Arts & Entertainment

Streaming wars: Chairman & CEO of the Motion Picture Association, Charles Rivkin, on big tech and the film industry

August 17, 2022

Streaming wars: Chairman & CEO of the Motion Picture Association, Charles Rivkin, on big tech and the film industry

Charles Rivkin

Chairman & CEO, Motion Picture Association

Get Charles Rivkin's take on what the rise of streaming platforms mean for the future of the film industry.

On this episode of the Walker Webcast, Willy is joined by Motion Picture Association (MPA) Chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin. During their chat, Charles and Willy talk about the evolving landscape of the entertainment industry, his time as a U.S. ambassador, the importance of diplomacy, and much more. If you’ve wondered what the rise of streaming platforms means for the future of the film industry, and how to be a successful leader while transcending industries, read on and see what Charles has to say.

The conversation starts off with Charles’ father, “a wonderful role model in leadership,” in Charles’ words. William R. Rivkin was the U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg for John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson’s ambassador to Senegal. Charles followed in his father’s footsteps as ambassador to Monaco and France, where he held film screening nights as a way of bringing people together. According to Charles, American movies are a reflection of American society.

Charles talks to Willy about how he’s always enjoyed surrounding himself with creative people. At Yale, he was a member of the Whiffenpoofs, the oldest acapella group in the nation. Then, after earning his MBA at Harvard, he worked in the media and entertainment sector for over 20 years.

Drawing on 30 years of experience as a media executive and a leading U.S. diplomat, Charles advocates for policies that drive investments in film and television production. He champions work to protect creative content and open markets. He is also responsible for the MPA’s iconic rating system.

Prior to joining the MPA, Ambassador Rivkin was the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for economic business affairs. In his extensive professional history, Charles has served as the U.S. ambassador to France and Monaco, and he worked in the media and entertainment sector for over 20 years. He received his bachelor’s degree from Yale and an MBA from Harvard.

Today he heads the Motion Pictures Association (MPA). In addition to bringing the world the “G, PG, R” movie rating system, the MPA advocates for investment in film and television production and the protection of creative content and open markets.

MPA members include Disney, Paramount, Sony, Universal, Warner Bros., and—under Charles’ leadership—Netflix. In another move to cover film, TV and streaming services alike, MPA has partnered with Apple+ and Prime in a coalition against piracy.

“The key to managing so many diverse interests within the industry is finding commonalities we can all agree on,” Charles says. “One thing we can all agree on is we don’t want pirates stealing our content”. Intellectual property is one of the most important exports of the U.S. today, he says.

After Willy and Charles talk about the fight against piracy and new policies for market access, copyright protection, and IP protection, the conversation moves to film production and movie theaters, which have had a challenging time during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Charles notes that all of the past year’s Best Picture-nominated films were made in the United States and describes the U.S. film industry’s safety protocols as “second to none.” While in-person attendance still lags 2018-2019 levels, movie theater sales this past summer were twice what they were the summer before, he says. Even with the rise of platform films and other genres, “the theatrical industry vibrant and promising,” he says, citing research that the more devices a person owns, the more likely they are to go to a movie theater.

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