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MPAA's Valenti gloats over movie profits

So why does he whine about piracy doom?

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At this point I can only conclude there are two Jack Valentis. One of them is the president of the MPAA and rightly proud of the commercial accomplishments of the industry he represents, and the other is an evil doppelganger who lies to Congress on a monthly schedule, serving up great lashings of fear and seeking to enact laws that will make a criminal of anyone who threatens to impede the monopoly that his industry, unique among all, must be permitted to maintain.

Today we hear from Good Valenti, the guy who happily leads the cheers for his constituents, which is basically his job. According to a story by MSNBC, Good Valenti is delighted to report that Hollywood raked in record revenues on the domestic market in 2001.

Theater admissions were the highest since 1959, we're told; and revenues are higher than ever in human history. An incredible eighty-two per cent of moviegoers attended at least twelve films, one a month, last year. Production costs per flick have fallen from $54.8 million in 2000 to $47.7 in 2001. And there are fewer screens in operation, meaning better margins for theater operators.

2001's US box office receipts added up to a staggering $8.41 billion American. And there's more: licensing fees on cable and broadcast TV, video and DVD sales and rentals, and of course the foreign markets for all that as well, will have added a gargantuan pile of cash on top.

But all this is in direct contradiction to assertions Evil Valenti has made under oath before Congress on scores of occasions, most recently during a Congressional love-in last week.

"Only two in ten films ever retrieve their production and marketing investment from domestic theatrical exhibition," Evil Valenti whined in a recent op-ed piece for the Washington Post.

Surely this is inconsistent with the rosy financial picture Good Valenti has been disseminating. So clearly we must have two different people here, or a schizophrenic, or a case of demonic possession.

Or all three. ®

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