Mighty Times: The Children's March

by Melanie Gilarsky 05/02/2013 13:51 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Fifty years ago today was the first of the four days of what is now known as the “Children’s Crusade” when hundreds of students in Birmingham, Alabama took the streets to challenge the prevailing segregation laws. Last night the MPAA and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) co-hosted a panel discussion and screening of the Academy Award®-winning documentary short Mighty Times: The Children’s March about this pivotal event of the Civil Rights movement. The Children’s March is a joint production of the SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance program and HBO. Special guests included Julian Bond (Former Board Chair of the NAACP and SPLC’s first President), Richard Cohen (current SPLC President), Rev. Gwendolyn C. Webb (Founder, Foot Soldiers International), Ebony Howard (SPLC Attorney), and Lecia Brooks (SPLC Outreach Director).

MPAA Chairman and CEO Senator Chris Dodd shared with the audience that the MPAA theater exists “not only to screen movies; we use this room and this building to educate, and to motivate, and to stimulate.” Through this documentary and the panel discussion that followed, the MPAA and the SPLC transported the audience back to a time of extreme uncertainty, upheaval, and violence in America; a time when heroic school children braved fire hoses, police dogs, and repeated arrested for their equality.

The SPLC has sent this award-winning documentary and corresponding teaching materials to over 100,000 schools across the country through its Teaching Tolerance program – free of charge - showing once again the power of film to educate and to inspire. Richard Cohen, with his Oscar® in hand explained, “There is something else that we receive in connection with this film every day, and that is envelopes with letters and cards from teachers all over the country, talking about how the film is making a difference in their classrooms." A teacher is North Carolina wrote, “The film opened the eyes of their students to how much power they really had.”


From Left to Right: Lecia Brooks, Julian Bond, Rev. Gwendolyn C. Webb, and Ebony Howard


Photo Credit: Jon Black

On Eve of WHCD, Industry Leaders Celebrate Creativity

by TJ Ducklo 04/30/2013 07:47 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

“There is a desperate need for creativity here in Washington,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to open up Friday’s Creativity Conference, an event co-hosted by the MPAA, Microsoft, and TIME Magazine and intended to examine how technology and the creative arts are driving American innovation. “There is certainly a tradition of creativity in America. We are the creative capital of the world, and I believe it is the government’s role to provide a platform…for the growth of creativity.”

The four hour conference, held in the intimate Corcoran Art Gallery amphitheater, featured fascinating conversations on a range of issues from how technological innovation has shifted the consumer landscape, to the intricacies of the filmmaking process, to the role of creativity in the education system. 

Leader Cantor was joined by Harvey Weinstein, HBO CEO Richard Plepler, Beasts of the Southern Wild  Director Benh Zeitlin, PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger, New York Times Columnist Frank Bruni, Sony Chief Digital Strategy Officer Mitch Singer, TIME Managing Editor Rick Stengel, and other leaders from the political, entertainment, business, and media sectors.

Both Harvey Weinstein, as a filmmaker, and Richard Plepler, as a subscription-television executive discussed the creative process and how they make creative decisions. Weinstein noted his particular interest with the process itself: “The creative process is in a lot of my movies…I’m fascinated with the process,” he said. He pointed out past films Frida, the 2002 biopic on painter Frida Kahlo, and Shakespeare in Love (1998) as examples of celebrating the creative process through characters in his movies. Similarly, but from a different angle, Plepler described his experience in working with creators and how his platform is able to make creative decisions on particular shows: “The secret sauce to the HBO culture is creating an environment where people can tell their stories.”
Former President Bill Clinton closed the conference with characteristically insightful remarks on the wide purview creativity covers in our everyday lives, and stressed the important of cooperation through creativity moving forward: “The future will reward most richly those who are creative and cooperative,” said Clinton, adding “we’ve got a lot to learn, and the creators have to lead us there.”

For a weekend that so closely ties the creative industry with the political arena, Friday’s Creativity Conference provided a venue to explore some of the substantive issues at the crux of these two worlds. To watch a replay of the full conference, click here.


Majority Leader Eric Cantor

Harvey Weinstein

From Left to Right: Time Managing Editor Rick Stengel and HBO CEO Richard

President Bill Clinton

From Left to Right: TIME Managing Editor Rick Stengel, Microsoft VP U.S. Goverment Affairs Fred Humphries, and Senator Chris Dodd

Photo Credit: Laurence Genon

MPAA, Microsoft, and TIME Partner on Creativity Conference

by Kyle Scriven 04/25/2013 15:26 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Tomorrow, April 26th, on the eve of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Microsoft, and TIME will host ‘The Creativity Conference’, at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. The Conference will showcase the integration of technology and creative arts while underscoring their importance as drivers of American innovation. The Creativity Conference is a one-of-a-kind convocation of leaders from the worlds of politics, media, business, and the arts. The participants will be engaging in direct dialogue on the role creativity plays in our economy and in creating the workforce of the future. Earlier this week the Bureau of Economic Analysis announced it will be revising the way our GDP is calculated to better reflect how creativity and innovation impact our nation’s economy. Friday’s conversation will be between and among some of the most important creators and innovators of our time, from all sectors of society and the economy, and will explore new ways for creative arts to serve as a catalyst for growth and opportunity.

Headlining the conference will be keynote speaker President Bill Clinton. Other panelists and speakers will include Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman and CEO of the MPAA; Rick Stengel, TIME Managing Editor; Harvey Weinstein, Co-Chairman, The Weinstein Company; House Majority Leader Eric Cantor; Michael Duffy, TIME Executive Editor; Benh Zeitlin, Director of 'Beasts of the Southern Wild'; Frank Bruni, Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times; and Richard Plepler, CEO of HBO; Paula Kerger, President & CEO of PBS; Nancy Gibbs, Deputy Managing Editor for TIME Magazine; along with many more.
The conference will also be available via live-stream at Time.com/creativityconference and TheCredits.org.

MPAA Hosts "The Sundance Kid"

by TJ Ducklo 04/24/2013 15:05 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of the book All The President’s Men detailing the Watergate scandal, which inspired the Academy Award®-winning film starring Robert Redford. On Friday night at the MPAA, Redford spoke about the his role in that film while discussing his distinguished career as an actor, director, and producer and the roots of the prestigious Sundance Institute. Bob Woodward, former Washington Post reporter and co-author of All The President’s Men, was in attendance, as was current Post Film Critic Ann Hornaday who moderated a discussion with Redford and MPAA Chairman and CEO Senator Chris Dodd.
Redford recalled his interest in the Watergate scandal began even before President Nixon had left office, having read initial stories by Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Speaking about All the President’s Men, Hornaday remarked that she “could not think of a film that has fused so well with the actual event.” Redford, who was an Executive Producer in addition to starring in the film, said his initial goal before casting himself and Dustin Hoffman was to “film it with two unknowns” so the audience focus would be on the film's story and not the actors.
Senator Dodd later acknowledged that Redford’s greatest contribution to the film community is arguably not his on-screen accomplishments, but rather his off-screen achievement in establishing the Sundance Institute. Redford created Sundance, in 1981 to “foster independence, discovery, and new voices in American film.” Senator Dodd, who was a newly elected Senator from Connecticut in 1981, served on the first Board of Trustees for the Institute and has supported its growth ever since. 

In his own words, Redford commented Friday night on why he started the organization:

Success for me has a dark side. I wanted to appreciate it, it’s an honor. But I didn’t want to embrace it for too long. I’ve always wanted to be moving and trying new things. When I had success at the Oscars (in the early 1980s), rather than ride this horse, I'm going to do something else. That led to the idea of starting an independent film lab.

Redford added that once it appeared the venture would be successful, it became obvious they needed a way to disseminate their independent product out into the world. “We need a festival,” he said. “We need to create a community, to get everyone together and create opportunities.” In 1985, Redford’s group held the first annual Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, which is now one of the premier gatherings of filmmakers and emerging artists in the world. 

From Left to Right: Ann Hornaday, Senator Chris Dodd, and Robert Redford


Robert Redford


Photo Credit: Kris Connor

A Look at CinemaCon

by TJ Ducklo 04/19/2013 10:48 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Please silence your cell phones, the feature presentation will begin soon. Theater darkens, crowd quiets, and you leave reality behind for a few hours, allowing yourself to be transported by the stories on the screen. Here at CinemaCon, the annual convention hosted by the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO), we celebrate the moviegoing experience that only a movie theater can provide. The conference features an impressive trade show, seminars, previews of studios’ upcoming slates, and a wide-range of industry related panels and sponsored events that explore the important issues facing the film and television industry.

The atmosphere was certainly buzzing with excitement over the summer movie slate, and with good reason. Super heroes are back in full force as the weather turns warm with Warner Bros’ Man of Steel, Disney’s Iron Man 3, and 20th Century Fox’s The Wolverine. Sci-Fi thrillers like Paramount’s Star Trek Into Darkness and Sony’s After Earth are capturing movie fans’ imaginations and an all-star cast returns for Universal’s Despicable Me 2. Brad Pitt (World War Z), Adam Sandler, Kevin James, David Spade and Salma Hayek (Grown Ups 2), Johnny Depp (Lone Ranger), and a host of directors were on hand as well promoting their upcoming work.

On Tuesday, together with NATO President John Fithian, MPAA Chairman and CEO Senator Dodd announced the launch of the “Check the Box” campaign, a new effort aimed at emphasizing the importance of ratings descriptors and reminding parents about how the ratings system can be used to make smart viewing decisions for families. Senator Dodd penned a recent Huffington Post blog that goes into further detail, and you can watch the campaign’s newly unveiled PSA here.  

At the Filmmaker’s Forum on Wednesday, filmmakers Guillermo del Toro, Sam Raimi, and Oliver Stone spoke about their love of horror films, the magic of the theater experience, and the art of storytelling in a fascinating panel. Del Toro comments: “What you want as a storyteller is to evoke emotion. The horror is not people loving or hating your movie, it’s indifference”.

The forum also included the premier of a new meet-a-maker video by the MPAA sponsored content site TheCredits.Org. The Credits is dedicated to the world behind the camera, and often highlights the hard work of the various individuals it takes to create a film through the meet-a-maker video series. In honor of CinemaCon, the site focused the entire week on celebrating the American movie theater experience and capped it off with this fantastic profile of AMC Lincoln Square 13 General Manager Amy Hunter.

Below are a few images from the week. An enormous thanks to our hosts at NATO for coordinating yet another exceptional tribute to world of film and moviegoing. For more in-depth coverage from CinemaCon, go to www.TheCredits.org.

NATO President John Fithian (left) and Senator Dodd (right) announce the "Check the Box" campaign

from left to right: Salma Hayek, Adam Sandler, David Spade, and Kevin James promoting Sony's Grown Ups 2

from left to right: Sam Raimio, Oliver Stone, and Guillermo del Toro at the Filmmakers Forum

photo credit: Ryan Miller, Lead Photographer, Capture Imaging, Inc. at CinemaCon

MPAA and Fair Use: A Quick History

by Ben Sheffner 04/11/2013 15:43 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

The MPAA files lots of amicus briefs, most of which get read by no one except judges, law clerks, the attorneys in the case, and a few insomniac PACER addicts. But when we team up with our friends at the Stanford Fair Use Project, the International Documentary Association , and Film Independent to take a strong stand in favor of fair use, people take notice. Of course we have no problem with the attention to our brief, and we were pleased to be able to join forces with groups with whom we sometimes disagree, in support of a good cause: that copyright should not be used to block an accurate depiction of historical facts – in this case, Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens, the fact that the Ravens football team wore uniforms incorporating a certain logo for several years in the 1990s.

But we do want to push back a bit on the suggestion in some of the commentary about our brief that the MPAA and its members somehow “oppose” fair use, or that our embrace of it in the Baltimore Ravens brief represents a  shift in our position. That’s simply false, a notion that doesn’t survive even a casual encounter with the facts. Our members rely on the fair use doctrine every day when producing their movies and television shows – especially those that involve parody and news and documentary programs. And it’s routine for our members to raise fair use – successfully – in court. Here are a few examples:

Indeed, the MPAA filed another amicus brief in favor of fair use in the Baltimore Ravens dispute back in 2010.

Of course when the MPAA litigates antipiracy cases, we strongly reject the notion – as do the courts – that it’s fair use to download, stream, or “share” movies and TV shows over the Internet without permission from copyright owners. But that position is entirely consistent with that we took in our Baltimore Ravens brief. No thinking person is “for” or “against” fair use in all circumstances. As the Supreme Court and countless others have said, fair use is a flexible doctrine, one that requires a case-by-case examination of the facts, and a careful weighing of all of the statutory factors. Some uses are fair; some aren’t.  In this case, we were happy to unite with our amici at Stanford, IDA, and Film Independent in arguing that “It is antithetical to the purposes of copyright to use it to force an inaccurate depiction of actual events.” Let’s hope the Fourth Circuit sees things the same way.

How Just Saying “NO” Changed Chile

by Melanie Gilarsky 03/27/2013 14:04 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

The MPAA, together with the Inter-American Dialogue, National Democratic Institute, Participant Media and Sony Pictures Classics hosted a screening of “NO”, the 2013 Oscar® Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film on Tuesday evening. “NO” is a historical feature that tells the story of Rene Saavedra (Gael Garcia Bernal), a fictional young advertising executive, who was given the charge of creating the opposition campaign for the 1988 plebiscite.  As a result of the “NO” campaign, the Chilean people took back their nation by voting out military dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet. 

Leading strategists from the “NO” campaign took part in a panel discussion to provide viewers with an insider perspectives on the landmark Chilean referendum of 1988 and how the lessons of the “NO” campaign continue to remain valuable to others working for freedom and democracy around the world. The panelists were:  Genaro Arriagada (Former National Director of the “NO” campaign, Former Ambassador from Chile to the U.S., Former Minister of the Presidency of Chile), Ken Wollack (President, National Democratic Institute), Sergio Bitar (President of the Foundation for Democracy (Chile), Former Chilean Senator, Cabinet Member and President of the Party for Democracy (PPD)), and Frank Greer (Partner, GMMB).

Wollack, Bitar, Arriagada, and Greer took the audience back to Chile in the late 1980s and discussed the emotions, challenges, and decision process that culminated in the groundbreaking “NO” vote. Wollack said, “We look back at that democratic struggle 25 years ago as though its success was inevitable, although in fact at the time it was improbable.” Sergio Bitar added that “the main obstacle was fear and you cannot vanquish fear with fear or with despair, you have to be optimistic.” Arriagada discussed how he and the Chilean opposition came to creating the “No” campaign. “If we want [ed] to have a country for everyone it was necessary to have a program, a product of society that would be in place for everyone.”

Greer spoke from the American perspective, and how our “duty [was] to make up for the mistakes of foreign policy of the past. We were there because we believed.”


From Left to Right: Ken Wollack, Honorable Sergio Bitar, Honorable Genaro Arriagada, Frank Greer

Photo Credit: Joy Asico

A Snapshot of Some State Specific 2012 Box Office Data

by Julia Jenks 03/21/2013 14:31 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Earlier today the MPAA released its 2012 Theatrical Market Statistics Report, presenting a global snapshot of the box office, attendance, and film release trends for the film industry in 2012. As Senator Dodd pointed out in today’s release, both global and domestic box office are up compared to last year, driven by increased attendance. 2012 was a great year for moviegoing. For a deeper dive and access to the full report, click here.

This year, for the first time, we offer some additional analysis that sheds light on which states have the most eager moviegoing audiences. We analyzed the behavior of those who saw one or more movie(s) in 2012, referred to as “moviegoers”, in the 10 most populous states in the country.  We looked at the 10 most populous states in order to ensure that the sample is large enough to provide reliable data.

We found that among those 10 states, Illinois has the highest percentage of moviegoers, at 74% of their population, well above the national average of 68%. In second place is California, with 73% of their population earning moviegoer status and closely following, is Texas with 72% of the Lone Star state population going to the movies at least once last year.

Among the 10 most populous states, these particular three states have the highest percentage of frequent moviegoers, as well. Frequent moviegoers are defined as moviegoers who attend one or more movie(s) per month. The California population in this case ranks the highest, with 22% of Californians qualifying as frequent moviegoers, followed by Illinois at 21% and Texas at 18%. All three are well above the national average, which is 13% of the population.

Finally, we analyzed which states have the highest total number of moviegoers overall. California, by a significant margin, tops this category with 26.8 million moviegoers in 2012. Texas is second at 17.9 million and New York is third at 12.6 million. The graphs below detail all of the information we have just described and more, providing valuable context for these figures.

This year’s additional state information serves as an important reminder that the film and television industry has far reaching economic and cultural implications. Hundreds of thousands of people from across the globe contribute to creating the finished produced seen by billions, and as today’s report confirms, a wide variety of people in different places across the country love going to the movies.  

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