Exiting MPAA chief reflects on the film industry

Dan Glickman gave final ShoWest address on Tuesday

LAS VEGAS -- It might have been a swan song, but the tune was familiar.

In his final state of the industry address at ShoWest, outgoing MPAA chief Dan Glickman on Tuesday lauded entertainment-industry accomplishments and railed against movie piracy.

"Add this powerful new 3D era, and I predict the best is yet to come for the boxoffice," he said.

Glickman didn't mention the recent debate over the tightening theatrical windows, but he hinted at a changing distribution landscape, saying, "Technology is making it easier for people to enjoy movies in new ways."

Ever the diplomat, the one-time congressman knew to play to the exhibitor-filled audience and added, "The communal, theatrical experience will always be the heart of this business."

National Association of Theatre Owners chief John Fithian took on the controversy more directly in his podium remarks.

"While remaining the least expensive form of out-of-home entertainment, the movie theater industry is insulated from the constant downward price pressure that has damaged the home-entertainment market," he said.

The sympathetic tone toward studios' moves to tighten theatrical windows on select films stood in stark contrast to the NATO chief's remarks about past efforts by distributors to hasten titles' home video release. But Fithian stressed that the exhibition biz will show "limited flexibility."

"We are confident both that the current theatrical release model will continue into the foreseeable future and that intelligent decisions will be made on individual pictures," he said.

Fithian placed Disney's move to shorten the theatrical run for "Alice in Wonderland" in the latter category. By going along with the studio, exhibs ensured the release of a tentpole pic in March, advancing NATO's long-sought goal of a "52-week release calendar," Fithian said.

In remarks to reporters before his address, Glickman said anti-piracy efforts by the MPAA and NATO have helped to reduce illegal camcording and Internet distribution of movies in the U.S. and Canada but added that international movie piracy continues to spread.

After stepping down April 1 to assume a post with Refugees International, Glickman will be succeeded as MPAA chief on an interim basis by association president Bob Pisano.

"If I could leave this community with one piece of advice, it is that we cannot forget our power to change people's lives and, in doing so, the world," Glickman told exhibs. "It's been an honor to work with you and to represent this extraordinary American filmmaking community. I won't say goodbye, just 'see you at the movies.' "

Universal Pictures chairman Adam Fogelson preceded the keynote speakers with a studio slate presentation including well-received clips from summer tentpole "Robin Hood" and 3D animated feature "Despicable Me." He also showed a planned red-band trailer for summer comedy "Get Him to the Greek."

Fogelson joked about being asked to join the morning session as a studio presenter despite Universal's lackluster past summer.

"Many of you asked, 'Why him?' " he deadpanned.

But Fogelson added the forgettable span represented Uni's "first really bad year in a long, long time," and he underscored the studio's commitment to year-round releasing by touting the $110 million domestic success of October opener "Couples Retreat."

Also at the morning session, Disney distribution president Chuck Viane presented Georgia Theatres chairman Bill Stembler with the 2010 ShoWester of the Year award, and clips from 31 films -- including seven 3D releases -- were presented in a show reel tribute to 2009's $100 million domestic grossers.
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