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MPAA Chief Welcomes Netflix to the Family, Tells CinemaCon Exhibitors ‘Change Is Not Always Easy’

Motion Picture Association of America CEO Charles Rivkin helped wake the early-morning crowd at the start of CinemaCon 2019 on Tuesday — by simultaneously welcoming a digital disruptor into his Hollywood lobby and reassuring theater owners that moviegoing isn’t really going anywhere.

Addressing theater chain and indie cinema owners from around the world at the Colosseum Theater at Caesars Palace Las Vegas, Rivkin celebrated record-breaking 2018 box office milestones like Disney’s personal best in the U.S. and worldwide, thanks to Marvel hits like “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War.”

Rivkin cautioned that continued success in the legacy movie theater business hinges on the awareness 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.”

One of those dominant players, Netflix, now sits at the table with studios Universal, Paramount, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., and Disney in the MPAA.

“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,” Rivkin said, to applause from the room.

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The morning was not without other excitement. Rivkin also highlighted last year’s golden anniversary of the MPAA film ratings program, attributing much of its success to Joan Graves, MPAA senior vice president and chairman of the classification and ratings administration.

After a tribute reel and her own remarks, Graves took a considerable fall off of the Colosseum stage. The audience gasped audibly, and took a brief break from programming while medics attended to Graves. She insisted the program resume, with remarks from NATO president and CEO John Fithian.

Global-facing business was a major theme of the morning, as Rivkin praised the over 80 countries represented in the room.

“Change is not always easy, but it takes us forward,” Rivkin said.

The MPAA chief delivers an address on the state of the industry each year at the convention, and issues a comprehensive report titled THEME to that effect, in concert with National Association of Theatre Owners.

The 2018 global box office grew to $41.1 billion, while the U.S./Canada box office increased by 7% to $11.9 billion. An estimated 263 million people in the U.S. and Canada went to movies at least once last year, an audience that skewed 51% female and 49% male.

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