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Motion Picture Association CEO Charles Rivkin on Hollywood’s Increasingly Strong Ties With Europe

Motion Picture Association CEO Charles Rivkin is at the Venice Film Festival with Stan McCoy, the org’s chief for Europe, to attend a panel on the economic impact of film and TV production in the U.S. and Italy, organized by the film unit of the Italian culture ministry.

They spoke to Variety about the increasingly close ties being forged between Hollywood and Europe.

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In the past couple of years due to the pandemic we’ve seen a lot more U.S. productions coming to Europe. Is the MPA good with that?

Rivkin: There’s no question that there’s more production in Europe and it’s because Europe is a fantastic place to make movies, and because we partner – and have historically partnered – with European creators since the beginning of our association.

But I wanted to add a point. Because we are film, TV and streaming at the Motion Picture Association, the pandemic in some ways has accelerated the globality of the industry. Meaning that when I was growing up, even though I speak French – and I’ve been the U.S. Ambassador of France – I could rarely see French television in the United States., but now you have series like “Lupin” on Netflix and “Call My Agent,” Israeli shows like “Fauda” playing in the United States, and a series from Spain like “Money Heist” playing seamlessly in the United States. Americans have been historically averse to subtitles; not anymore.

So I think that we’ve always been an international industry, but the pandemic has really illuminated that fact in some ways, both in physical production, as well as in content distribution. And that’s a good thing.

Europe’s AVMS directive, which is meant to prompt new rules of engagement between producers and streaming giants, is in various stages of implementation across Europe. What’s the MPA’s take?

McCoy: I think that broadly speaking, it’s important to bear in mind that the AVMS directive is not rigid on these issues. It leaves a lot of flexibility for individual EU member states, to pursue balanced policy choices. And for us, the important thing, broadly speaking, is to encourage member states to put in place rules that are flexible, proportionate and predictable because we’re talking big picture. If you want to drive investment, then you need predictable rules and those rules need to be reasonable and flexible. And a very important principle in European regulation is that the regulation needs to be proportionate to the objective. So broadly speaking, this is what we look for in member states across the board. And it applies to investment requirements, but I think also applies to questions like IP ownership.

How is the MPA’s ongoing anti-piracy effort going in Europe?
Rivkin: I’m really proud of the fact that several years ago, the MPA created ACE, which is short for the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment. And ACE now has more than 40 companies from across the planet. The anchor companies in the United States are the six MPA members plus Amazon Prime, as well as Apple TV Plus. But added to that, you now have Canal Plus in France. You have Germany’s Constantin Film. You have the BBC. You have players in Latin America and in Asia.

It’s the most powerful global force against piracy that’s ever been assembled. And what we do that’s different than what we’ve done in the past is we have very close relationships with law enforcement around the world. In America, we have what I would even call an embed with the Department of Homeland Security. But outside the U.S. I just received, on behalf of the Motion Picture Association, the highest civilian honor from the Spanish National Police because of our work fighting piracy in Spain.

Similarly, we’ve partnered with the authorities, legal and police in Italy, in Germany, in the U.K. and all of our key markets.

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