years of creativity
The Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America was founded.
The Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America was founded and led by William H. Hays. A regulatory system, known as the Hays Code, was soon developed to ensure the absence of “offensive material” and prevent government interference in filmmaking.
In March 1922, U.S. film studios formed the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America — now known as the Motion Picture Association (MPA) — to protect and support the nascent film industry. Former Postmaster General William H. Hays became the association’s first president. The association also instituted a regulatory system, informally known as the Hays Code, to ensure the absence of “offensive material” and prevent government interference in filmmaking.
Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, and Fox Film (which exists today as 20th Century Studios, a subsidiary of Walt Disney Studios) were among the inaugural members and remain MPA members today. Warner Bros. and Columbia Pictures (which today is now a part of the Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group) during the association’s first two years.
The association rebranded as the MPAA and a global headquarters in Washington, D.C. was established.
The association rebranded as the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). During the same year, the association purchased the Tuckerman House from the Library of Congress and Smithsonian at 1600 Eye Street NW in Washington, D.C. – just steps from the White House.
The year 1945 marked two major moments for the association. First, the name – the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America – was updated for the first time to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Second, the MPAA opened its global headquarters after the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian sold the Tuckerman House to the association.
The Tuckerman House was situated at an iconic intersection just steps from the White House in Washington, D.C.. Shortly after moving into the house, the association unveiled its first theater. President Truman attended its grand opening, and Cecil B. De Mille controlled the sound dial himself for his screening of “Samson & Delilah.” In 1969, the association built a larger office building at the iconic location, and, in 2019, the MPA’s global headquarters was renovated to better reflect the creativity and innovation of the film, television, and streaming industry.
The modern film ratings system was created.
MPAA Chairman Jack Valenti replaced the Hays Code and the earlier moral censorship guidelines with a voluntary film rating system focused on informing parents about the level of content in films.
In 1968, MPAA Chairman Jack Valenti replaced the outdated Hays Code – which restricted the movies audiences could see based on a list of moral guidelines – with a voluntary film ratings system that would act as a guide for moviegoers rather than rules and regulations for filmmakers.
This system, known as the Classification and Ratings Administration (CARA), provides parents with advance information about the level of content within a movie so they can make appropriate viewing choices for their families, while also protecting the First Amendment rights of creators. This system has evolved over time and is still in place today.
The Copyright Act of 1976 was passed.
Congress passed and President Ford signed into law the Copyright Act of 1976, which forms the basis of modern U.S. copyright law.
In the fall of 1976, Congress passed and President Ford signed into law the Copyright Act of 1976. This law was the most significant update to U.S. copyright law since 1909, which was prior to the advent of the modern motion picture industry and the MPA itself.
The association actively supported the law as it updated copyright laws to work in a more technologically advanced age, introducing elements such as the major exclusive rights of copyright holders and fair use.
The PG-13 film rating was introduced.
The Classification and Rating Administration (CARA) added a PG-13 film rating that recognized the middle ground between the PG and R ratings resulting from innovative special effects and other aspects of blockbuster movies with broad audience appeal.
In the 1980s, special effects in movies like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom started angering parents who had not expected graphic content in a PG film. Director Steven Spielberg actually raised the issue with Jack Valenti, who considered a middle ground between PG and R. In 1984, this resulted in the creation of the PG-13 rating – the first significant change to the rating system since its inception.
Not long after, the ratings board made two other significant changes to the ratings. In 1990, the X rating was changed to NC-17 after X was co-opted by the adult film industry. More importantly that same year, the rating board began adding descriptors, or short explanations such as “Pervasive Language” and “Smoking Throughout,” to give parents even more advance information about the content of a film.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act was passed.
In 1998, Congress passed and President Clinton signed into law the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
In the early fall of 1998, the United States Congress passed and President Clinton signed into law the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The Act extended the reach of copyright protections during the earliest days of the internet and other new innovations and technologies.
The association advocated for the passage of the DMCA as it provided protections for creators.
The movie-musical Chicago attracts attention… for its filming location.
The movie-musical Chicago was released in 2002 and would later go on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture — but Mayor Richard M. Daley took issue with the filming location, which was not in Chicago, but in Canada. This set the stage for production incentive programs to be created in states throughout America.
In 2002, the movie-musical Chicago gave audiences the razzle-dazzle leading to an Academy Award for Best Picture. However, Chicago’s then-Mayor Richard M. Daley took issue with the filming location which was not in Chicago, but in Canada. This was a major moment for a number of lawmakers in states across America to begin providing production incentives for movies and TV shows that film in their states.
Today, states from California, New York, and Georgia to Hawaii, Illinois, and Louisiana have created strong production incentive programs attracting movies and television series to film on location. In turn, the industry has pumped money into the local economies and supported millions of jobs.
The association’s diversity, equity, and inclusion program was founded.
The Motion Picture Association founded its diversity, equity, and inclusion program in 2012, which works to establish programs and new partnerships that promote a diverse talent pipeline, both in front of and behind the camera.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the Motion Picture Association’s diversity, equity, and inclusion program establishes programs and new partnerships that promote a diverse talent pipeline in front of and behind the camera. Founded and led by MPA Vice President for External and Multicultural Affairs John Gibson, the program has grown to include more than 50 partners, underscoring the association and its member studios’ commitment to promoting great storytelling that reflects the viewpoints and experiences of all creators and audiences. Collectively, we aim to address diversity, gender parity, authentic cultural representation, and pipeline recruitment opportunities for underrepresented communities in our industry.
The U.S.-China film agreement was reached.
In 2012, then-Vice President Joe Biden announced an agreement between the United States and China that resulted in a larger number of American films being allowed into China.
In February 2012, then-Vice President Joe Biden announced the United States had struck an agreement with China that resulted in more American films being allowed into China. This trade agreement allowed for more job creation in the U.S. and ensured that creators were compensated for their creative works that were being viewed in China.
It was a major achievement that came on the heels of a complaint from the U.S. to the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the Motion Picture Association played a role in the build-up to the deal by encouraging a freer and more anti-piracy Chinese film market.
The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) was formed.
In 2017, the MPA formed the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), which has since grown into the leading, global coalition dedicated to reducing digital piracy and protecting the legal ecosystem for creative content.
To address the global threat of digital piracy to creative works, creators, and consumers, the world’s leading content creators came together in 2017 to form the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE).
Drawing upon the collective expertise and resources of more than 30 members and reinforced by the content protection operations of the Motion Picture Association, ACE protects the creativity and innovation that drive the global growth of core copyright and entertainment industries.
The association unified global operations under one brand: the Motion Picture Association.
Since 1922, the association has worked around the world to advocate on behalf of the motion picture industry. However, each global region used different logos, names, and branding. In 2019, under the leadership of Chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin, the association unified its global brand as the Motion Picture Association.
Since its earliest days, the association has worked around the world to advocate on behalf of the motion picture industry with team members in Washington, DC, Los Angeles, Florida, Texas, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Belgium, China, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, and Australia. For decades, the global offices operated under different names and logos.
In 2019, under the leadership of the association’s Chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin, all global operations were unified under one brand – the Motion Picture Association. This unification underscores the global nature of the association’s work to advance policies that support creators, protect content, and foster a thriving creative economy.
The association celebrates its 100th anniversary.
One hundred years after its founding, the Motion Picture Association remains the global voice of and advocate for the motion picture industry, including film, television, and streaming content. The last century can be marked by creativity driving us into the next 100 years of innovation.
As a fledgling industry in Southern California rose to become one of the world’s most valuable cultural resources, the Motion Picture Association has been the voice and advocate for the film, television, and streaming industry. The association will mark its centennial with its member studios – Disney, Netflix, Paramount, Sony Pictures, Universal, and Warner Bros. – with a series of commemorations to highlight a century of creativity as it looks forward to the next 100 years of innovation and content creation.
As Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association, I’m delighted to welcome you to our website commemorating 100 years as the global voice and advocate for one of the most technologically innovative, culturally influential, and economically impactful industries in the world. As befits a retrospective of this scale, we also direct our focus to the next century – and the challenges and opportunities ahead.
It has been a truly remarkable century, both for the MPA and the industry we represent. As this website shares below in words, numbers, illustrations, and interactive features, we have …
- Remained a robust economic driver of jobs around the world, directly and indirectly, and a powerful contributor to our nation’s GDP.
- Achieved numerous policy and legal victories in every corner of the world in support of creators, creative rights, and freedom of expression.
- Expanded and accelerated our efforts to address diversity, gender parity, authentic cultural representation, and pipeline recruitment opportunities in our industry.
- Provided consumers with impartial assessments of the content of our movies and television through our Ratings System, and in doing so, also protected films from government censorship.
- Convened the largest global coalition of entertainment companies in partnership with law enforcement authorities, and other partners to create the world’s leading organization dedicated to reducing digital piracy and protecting the legal ecosystem for creative content.
- Last but certainly not least, continued to enlighten, entertain, and inspire audiences here and around the world.
When we launched in 1922 as the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, it was the heyday of plush movie palaces with names like the Roxy and the Rialto. In 1945, when we rebranded as the Motion Picture Association of America, the world was recovering from the devastation of war, and America was embarking on a remarkable period of economic growth. By 2019, as we drew close to our own century mark, we recognized the global reach and impact of our industry and our mission, and we updated our name to the Motion Picture Association.
I am always struck with wonder at how resilient and innovative our industry has been throughout some of the most tumultuous political, economic, and cultural upheavals our country and the world have ever
seen. We hope you will explore and enjoy this celebratory look back and gaze forward, and join us in celebrating the many milestones of this incredible journey that, in our estimation, has really only just begun.
Charles H. Rivkin
from Charlie Rivkin, Chairman & CEO of the Motion Picture Association
I’m delighted to welcome you to our website commemorating 100 years as the global voice and advocate for one of the most technologically innovative, culturally influential, and economically impactful industries in the world.
As befits a retrospective of this scale, we also direct our focus to the next century – and the challenges and opportunities ahead.
In Their Own Words
Leaders who have worked closely with the Motion Picture Association over the years share personal tributes and thoughts about the value of the industry as a driver of economic growth and cultural change.
By the numbers
The impact of the motion picture industry has evolved considerably over the past century.
See some of the ways the industry has grown in size and in its contributions to economic growth.
(figures in this section reflect U.S. data unless specified otherwise)
COMING TO A THEATER NEAR YOU
In 1971, there were 14,055 theater screens in the United States.
As of 2020, there are 40,998 screens in the U.S.
The motion picture industry has supported millions of jobs over the last century, including jobs created as a result of indirect support from the industry.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!
In 1946, 400 films were released domestically in the United States. That grew to 987 films in 2019.
The motion picture industry has contributed to U.S. GDP since its inception. In 1963, the industry added $3 billion to the country’s GDP. That grew to a peak of $94.3 billion in 2017 and was $70.1 billion in 2020 during the pandemic.
The year-end box office for all films released in the United States and Canada was $1.69 billion in 1946. Prior to the pandemic, it reached a peak of $11.89 billion in 2018, not adjusted for inflation.
In the News
MPA CEO on Dealing with China, Pandemic Headaches, and State Incentives and Boycotts
Charles Rivkin has been at the forefront of the film business’s legislative battles over everything from tax incentives to pandemic insurance.
MPA Content-Protection Wing’s War Against Piracy: ‘We Will Find You and Shut Down Your Servers’
At any moment, upward of 100 MPA investigators are on the hunt for pirates, working to ensure artists’ rights are protected globally.
How ‘Chicago’ and the MPA Brought Productions Back to the U.S.
The 2002 film ‘Chicago’ helped shine a light on reasons why major motion pictures choose where to film.
MPA Senior Leaders on Evolving With the Industry and Audiences: ‘We Can Never Get Stuck in the Past’
MPA Chairman & CEO Charles Rivkin says a vital aspect of building senior leadership is finding people who have diverse perspectives and approaches to problem-solving.
MPA Executive on His Journey to Diversify Hollywood: ‘You Have to Do the Transformative Work’
Since the MPA created its DE&I program, John Gibson has worked to enhance diversity behind and in front of the camera.
MPA’s Data-Research Team Has Collected Stats for Nearly a Century
The MPA offers crucial data on industry topics such as marketplace conditions, industry trends, and anti-piracy issues.