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EXHIBITORS France

UGC-MK2 alliance continues to make waves

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While the groups UGC and MK2 will this morning make official their union on unlimited film passes, the subject continues to ruffle the feathers of French film professionals (see article).

After years of silence, the issue of ticket prices has come to the fore again with force. The Bureau de Liaison des Organisations du Cinéma (Bloc), co-presided over by producer Jean-François Lepetit and director Pierre Salvadori, yesterday asked the Centre National de la Cinématographie (CNC) for real transparency on the issue after having expressed its concern at the end of July on the new UGC-MK2 alliance", which authorises the two exhibition groups to build a shared commercial offer regrouping more than two thirds of Paris cinemas, thereby marginalising independent cinemas, who are already in a weak position."

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According to the Bloc, which regroups among others the Association des Producteurs de Cinéma, Association of European Independent Distributors, Syndicat des Producteurs Indépendants, Union des Producteurs de Film and Société des Réalisateurs de Films, the average ticket price increased by 10% between 2000 and 2006 (from €5.39 to €5.94) and that for unlimited passes (UGC and Le Pass) rose by 32% to €19.80, while payments to rights holders for admissions from unlimited passes (which are also used to finance the support fund run by the CNC) remained unchanged at €5.03 and as a consequence has to revalued.

Recognising the interest of these unlimited formulas granted by the CNC, the Bloc emphasises that "nothing justifies that they should be the only ones to escape the transparency that characterises the French system." It is thus asking that all information related to passes (in particular their number and the places accorded via these formulas –currently unknown figures) be made public in order to measure their impact on releases.

Moreover, producers and distributors have once again stated that their pay comes in part from ticket receipts, while the growth in exhibition comes from the increase in additional takings that escapes all redistribution (especially to the CNC support fund). As a result, €54m is now being spent by distributors to promote films in theatres, a twenty-fold increase since 1998, while revenue from confectionary is still being kept top secret.

While the CNC announced the launch of a study this summer on the reality of how the unlimited passes work, the Bloc has asked to be involved in the development of its specifications and is insisting that governments have to "prevent the exhibitor from using its economic power in the future to unilaterally fix payments for the rest of the industry."

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(Translated from French)

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