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MPAA's Dodd urges industry to reach out to 'connected consumers'

April 24, 2012 | 10:58 am


LAS VEGAS -- Motion Picture Assn. of America of Chief Executive Chris Dodd touted a strong rebound at the box office this year but said the industry needs to find new ways to stay relevant to younger, "connected consumers."

"We need to make the case -- both to the new, younger, 'connected consumers,' and to others who wonder if the moviegoing experience remains something special, something to be savored and enjoyed, something so innovative and creative that it cannot be duplicated at home no matter how many boxes they have,'' Dodd said in a speech at the CinemaCon trade show here.

Dodd, the former senator from Connecticut, noted that worldwide box office revenues reached a record $32.6 billion last year and that domestic box office revenues are up 17% this year compared with the same period last year.

Still, Dodd noted that the industry faced long-term challenges, including boosting theatrical attendance in the U.S. and Canada, which fell 4% last year.

"One third of the public in the U.S. and Canada no longer goes to the movies," Dodd said. "We need to bring them back. I firmly believe that with our artistic and commercial vision and your stewardship of the great moviegoing tradition, we can do it."

Dodd also renewed his call for finding common ground with the technology industry to curb the theft of intellectual property. The MPAA backed tough laws, nicknamed SOPA and PIPA, to crack down on online piracy, but the bills were defeated by opposition from Google and other tech giants along with a strong public backlash.

"I want to dispense with the conventional wisdom that in order to protect our content we must be at war with the technology industry,'' Dodd said. "In fact, our two industries, content and technology, have far more in common than some have argued."

He added, "If protecting intellectual property results in an uninformed brawl between Hollywood and Silicon Valley, both sides will suffer -- but more importantly, so will millions of Americans who rely on these intellectual property industries for their jobs, and on the consumers whose lives have been enriched by their efforts. 

-- Richard Verrier

Photo: MPAA Chief Executive Chris Dodd. Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images