But as all of you are aware, we have challenges as well.
One third of the public in the U.S. and in Canada no longer goes to the movies. We need to bring them back.
I firmly believe that with our artistic and commercial vision and your stewardship of the great movie-going tradition – we can do it.
I want to spend the remaining moments of my remarks on the issue of protecting the creative content of the film industry.
This issue is not only the lifeblood of our production industry – it is the lifeblood of yours as well, and as such, you are helping even more to redouble our efforts, joining many others beyond the audio/visual industries whose intellectual property is at risk.
At the outset, I want to dispense with the conventional wisdom that in order to protect our content we must be at war with the technology industry.
In fact, our two industries, content and technology, have far more in common than some have argued.
Some of the world’s most brilliant technologists work in the audio/visual industry, devising new ways to bring artists’ imaginations to life.
And, conversely, some of the world’s foremost creative geniuses work in the tech industry, designing and building products that are as beautiful as they are useful – remember Steve Jobs.
The truth is that neither the content nor the technology industries could survive without strong protections for intellectual property.
Many of you are familiar with how the name Hollywood became synonymous with the birth of the American film industry. It was in Jacob Stern’s horse barn, at the corner of Hollywood and Vine, the story goes, that Cecil B. DeMille screened the first full length feature film 100 years ago.
Well, when it comes to the tech sector, replace “Jacob Stern’s horse barn” with “Mark Zuckerberg’s dorm room” at Harvard, and you have almost the same story with the birth of Facebook.
The same type of story could also be told for the story of Steve Jobs’ creation of Apple, or Bill Gates’ creation of Microsoft.
In these and countless other examples throughout our history, the ability to give birth to an idea and convert it into economic success, whether it is the content of a film or the technology of the internet, depends on copyright and patent protection.
We are a nation of ideas with an economy of creators and producers. But this will not continue if creators and makers cannot protect the ownership of their creations and production – whether a movie or a smartphone app.
If protecting intellectual property results in an uninformed brawl between Hollywood and Silicon Valley, both sides will suffer – but more importantly, so will millions of Americans who rely on these intellectual property industries for their jobs, and on the consumers whose lives have been enriched by their efforts.
I am committed to doing all I can to achieve a satisfactory resolution to the protection of intellectual property.
But, more importantly, the leaders of the content industry are committed as well – and I am confident many in the tech community are similarly prepared to do their part as well.
At the TED conference in Long Beach, California I spoke with technologists who – while acknowledging concerns – agreed that content theft is a serious problem.
And at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, even on panels where voices from the tech sector dominated, there was a common understanding that intellectual property must be protected.
You, the members of NATO understand this.
You’ve been a strong ally in protecting our films. I am told that the number of illegal video camcords of movies in theaters is down 50 percent since 2007. Almost all of this is due to your vigilance.
I urge you to continue to be a part of a thoughtful and rational solution to protecting intellectual property. Your leader, John Fithian, has been a stalwart ally already, and I want to publicly thank him for all he has done.
We continue to promote technology and innovation, in movie-making and in the experience we provide for audiences on screens of all sizes, but most especially on the big ones at your theaters all across the country.
Together we can protect our product, the jobs our industry supports, and the consumers who never cease to delight in the experience we together provide them.
I thank you again for the honor of spending time with you, for the friendship you have shown me over the last year, and for the great work we will do together for years to come.
And now it is my pleasure to introduce your CEO and President, John Fithian, who will share his thoughts about the state of our industry...