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DISTRIBUTION Europe

We risk weakening the unique character of European cinema

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- The European exhibitors organizations UNIC, CICAE and Europa Cinemas criticize the European day-and-date experiments

We risk weakening the unique character of European cinema

With regard to the launch of Creative Europe, the European cinema organizations UNIC, CICAE and Europa Cinemas harshly criticize the attempt of the European Commission, to support day-and-date releases with the recently launched Preparatory Action “Circulation of films in the digital era.” The organizations criticize that this programme has been designed without any significant prior consultation with cinema exhibitors and threatens to disproportionally weaken cinemas.

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“By choosing to make a film available only in their theatres for a certain period of time after its release – and by paying significant fees for the privilege – cinemas are able to create an unparalleled and shared film-viewing experience,” emphasize the exhibitor groups. The uniqueness of seeing a film together on the big screen in return creates high levels of publicity andcontributes to its success on other platforms. By actively fostering a trade-off between cinema-going and home-consumption, we risk weakening the unique character of European cinema. We should seek to grow overall success together and not foster cannibalisation.“

“It is not surprising that the overwhelming majority of film industry stakeholders have chosen not to participate in any of the projects financed under the first wave of the Preparatory Action,” state Phil Clap, President of UNIC, Detlef Roßmann, President of CICAE and Nico Simon, President of Europa Cinemas in their common statement. “Only three films have so far been released simultaneously or with significantly altered releases schedules.” The Commission initially hoped to release 80 – 100 films within this experiment. “While box-office results for the released niche titles are so far weak, the general lack of transparency in the VOD business means that there are so far few if any revenues reported for this emerging market,” add the exhibitors. “It remains unclear how each of the supported projects will be evaluated and if this will be done by an independent body.”

Since the Commission plans a “Council Recommendation on Film in the Digital Era” which will advise European Member States on how to better support European cinema, the exhibitor organizations point out that the limited success of day-and-date experiments as well as the high value of an exclusive theatrical window should be adequately reflected in this proposal. Cinemas today would be the best solution to create awareness of and cross-border interest in European film. Many theatres use social-networking solutions and mobile marketing strategies to attract film-lovers and position themselves as trusted cultural and creative meeting places in their local communities.

“These efforts should be acknowledged and supported by all European institutions,” sum up the cinema representatives. “The launch of Creative Europe provides a great opportunity to stabilise and strengthen the social, cultural and economic contributions of cinema exhibition in Europe – especially in relation to cinemas in smaller towns and rural communities where it is increasingly important to fight social isolation.”

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