AFM: New MPAA Chief Takes Cooperative Tone Toward China in Keynote

Charles Rivkin - Alaia Exhibition September 2013 - Getty - H 2017
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"We must continue to open the Chinese market and expand trade between our two industries,” said Charles Rivkin.

Charles Rivkin, the new CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, addressed Hollywood’s most valuable overseas business relationship — China — in a tactful, peacekeeping keynote Wednesday during the U.S-China Film Summit in Los Angeles, across town from AFM.

After emphasizing the U.S. and China’s “shared history and passion for creative storytelling," Rivkin turned to the perennial topic of Hollywood market access in the enormous Middle Kingdom film sector.

"We must continue to open the Chinese market and expand trade between our two industries,” Rivkin said, noting that “seizing potential growth — and overcoming the challenges ahead — will require cooperation.”

“The 2012 MOU has been instrumental in doing this,” Rivkin added, referencing the landmark market-access deal signed nearly six years ago that increased the number of Hollywood titles allowed into the China market and the revenue share allowed out.

"It has taken the U.S.-Chinese relationship to new places, and we hope the renegotiations currently underway will build on this foundation,” he added.

The U.S. Trade Representative Office, with input from the MPAA, is now engaged in negotiations with Beijing officials over every aspect of Hollywood’s official terms of doing business in China.

The U.S. side is pushing for greater access, a larger cut of ticket sales and more control over when and how its films are released, marketed and distributed.

Rivkin didn’t offer any update on the status of those talks, but the stakes could scarcely be higher.

"Last year, [China’s] box office hit $6.6 billion, making it the largest market outside of the United States — and one that continues to grow,” Rivkin said. “In cities large and small, the country is adding 20 more cinema screens every day, and box-office revenue there is on pace to surpass $8 billion by the end of the year.”