CinemaCon: Chris Dodd Denies Major Changes Afoot at MPAA

Chris Dodd - P 2014
AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Chris Dodd - P 2014

Hollywood's top lobbyist held a press briefing on Tuesday following his speech at CinemaCon.

Motion Picture Association of America chairman/CEO Chris Dodd on Tuesday refuted reports that there are major changes afoot at the trade organization, which represents the six major Hollywood studios.

During a press briefing, Hollywood's top lobbyist was peppered with questions about the recent Sony hack and its impact on the future of the MPAA.

Sony Pictures chairman Michael Lynton was so unhappy about the MPAA's lack of a response to the hacking and controversy surrounding the movie The Interview late last year that he had seriously considered pulling Sony out of the organization completely.

"Whatever the rumors were, Sony has stated categorically that they aren't leaving the MPAA. I talk to Sony almost daily," said Dodd during the press briefing at CinemaCon, the annual gathering of theater owners in Las Vegas. "But we don't need to replow old ground. We've moved on."

National Association of Theatre Owners president/CEO John Fithian added that relations have returned to normal between Sony and exhibitors, some of whom were unhappy over the handling of The Interview. "I don't sense any lingering problems," said Fithian.

Dodd has said previously that he should have spoken up more about the hack. "The hacking was outrageous," he said Tuesday. "They [Sony] were subjected to a violent criminal act. I would quickly add that the decision by WikiLeaks to make all of this stuff available is terribly wrong and, in my opinion, inexcusable," said Dodd.

Dodd also has been criticized for his handling of net neutrality. Between that and the Sony hack, some insiders in Hollywood have suggested it is time for the MPAA to scale back its operations or expand its membership beyond the six studios, each of which pays annual dues of up to $20 million.

Dodd insisted there is no major budget overhaul in the works or any reduction in fees. "Obviously, with any institution, we are constantly examining how we can be more efficient and effective in our job. I don't have anything to report on that front."