to the MPA’s data box office in the Asia-Pacific region was worth $14.6 billion in 2016, ahead of the $11.4  billion of North America. The Asian figures are expected to have grown again, with China growing a predicted 15% in 2017 and adding more than $1 billion to the total.