Studios Fed Up With Funding The MPAA: Changes May Be Coming
from the about-time dept
A few years ago, the major record labels finally started to realize that, perhaps, shoveling many millions of dollars to the RIAA was a waste of good money, and they severely cut back funds. You may have noticed that, while the RIAA had taken the lead on the copyright front in the first decade of the new century, over the past few years, it’s been a lot quieter than the MPAA. It appears that the MPAA may be about to go through a similar transition. Just a few weeks ago, we pointed out that the MPAA seemed to be desperately trying to justify its existence by doubling down on ridiculous and misleading claims about “piracy” and “content theft” rather than actually helping studios adapt to the modern era. We also noted that MPAA boss Chris Dodd was on something of an apology tour after the MPAA was caught completely off guard by the Sony Hack and did basically nothing about it, seriously pissing off execs at Sony.
There’s a reason Dodd was groveling. It appears that the studios are finally realizing that maybe the MPAA isn’t working in their best interests after all, but is just focused on justifying its own existence:
In a behind-the-scenes drama, the Sony Pictures chairman Michael Lynton last month told industry colleagues of a plan to withdraw from the movie trade organization, according to people who have been briefed on the discussions. He cited the organization’s slow response and lack of public support in the aftermath of the attack on Sony and its film ?The Interview,? as well as longstanding concerns about the cost and efficacy of the group.
While the MPAA convinced Sony to stay in, it appears that the major studios are thinking it’s about time the MPAA shift its focus — and tighten its belt a bit:
If adopted, their still emerging propositions might jolt the group into line with the new realities of a changing entertainment business. They might, for instance, open the association to new members and expand its interests to include television programs or digital content. They might also reduce the heavy annual contribution of more than $20 million that is required of each of the six member companies: Walt Disney, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Universal and Sony.
The report notes that they might even give up their super fancy DC headquarters (the “Jack Valenti Building”) which is just blocks from the White House.
Of course, it’s not entirely clear how the MPAA’s focus will actually change. It wouldn’t be surprising to find some studio execs still want to double down on backwards-thinking, anti-internet campaigns. But, at least some seem to recognize that Hollywood hasn’t kept up with the times, and that’s partly because the MPAA kept focusing them on the last war, rather than on updating for the internet era.
Kevin Tsujihara, the chief executive of Warner Bros., said he, like Mr. Dodd, welcomed an examination of the organization that would mirror a similar review of cost and mission at his company. ?Now is as good a time as any? to look at fundamental questions, Mr. Tsujihara said in an interview. He added: ?We haven?t, as an industry, evolved fast enough.?
And, as we’ve pointed out, it really seems bizarre that the MPAA spends so much on an entire “content protection” division. At least some of the studios appear to be questioning the value of that approach:
But those briefed on the position of several companies said virtually all the studios have chafed lately at the high cost of maintaining the M.P.A.A., along with its worldwide antipiracy and market access operations, particularly as Sony, Warner and others are cutting staff and costs.
Frankly, as we’ve argued for years, it would be great if the MPAA actually became a forward-looking organization that looked to help the industry adapt to the modern era. It appears the organization is going through an inevitable crisis after years of making bad bets. Hopefully, it recognizes that embracing the future, rather than fighting it, is the way forward.