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Dodd: Theater Still Best Place For Movies

New MPAA chief and
former senator Chris Dodd delivered his first speech atop the studio trade
group Tuesday, saying theaters were still the optimum venue for films. He was
definitely preaching to the choir.

According to a copy of
the speech to a National Association of Theater Owners convention in Las Vegas,
he called on those owners to give their lawmakers and governors an up close and
personal view of who film piracy impacts, but he steered clear of the issue of early
digital distribution windows for theatrical films.

That is one of the
distribution avenues MPAA is looking to grow and protect from pirates,
but that also has theater owners concerned that they are being cut out by other
distribution channels in the digital age.

The FCC last May
granted MPAA's request to be able to copy-protect VOD-delivered
theatricals closer to their release dates, saying it would benefit
shut-ins, parents who can't afford a babysitter, "and others who simply
want to stay in for the night," the chance to go to a movie theatervicariously through their set-tops.

That is what had theater
owners concerned. But without getting into specific issues, Dodd did speak
directly to the owners' worries about where they stood in the distribution
pecking order. He assured his audience, a National Association of Theater
Owners convention in Las Vegas, that "the production and exhibition
industries cannot succeed - cannot survive - without each other. If you fail,
we fail," he said, though he also added that it works both ways.
"it's just as true that if we fail, so will you."

But exhibition
industries can include TV and online, too.

"Our films are
still made to be shown on big screens in dark theaters filled with
people," he said. "And no matter how our industry continues to
evolve, I want all of you gathered here this morning to know that as the new
CEO and Chairman of the MPAA, I passionately believe there remains no better
way to see a movie than in a theater, and no more important relationship for
our studios to maintain than the one we have with you."

He advised his audience
to take a cue from a 30-year veteran in Washington to make a point about how
many people the theft of movies or TV shows affects. "When you return to
your states, invite your local governor, state legislator, congressman and
senator to your theater and fill it with those who work with you along with
video store employees and their families. Tell them about the importance of
these issues to you and to your communities," he said.