Charles Rivkin, the former assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs in the Obama administration, will take over as CEO on Sept. 5.
While Dodd’s farewell will be permanent after the transition period ends (he will remain as Chairman of the board until December), the building is merely getting renovated. Finished in 1969, the Brutalist-style structure at 1600 Eye St. NW is undergoing a two-year, full-scale renovation, allowing it to adapt to constantly evolving technology.
“When I started, we weren’t even close to being in the digital age. I didn’t even have a digital projector,” Dodd said.
Dodd has had a pivotal role in guiding the MPAA through technological advances since coming on as chief in 2011. As the fifth MPAA head in the organization’s history, Dodd helped the lobbying group, which represents Hollywood’s “big six” movie studios, tackle such issues of technological transformation as digital piracy.
The market for pirated content that started with bootleg DVDs and movies recorded in theaters quickly evolved to include the more pervasive problem of illegal streaming. Instead of trying to combat an issue as widespread as that in court, Dodd opted to try to eliminate the need for piracy itself, working to create hundreds of global distribution services to make content more readily available. “Even if you win these battles legislatively, what have you really won?” he said. “Technology is moving so quickly, before the ink is even dry. The argument, ‘I can’t find it anywhere, so that’s why I pirate’ — I almost eliminated that.”
Several notable D.C. figures crowded the theater to celebrate Dodd’s last hurrah in the old building, included Sens. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), and Mary Margaret Valenti, the wife of the late former MPAA chief Jack Valenti.
“There are some people here tonight who were at Dunkirk,” Dodd joked, poking fun at the age of certain audience members, some of whom have been coming to the MPAA for sit-down dinners and screenings for years. In a pre-movie toast, Dodd also thanked the crowd for its support, both of the organization and of him.
So what’s next for the 73-year-old, now that he’s leaving his MPAA career behind?
“I don’t know, but I got excited about this,” he said. “And I’d love to get excited about something again.”