Movie biz lives! Glickman says

Upbeat MPAA chief asks exhibits to embrace future

LAS VEGAS -- "Reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated," Dan Glickman, chairman and CEO of the MPAA, told the conventioneers assembled at ShoWest on Tuesday.

Glickman used the occasion to highlight an upswing at the boxoffice, ask exhibitors to embrace new technologies, endorse the 30-year-old ratings system and take aim at smoking in the movies.

While discussing recent changes to the ratings system designed "to make the system more transparent to parents, filmmakers, exhibitors and distributors," Glickman said that the system still must change with the times. Currently, he continued, teen smoking is a growing subject of concern.

While he pointed out that none of the MPAA's member companies accepts money to promote tobacco use in films, he vowed to address the issue of smoking in movies while preserving filmmakers' creative freedom.

Recognizing organizations like the Directors Guild of America and the Entertainment Industry Foundation, which "are aggressively involved in campaigns to reduce the amount of gratuitous smoking in movies," Glickman said, "we're going to be working with both groups, as well as others, to accomplish this objective."

Glickman approached more controversial terrain when he acknowledged in front of the crowd of exhibitors that the MPAA member companies have interests not just in theatrical exhibition but also in DVD and Internet sales. Although some exhibitors feel embattled by the new technologies, Glickman pointed to a recent study that found entertainment consumers with the most technologies in their homes are the most frequent moviegoers.

"We should not be afraid to embrace the future," Glickman said. "I want folks to see more movies in a variety of venues, in theaters, on DVDs, on the Internet -- legally, of course -- and in other ways that I can't yet dream of." Declining to be drawn into a discussion of theatrical windows, he said, "That's for the marketplace to decide," although he quickly added, "The theatrical experience is the core of this business, period."

Appearing at the opening ceremonies at the Paris hotel's Le Theatre des Arts to deliver his annual state-of-the-industry address, Glickman remarked: "It's always a little more fun to show up for good events when you have good news to share."

Quickly reviewing the 2006 statistics that the MPAA released last week, Glickman reminded his audience that U.S. boxoffice was up 5.5% last year and worldwide grosses jumped 11% to an all-time high of nearly $26 billion.

He noted that frequent moviegoers went to more movies in 2006 than in 2005.

Referring to the $70 million weekend that Warner Bros. Pictures' "300" just enjoyed, Glickman added, "It turns out that 300 isn't just a perfect score in bowling anymore."

Proclaiming 2007 "the year of the sequel," Glickman added, "My prediction is that 2007 will be much bigger than 2006 for all of us."

The film industry, Glickman said, creates 1.3 million U.S. jobs and makes a $60 billion annual contribution to the nation's economy.

At the same time, he warned against complacency, noting that intellectual property theft costs the industry $18 billion a year.