Charles Rivkin has an enviable view.

From his desk in the Motion Picture Assn. offices, Rivkin can look out at the White House, a reminder of the proximity to power that comes with being Hollywood’s main lobbyist. Rivkin, who took over as chief executive officer of the MPA in 2017, has been at the forefront of the film business’ legislative battles over everything from tax incentives to pandemic insurance.

He’s also worked to broaden the coalition of content creators, welcoming Netflix to the fold in 2019 as the first streaming service to join the association — joining Disney, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros. All six MPA members, as well as Apple TV+ and Amazon form the governing board of the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), a global coalition of 35 members dedicated to fighting piracy.

In 2019 Rivkin also rebranded the MPA, which had previously been known as the Motion Picture Assn. of America, to reflect the global nature of the entertainment business. About the centennial celebration, he tells Variety “I really believe that this hundred years is just the first episode of a long-running series. There’s so much more to come.”

The MPA has historically been extremely focused on piracy. With COVID and more streaming, was there a surge in pirated movies?
Our research shows there was an initial spike in piracy during the pandemic and then it stabilized. There’s a lot of great content out there and people are going to try to steal great content if they can.

How can you combat the desire of people to watch movies for free even if it means downloading pirated copies?
We formed the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, which is the world’s premier force in fighting piracy. It has the six Motion Picture Assn. studio members, and I was thrilled to bring on Apple TV Plus as a member. It’s an unending fight because piracy morphs with technology. MPA helped pass a law called the Protecting Lawful Streaming Act. It had been a felony for piracy services to offer downloads, but a misdemeanor to offer streams. It’s difficult to pursue cases that are just misdemeanors; they don’t get the attention of law enforcement as much as a felony does. So we’ve changed that.

It’s been 10 years since the U.S. and China struck an agreement allowing 34 foreign films annually to be released in the country. Has there been any progress on raising that limit or have any hopes of a new deal collapsed?
It is really, really hard for our members to get their films into China. The current quota allows for at least 34 revenue-sharing films a year and, by the way, last year we only got 21. This year could be more promising; as of March 1, China has allowed eight American movies in 2022. There’s no question that China is one of the largest, fastest-growing markets on the planet. It has more than 80,000 screens versus 40,000 or so in the U.S. At the same time, the protectionism that limits our access to their industry stops us from realizing the full potential of that market, and the trade barriers that China has put up on our business serve as a massive subsidy to China’s domestic film companies, which puts American jobs and American exports at risk. China’s consumption of their own films has increased dramatically.

There’s a lot of unpredictability and uncertainty in the market that comes with a cost to the U.S. economy. Given the ongoing tensions between the U.S. and China, every single industry is trying to figure out how to best mitigate the impact on their own business.
This is the 10th anniversary of the [agreement] so much more needs to get worked out. We only get a 25% revenue share, which is less than the 40% [that] is the standard in the rest of the world. Our films are often pitted against each other so they cannibalize each other. China has made little effort to increase shares in movie ticket sales since 2012.

The MPA has also been lobbying for more state tax incentives for film and TV production. What is your pitch to states, particularly those facing budget shortfalls?
The pitch is economic growth. The pitch is exponential return on your investment. Beyond that, there’s soft benefits for these states, which are an increase in tourism and job training. I’ve been on the phone with 31 governors during the pandemic, and I’m talking to them about how our industry is shovel-ready to grow local economies. When a major motion picture goes to a town or city in America, on average it pumps about $250,000 a day into the local economy. We’re talking about jobs for caterers and local workmen. They are jobs that in many cases don’t require college degrees and yet pay significantly more than the average minimum wage.

Some countries have national film incentive programs. Will the U.S. ever have a federal film credit?
We’re working with several friends in Congress to try to push the idea of a federal incentive or labor tax credit, which would incentivize our industry to make movies in parts of the country that don’t have these state programs now. That’s something other countries like Canada, Australia and the U.K. already do.

Many states with generous incentives such as Louisiana or Georgia are more conservative. There have been threats to ban production when some of these states passed restrictive laws on abortion. Will there always be tension between a left-leaning industry like Hollywood and the states where it does business?
Hollywood has the reputation of being a left-leaning industry, I can’t debate that. But these decisions are left up to the member studios. There is no way I can say Hollywood feels this way or that about boycotting Georgia. What does Stacey Abrams feel about boycotting Georgia? She doesn’t like it. She believes a boycott of Georgia would result in a lot of jobs being lost.