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Charles Rivkin

Streaming and film-going “are not in competition,” Motion Picture Association (MPA) chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin has insisted in an address to attendees at this week’s CinemaCon exhibition conference in Las Vegas. 

According to an advance transcript of the address, Rivkin used his State of the Industry speech, delivered alongside National Association of Theatre Owners head John Fithian on Tuesday (August 24), to predict an industry comeback after the pandemic and to play down tension between exhibitors and distributors over theatrical windows. 

Rivkin, whose trade body represents the major studios, said “streaming and moviegoing are not zero sum. They are not in competition. Rather, as studies show, consumers consider them to be part of a shared spectrum of entertainment.” 

Consumers, the MPA head said, “consider a theatrical opening to be the stamp of quality. If a film has been released in the theaters, they know it has ‘pedigree’.” 

Rivkin acknowledged that the past year has been “one of the worst that the global economy – and our industry in particular – has had in a generation. More than 96% of independently owned and mid-sized theatres lost 70% of their income. And just when things seemed to be coming back, and talk of recovery was everywhere, the Delta variant came in, making everyone fear once again for their health and their economic security.” 

But like the on-screen comebacks of Rocky Balboa and Marvel superheroes, Rivkin predicted, the industry will recover: “We have built one of the most successful and iconic industries in human history,” he said. “And together, we will build an even greater one in the century to come.” 

Perhaps partly in reference to the windows debate, Rivkin suggested that the recovery will see new business models come into play. “I believe we are at a key moment in time,” the MPA head said, “with an opportunity for new thinking and reinvention, just like the creative resurgence that followed the influenza pandemic of 1918. Longstanding norms and business models (once considered sacrosanct) are being disrupted.”