MPAA's Glickman on the recession, the drop in dvd sales and the G20

At the SHOWEST Cinema Expo in Las Vegas today, CNBC‘s Julia Boorstin spoke with MPAA CEO Dan Glickman about the effects of the recession, and the G20, on the film industry at large.

CNBC: If the recession is long and deep, do you think people will still pay to go to the theater?

GLICKMAN: Generally speaking, when times are tough people do go to the movies. It’s an inexpensive way to get entertainment, and it’s a way to get away from all of the negative hubbub of a recession. So right now, theatrical movie business is pretty good.

CNBC: The DVD business has really fallen off a cliff… what do you think the movie industry should be doing to revamp their revenue model?

GLICKMAN: One way is to get more online stuff out to people, get first run movies into people’s homes faster, to use new technologies to get people where they work, how they live, how they travel. New technologies give the industry a lot of ways to reach people. But ultimately the heart of this business is still the theatrical movie house.

CNBC: Obama’s on his way to the G20 meeting right now.. and I know that the movie industry is a huge export business. How can these meetings affect the performance of the movie industry wordwide?

GLICKMAN: The movie industry is the only industry in America which has a positive balance to payment surplus with every single country we do business with. It’s phenomenal. And if overseas business is restricted to us, if we don’t have access to foreign markets, it’s really a dagger in the heart of this business. Because we sell about as much overseas of our product as we sell domestically. So I’m hopeful the President will be successfull in keeping the world from protectionist barriers which can’t do anything but hurt us.

They’re confused, and the industry doesn’t really know where its best future path lies… in theatrical distribution (which seems to require difficult economic times to grow), in alternate distribution (through new technologies [read VOD and other online services]) which are presently difficult to monetize and protect, or in an ever-growing overseas marketplace (likewise difficult to manage and protect) which has a limited set of genres that truly perform well internationally.

Should be interesting to see how this shakes down over the next five years.